PITTSBURGH, Pa. - VCU, which owns the most wins in the Atlantic 10, needed every point it earned to get past a hot Butler volleyball team on Friday. The Rams outlasted the Bulldogs 3-2 to advance to the league semifinal.
Butler saw its season end with a 17-12 record. BU won its last five regular season matches to earn the tournament's No. 6 seed.
"We played well in this match and left it all out there," head coach Sharon Clark said. "They came up big in the end to get two more points than we did.
"I'm proud of this team and we will do the work in the offseason and come back better next season."
The Bulldogs won the first set easily 25-20 and had set point in the second set before the Rams squeaked by 27-25. The Rams won the third set to take a 2-1 lead, but Butler rallied. The Bulldogs jumped out to a 14-9 lead and extended it to 20-11. Butler won the set 25-17 to send the match into a fifth set.
The Dawgs led 7-3 in the fifth set and Butler appeared to be in control. VCU answered with an ace and a block to pull within 9-8. Still, after an Obert kill the Bulldogs led 11-9. VCU would tie the score at 12-12 and soon VCU had match point at 14-13. Sophomore Stephanie Kranda smacked a kill to tie the set but a pair of kills from Kristin Boyd gave VCU the set 16-14 and the match.
Senior Rachel Barber led the Bulldogs with a career-high 17 kills. Junior Maggie Harbison added 14 kills and sophomore Brooke Ruffolo made 25 digs. Four different Rams players had 11 kills or more. Amanda Love made 26 digs for VCU.
In a battle of the A-10's top blocking teams, VCU made 14.0 team stops compared to nine for the Bulldogs. Samadan had eight blocks and junior Claire Randich had six.
The Rams advanced to play No. 2 seed Xavier in the tourney semifinal.
Butler will return all of its players except for Barber, the squad's lone senior.