September 11, 2013

Volleyball to Host Butler Invitational

Twitter - @ButlerVB - @ButlerSID

Weekend Schedule (First Team Listed is Home Team)
Friday, Sept. 13
Butler vs. Illinois State - 11 a.m. (Audio)
IPFW vs. Michigan State - 3 p.m.
Butler vs. IPFW - 7 p.m.

Saturday, Sept. 14
Michigan State vs. Illinois State - 11 a.m.
Illinois State vs. IPFW - 3 p.m.
Butler vs. Michigan State - 7 p.m. (Live Video)

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Four high-profile teams will compete in the Butler Invitational this weekend as the Bulldogs play host to Illinois State, IPFW and No. 15 Michigan State. Three games will be played on both Friday, Sept. 13 and Saturday, Sept. 14. The format for the tournament will have games being played at 11 a.m., 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. each day.

About Butler (7-1)
The Bulldogs are on a three-match winning streak after beating Wright State at the Hinkle Fieldhouse on Tuesday, Sept. 10. The win moves Butler to 2-0 at home as they held off IUPUI 3-2 in the home opener back on Sept. 3.

Butler will look to ride this momentum into the tournament this weekend as they host a group of opponents who are a combined 17-4 overall. The Bulldogs are also off to a good start with a 7-1 overall record. The team hasn't started a season this strong since 2008 when the squad got off to a 10-1 start.

Junior Belle Obert has been the focal point of the Butler offensive attack this season. The outside hitter leads the team with 95 kills (3.52 per set) and is also involved defensively with 65 digs and 33 blocks.

The blocks category is another factor leading Butler to success as the have posted 85 total blocks compared to just 36.5 from their opponents. Erica Stahl leads the team with 41 blocks, but the Bulldogs work as a unit as seven different players have at least 14 blocks or more.

Adding to the defensive effort is junior Brooke Ruffolo who has been in great position to record a dig if the Bulldog blockers don't make the play. Ruffolo leads the team with 127 digs giving her an average of 4.70 per set. She has successfully bumped the ball to setter Morgan Peterson on multiple occasions allowing Peterson to record a team-high 260 assists on the year. Peterson has evenly distributed the ball as seven different players have over 20 kills on the year.

The Bulldogs have played well in tournament formats so far in 2013 as they posted a perfect 3-0 record in the Cincinnati Invitational by beating the host Bearcats, Morehead State and Tennessee. Their lone loss of the season came at Arizona at the Desert Classic, but the team bounced back to take 3-0 wins over both Utah Valley and Eastern Kentucky.

Scouting Illinois State (6-1)
The Redbirds have played in two tournaments early in the season to earn their 6-1 overall record. The team visited Indianapolis opening weekend to participate in the IUPUI Tournament along with Florida Gulf Coast and VCU. After recording wins over both IUPUI and Florida Gulf Coast, the Redbirds took their first loss of the season 3-1 vs. VCU.

The loss didn't seem to bother Illinois State as the team went on to win four-straight matches at the Nevada-Reno Tournament the following weekend. The team recorded a close 3-2 win over Grand Canyon to start the tournament and ended the opening day with a 3-0 sweep over host Nevada. Day two of the tournament featured Illinois State sweeping Weber State 3-0 in the first game of the day and the Redbirds rambled on to hold off UC Davis 3-2 in the nightcap.

Ashley Rosch has played a large role for Illinois State this year as she leads the team with 85 kills (3.04 per set). The sophomore is hitting at a .277 clip and also contributes with 62 digs, 11 blocks and five service aces. Kaitlyn Early sets up the hitters with a team-high 280 assists and Emily Orrick is the defensive specialist with a team-high 89 digs.

The Butler Invitational will be the last non-conference test of the season for Illinois State before the start of the Missouri Valley Conference schedule. The Redbirds host Evansville and Southern Illinois next weekend.

Scouting IPFW (6-2)
The Mastodons hold a 6-2 record heading into the tournament after making quick work of their opponents in the Hyatt Place Invite opening weekend. IPFW rolled to 3-0 wins over Duquesne and Southern Illinois before using four sets to knock off UConn 3-1. The first loss of the year came at Ball State as the Cardinals held off the 'Dons 3-2 at Worthen Arena.

The second tournament of the season for IPFW was the Cleveland State Invite which also featured UC Davis and High Point. The Mastodons took a 3-0 loss to UC Davis in the first match of the weekend, but came back to beat host Cleveland State 3-1 and High Point 3-0. IPFW most recently used a road match at Western Michigan to prep for the upcoming tournament as they traveled to Kalamazoo to defeat the Broncos 3-0.

The focal point of the IPFW offense is junior outside hitter Emily Spencer. The reigning Summit League Player of the Year is leading the team with 125 kills (4.46 per set). Spencer also leads the team with nine service aces and is second on the squad with 70 digs. The trio of Spencer, Sarah Heckman, and Hailie Ripley will protect the net as all three players have 25 blocks or more.

Madison Spence has transitioned into a very good setter for IPFW leading the team with 290 assists and Jen Milligan has played well in the libero roll, leading the team with 113 digs. 

