2012 Butler Volleyball
The First Serve
The Butler volleyball team will make its first appearance in the Atlantic 10 Volleyball Championship this weekend when it takes on No. 3 seed VCU Friday, Nov. 16. The tournament is hosted by Duquesne.
The Bulldogs won their last five matches to claim the last spot of the six-team tournament. BU had a 7-7 mark in conference play, tied with George Washington, but the Bulldogs had the tie-breaker after sweeping GW back in September.
Friday's match pits two of the nation's top blocking teams against one another. VCU is the A-10 leader and ranks fourth in the nation with 3.08 blocks per set. BU is just behind the Rams at fifth in the country (3.06). Individually, VCU's Martina Samadan and Butler's Erica Stahl are among the national leaders in blocks. Samadan is fifth in the nation and Stahl is 10th. Whichever team controls the net is likely to have the upper hand in the match-up of the A-10 newest members.
Offensively, VCU is very balanced with four players averaging between 2.38 and 2.80 kills per set. The Rams are second in the conference in hitting percentage (.260). Belle Obert and Maggie Harbison are Butler's leading hitters. BU was fifth in the A-10 in hitting (.205) and sixth in kills.
BU-VCU opens the tournament, followed by No. 4 seed Duquesne hosting No. 5 Temple. Dayton, which went undefeated in conference play, is the top seed and has a bye. Xavier, the No. 2 seed, has the other bye.
The winner of the 2012 Atlantic 10 Volleyball Championship earns the league's automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament.
TOURNEY TIME: Less than a month ago, Butler was 2-7 in A-10 play and a tournament berth seemed like a slim chance. BU responded with five straight wins to finish sixth in the standings and extend its season. Butler's record against the other five teams in the tournament is 1-6, however four of those losses came to top seeds Dayton and Xavier.
BU ALL-TIME IN TOURNEY PLAY: Butler played in the MCC/Horizon volleyball tourney 26 times (1986-2011) and posted an all-time record of 29-22. The Bulldogs won conference tournaments in 1986, 1987, 1997 and 2010.
SOMETHING ABOUT VCU: VCU, at 24-5, claimed the most regular season victories in the A-10. The Rams are led in Martina Samadan (2.40 kills, 1.64 blocks) and Kristin Boyd (2.80 kills). VCU posted a 3-3 record against the rest of the tourney field.
PREVIOUS MEETING: VCU hit. 280 and had edges in blocks, aces and digs to defeat Butler 3-0 in Richmond back on Oct. 21. The Rams were led by Anett Farkas (13 kills) and Cecilia Aragao (33 assists, 9 digs). Brooke Ruffolo had 18 digs for Butler.
BU-VCU CONNECTION: Butler and VCU are located 628 miles apart, but are forever connected. The two schools entered the A-10 just weeks apart. And in 2011, the two schools met in the NCAA Men's Basketball Final Four.
IN THE NATIONAL RANKINGS: Butler appears on the NCAA national leaderboard in blocks and aces. The Bulldogs are fifth in the nation with 3.06 blocks per set and 32nd in the country in aces at 1.48. Individually, Erica Stahl stands 10th in the nation in blocks at 1.53 per set. Claire Randich is also in the top 80 in blocks (74th, 1.19).
YOU'VE BEEN SERVED: Butler leads the Atlantic 10 in service aces with 1.48 per set. In their last three regular season victories, the Bulldogs tallied 19 aces over 10 sets. Butler has 30 aces in its last four matches. Morgan Peterson leads the team and ranks seventh in the A-10 at 0.30 aces pet set.
BUTLER ON THE BLOCK: The Bulldogs have four players (Erica Stahl, Claire Randich, Morgan Peterson, Maggie Harbison) who average 0.75 blocks per set or more. Butler owns a 17-5 record when winning the blocks battle.
LEADING HITTERS: Belle Obert and Maggie Harbison are BU's leading offensive players. Harbison owns 282 kills, good for 2.82 per set. Obert, who missed time due to injury in early September, averages a team-best 2.83 kills per set. Harbison owns five double-doubles and Obert has four.
TIME TO KILL: Butler is a perfect 15-0 when having more kills than its opponent. The Dawgs are 2-11 when having fewer kills in a match.
DEFENDERS OF THE WEEK: Claire Randich and Erica Stahl have each been named Atlantic 10 Defensive Player of the Week. Randich was honored on Sept. 10 after she led BU with 1.82 blocks per set at the Butler Classic. Stahl was recognized for her play at the Butler Invitational the next week, when she posted 1.79 blocks per set.
5-SET THRILLERS: Butler is 4-0 in matches that last five sets, claiming wins over DePaul, Coastal Carolina, IUPUI and SEMO. Three of the four 3-2 victories saw Butler down 2-1 in the match only to come back to win. Butler led Coastal 2-1 before hanging on to win in five sets.
SET AT SETTER: Morgan Peterson does a little of everything as BU's starting setter. Peterson is averaging 9.55 assists and 2.55 digs while being among the league leaders in aces. On the attack, she has 120 kills on a .316 hitting percentage. She even led BU in kills once, smacking nine in a win over LaSalle. In her Butler debut, the 6-0 junior was named MVP at DePaul and was also tabbed all-tourney at Pitt.