INDIANAPOLIS – The Butler volleyball team made quick work of Kent State Saturday night at Hinkle Fieldhouse, beating the Golden Flashes 3-0. With the victory, Butler finished its week 3-1, including a 2-1 mark at the Butler Invitational.
Overall, the Bulldogs finish the non-conference portion of its schedule with a 10-4 mark. Next weekend, Butler will play at Dayton and Xavier for its first Atlantic 10 matches.
Junior Maggie Harbison had 14 kills on .500 hitting and added eight digs and two blocks. She was named MVP of the four-team event. Sophomore Belle Obert led all players with 17 kills. Sophomores Jadyn Yarling (13 digs) and Erica Stahl (6 blocks) were the team's defensive leaders.
BU enjoyed a sizable 46-26 advantage in kills and Kent State hit just .038 for the night. Blocking, Butler's strength so far this season, was essentially even (9.5-9.0).
"It was a good match. Both teams blocked very well," head coach Sharon Clark said. "That's what kept them in the match, was their ability to get their hand on some balls by blocking."
Butler started slow in the first set, trailing 10-6 before the Bulldogs turned it on. What ensued was a 19-6 run keyed by five Obert kills. With Butler trailing 13-12, Randich served during 6-0 run that put BU ahead 18-13. After an Obert kill made it 21-16, BU got a kill from three different players to clinch the set 25-16. KSU hit -.030 with only six kills in the first set.
The second set was tied 11-11 and 14-14 before Butler took advantage of Kent State's sloppy play to win the set 25-19. The Bulldogs led 16-15 when they got a kill and two KSU mistakes to go ahead 19-15. The rest of the set was a mix of Butler kills and attack errors on Kent State. A strong block by Stahl and Obert clinched the set and a 2-0 match lead for the Dawgs. Kent State was even worse offensively in the second set, hitting -.033.
The third set was tight throughout, and ended up being the longest set of Butler's season. With Kent State's back against the wall, the two teams played an exciting 34-32 set. It featured 21 ties and 10 lead changes. Butler had match point four times before clinching the set on the fifth try. The service game was the finisher, as a service error by Kent State made it 33-32 before sophomore Stephanie Kranda scored an ace to finish the evening. Kent State had set point four times but each time Butler found a way to answer.
"In the third, they got us a little bit out of rhythm," Clark said. "It was a little difficult. But we stayed with it and were patient. And, for our team, that's good for us. We need to stay patient and keep battling."
There was a three-way tie for first in the weekend's event at Hinkle. Butler, UC-Davis and SEMO all went 2-1. Kent State went 0-3 and did not win a set.
Clark said she is ultimately pleased with how the Bulldogs are progressing heading into conference play.
"We would've liked to get one or two more wins, but we're happy," Clark said. "We're playing well right now and we've got good chemisty. We'll take the momentum from this weekend into Dayton next weekend."
2012 Butler Invitational All-Tournament
Maggie Harbison, Butler
Belle Obert, Butler
Allison Whitson, UC-Davis
Devon Damelio, UC-Davis
Julie Yarber, SE Missouri St. (MVP)
Taylor Masterson, SE Missouri St.
Emily Coon, SE Missouri St.