September 26, 2013

Volleyball Opens BIG EAST Schedule with Xavier

Twitter - @ButlerVB

Weekend Schedule
Friday, Sept. 27
Butler vs. Xavier – 7 p.m.

Saturday, Sept. 28
Butler vs. Marian – 4 p.m.

INDIANAPOLIS – The women's volleyball team will host two matches over the weekend as the BIG EAST conference opener sets the tone on Friday, Sept. 27. The Bulldogs will host the Xavier Musketeers at 7 p.m. and end the weekend hosting Marian on Saturday at 4 p.m.

About Butler (12-2)
The Bulldogs return to action for the first time since winning the Butler Classic with a 3-0 sweep over Toledo. Butler defeated Green Bay and UT Martin on Friday and completed the tournament with a perfect record after taking down the Rockets on Saturday.

Morgan Peterson was named tournament MVP as she recorded her fifth double-double match of the season against Toledo. Erica Stahl and Belle Obert were also high impact players over the weekend which led to them begin recognized on the Butler Classic All-Tournament Team.

The Bulldogs are 7-1 at home, 1-1 as the visiting team and 4-0 on a neutral court. The first loss of the season came at Arizona in the Desert Classic and the second setback was a 3-0 loss to nationally ranked Michigan State in the Butler Invitational.

11 of Butler's first 14 matches have ended in three sets. The Bulldogs hold a 9-2 mark in three-set matches and are a perfect 1-0 in four-set games. Only two matches have went the distance as Butler defeated IUPUI 3-2 in the home opener and the team rallied for a 3-2 comeback win over Illinois State in the opening game of the Butler Invitational.

Outside hitter Belle Obert has been great through the first half of the season, leading the team in kills with 169 (3.60 per set). Obert is a well-rounded player that also contributes with 95 digs, 52 blocks and eight service aces.

Preseason All-BIG EAST selection Erica Stahl has been another bright spot on the Butler roster as she enters the weekend as the team's blocks leader with 64. The junior averages 1.36 blocks per set and also helps the team offensively with 87 kills.

Peterson and Brooke Ruffolo will be instrumental to the team throughout the BIG EAST season as the duo specializes as the teams designated setter and defensive specialist. Peterson has 448 assists, 124 digs and 63 kills on the year while Ruffolo leads the club with 213 digs.

Scouting Xavier (7-6)
The Musketeers have played in four tournaments early in the 2013 season to reach their overall record of 7-6. The team most recently dropped three-straight matches in the UC Irvine Invitational which included Fresno State and American along with host UC Irvine.

Two ranked opponents have appeared on the schedule with the team facing No. 7 Michigan in the home opener and No. 13 Ohio State on Sept. 14. Each nationally ranked opponent defeated Xavier with the Wolverines recording a 3-0 sweep and the Buckeyes taking a 3-1 win.

The Musketeers are nationally ranked 27th in both assists per set (13.25) and digs per set (16.42). Their top placement comes in the kills per set category as they rank 26th (14.19).

Three players have over 100 kills for Xavier with Abbey Bessler leading the team at 155. Bessler is a high-impact player that also contributes with digs (136), blocks (28), assists (24) and service aces (12).

Alex Smith has provided Xavier with 129 kills and she leads the club with a hitting percentage at .418. Smith is ranked 25th in the country with her .418 attack percentage

Scouting Marian (9-5)
The Knights got off to a 5-1 start to the regular season but head into the weekend with an overall record of 9-5. Marian (NAIA) will host DePauw at 7 p.m. on Thursday night before playing at Hinkle Fieldhouse against the Bulldogs on Saturday afternoon.

Becky Gramer leads the team with 172 kills, averaging just over 3 kills per set through the first 14 matches of the season. Gramer also has 130 digs to go along with 10 service aces. The Knights have three additional players that serve the ball well in Kacie Kelly, Taylor Greenan and Katie Kaiser. Kelly leads the team with 17 aces and is also the team leader in assists with 376.

Greenan leads the defensive effort with a team-high 298 digs. Greenan and the Knight defense will attempt to slow down the Butler attack as three players have 30 blocks or more. Butler holds the upper hand at the net having a team total of 136.5.

All-Time Series
Butler will attempt to even the all-time series against Xavier as the Musketeers hold a 12-11 advantage. The Bulldogs have not defeated Xavier since the 1993 season when they recorded a 3-1 road victory. The Musketeers swept the season series when each team played in the Atlantic 10 conference (2012) and they recorded a 3-2 win over the Bulldogs in the 2010 Butler Invitational.

The Bulldogs hold a 17-5 edge over Marian in the all-time series. Butler increased the advantage most recently in 2010 with a 3-0 win over the Knights in late August.

Fast Start
The Bulldogs are off to a great start to the 2013 season with a 12-2 overall record. With the victory over Toledo in the Butler Classic championship match, Head Coach Sharon Clark has guided the team to the best start during her tenure, surpassing the 2008 team who started the year 11-3.

The last Butler volleyball team to open the season 12-2 overall was back in 1997 with Head Coach Sharon Dingman. Under Dingman's guidance, the Bulldogs posted a 28-7 record and won the MCC Tournament Championship which led to an NCAA Tournament game. The 1988 team also started the year 12-2 which led to an overall record of 29-7.

BIG EAST Standings
1) DePaul, 12-0
2) Butler, 12-2
3) #23 Creighton, 9-3
4) St. John's, 11-5
5) Villanova, 8-5
6) Marquette, 6-4
7) Xavier, 7-6
8) Georgetown, 6-7
9) Seton Hall, 5-6

Team National Rankings
Aces Per Set – 197th, 1.19
Assists Per Set – 119th, 12.11
Blocks Per Set – 8th, 2.90
Digs Per Set – 54th, 15.85
Hitting % - 52nd, .255
Kills Per Set – 114th, 13.06
Winning % - 28th, .857

Individual National Rankings
Assists Per Set: Morgan Peterson, 136th – 9.53
Blocks Per Set: Erica Stahl, 26th – 1.36
Blocks Per Set: Belle Obert, 140th – 1.11
Digs Per Set: Brooke Ruffolo, 73rd – 4.53
Hitting Percentage: Erica Stahl, 97th - .355
Kills Per Set: Belle Obert, 94th – 3.60
Points Per Set: Belle Obert, 54th – 4.40

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
49 assists / 18 digs vs. Illinois State
34 assists / 12 digs vs. Toledo

Mary Striedl:
10 kills / 10 digs vs. Morehead State
10 kills / 13 digs vs. IUPUI
17 kills / 20 digs vs. Illinois State

Season-High Marks Set at the Butler Classic
- Maggie Harbison tallied eight kills and scored 13.5 points vs. Toledo
- Harbison added a season-high five digs, three service aces and five blocks vs. the Rockets
- Belle Obert recorded seven blocks vs. Toledo
- Erica Stahl posted a .667 (7-1-9) attack percentage vs. UT Martin

All-Tournament Team Selections
Cincinnati Invitational: Belle Obert (MVP), Morgan Peterson, Claire Randich
Arizona Classic: Belle Obert and Erica Stahl
Butler Invitational: Belle Obert and Brooke Ruffolo
Butler Classic: Morgan Peterson (MVP), Belle Obert, Erica Stahl

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 the 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. 

Up Next
The Bulldogs will host Pink Weekend in early October with three matches in three days. The event will start on Friday Oct. 4 with a 7 p.m. match vs. Creighton. Saturday's contest will feature Butler and St. John's and the final match of the weekend will have the Bulldogs hosting Seton Hall on Oct. 6.