Scouting No. 15 Michigan State (5-1)
The nationally-ranked Spartans shook up the AVCA Coaches Poll last weekend by defeating Oregon 3-1 (25-21, 25-22, 21-25, 25-21) in the Big Ten / Pac-12 Challenge. MSU entered last weekend ranked No. 20, but with wins over both Oregon and Oregon State the Spartans were able to move up to No. 15. The Ducks faced Michigan State as the 12-ranked team in the country, but the setback moved the team back to No. 20.

Head Coach Cathy George picked up her 150th win at Michigan State with the victory over Oregon. Her team enters the weekend with a 5-1 overall record as the Spartans rolled to a 3-0 win over Oregon State (25-12, 25-16, 25-17).

Additional wins for Michigan State in the 2013 season include victories over Saint Francis (PA), Towson, and Virginia Tech. The lone loss of the year came vs. Pacific in the Hokie Invitational as the Tigers earned a straight-set win over the Spartans in Blacksburg, Va. (25-21, 25-17, 25-23).

Fresh off a 25-10 season in 2012, the Spartans return two AVCA All-Americans in Lauren Wicinski and Kori Moster. Wicinski was a First Team All-Big Ten selection a year ago after averaging 4.43 kills per set. Moster earned Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year honors by averaging 4.67 digs per set.

The tandem picked up where they left off last year as Wicinski leads the team with 76 kills (3.80 per set) and Moster is the team-leader in digs with 91 (4.33 per set).

All-Time Series
Butler is 0-3 in the all-time series vs. Illinois State after playing the Redbirds in three consecutive seasons during the early 1990's. Illinois State won the first-ever meeting in 1992 with a 3-0 win at home and the second matchup between the two programs also ended in straight-sets moving the Redbirds to 2-0 all-time. The most recent match was played during the 1994 season as Illinois State once again defeated Butler, this time by the final score of 3-1.

IPFW also leads the all-time series with Butler, holding an 8-3 edge. The two teams last met in a tournament setting in 2009 as IPFW hosted an opening weekend group that included Drake, Eastern Illinois, and Kent State. The Mastodons defeated Butler 3-0 in game two of the tournament, giving the Bulldogs their only loss that weekend. The last win for Butler over IPFW came in 2002 with the Bulldogs taking a 3-0 home victory.

Michigan State holds a narrow 2-0 lead over Butler in the all-time series. The last time the two teams met was during the 1997 NCAA Tournament as the Spartans took a 3-0 victory over Butler in Lincoln, Neb. Ironically, the only other meeting between the programs was played earlier in the 1997 regular season as the Spartans took another 3-0 win over Butler, this time in the Kentucky Conference Challenge.

Randich Out for Season
Senior middle blocker Claire Randich will be sidelined for the rest of the season after tearing both her ACL and MCL in home opener vs. IUPUI. Randich got off to a great start to the 2013 season as she was recognized as an All-Tournament Team selection in the Cincinnati Invitational. She recorded 26 kills, 14 blocks and five service aces before the injury occurred.

Blocking Bulldogs
Butler leads the BIG EAST Conference and is fifth in the nation with a blocks per set average of 3.17. Erica Stahl is currently second in the conference and 10th in the NCAA averaging 1.58 blocks per set and teammate Belle Obert is in a tie for third in the BIG EAST with a 1.29 average.

Team National Rankings
Aces Per Set – 236th, 1.08
Assists Per Set – 133rd, 11.96
Blocks Per Set – 5th, 3.17
Digs Per Set – 25th, 16.96
Hitting % - 101st, .232
Kills Per Set – 152nd, 12.67
Winning % - 29th, .857

Harbison Hurt
Senior Maggie Harbison has been limited in action this season due to an injury. The middle blocker played in three sets at the Arizona Desert Classic, but she wasn't on the court for the 3-0 sweep over Wright State on Tuesday.

All-Time Record Milestone
The Butler volleyball program will be playing for win number 700 this weekend as the all-time record moved to 699-520-1 with the win over Wright State. Current head coach Sharon Clark has put her stamp on the program by recording more wins than any other coach as she is now at 215 wins entering her 14th season.

Double-Double Count
Belle Obert:
10 kills / 10 digs at Cincinnati
20 kills / 17 digs vs. IUPUI
14 kills / 11 digs vs. Eastern Kentucky

Morgan Peterson:
40 assists / 10 digs vs. Morehead State
24 assists / 15 digs vs. Tennessee
56 assists / 18 digs vs. IUPUI

Mary Striedl:
10 kills / 10 digs vs. Morehead State
10 kills / 13 digs vs. IUPUI

Season High Marks vs. Wright State
- Stephanie Kranda recorded a season-high six blocks.
- Kelly Kyle recorded two service aces.
- Erica Stahl recorded nine kills.

All-Tournament Team Selections
Belle Obert was named Tournament MVP at the Cincinnati Invitational for her outstanding play and teammates Morgan Peterson and Claire Randich each earned All-Tournament Team honors. Obert was also recognized as an All-Tournament Team selection in the Arizona Classic along with middle blocker Erica Stahl.

Up Next
The Bulldogs will host Green Bay, UT-Martin and Toledo in the Butler Classic from Sept. 20-21. Game times are scheduled for 11 a.m., 3 p.m., and 7 p.m. each day.