Volleyball Shifts Focus to Creighton

Twitter - @ButlerVB

Weekend Schedule
Sunday, Oct. 20
Butler at Creighton – 2 p.m.

INDIANAPOLIS – The Bulldogs will be on the road this weekend as they face the Creighton Bluejays at D.J. Sokol Arena on Sunday, Oct. 20. The match will begin at 2 p.m.

About Butler (16-4, 3-2 BIG EAST)
The Bulldogs are off to a good start in the BIG EAST as they hold a 3-2 record against conference foes. The team is 4-1 in their last five games with the only loss of that stretch coming at Xavier on Oct. 11. The Musketeers swept the season series against Butler as they defeated the 'Dogs in the BIG EAST opener on Sept. 27.

Butler improved their league record with three wins over conference opponents during the first weekend of October. The winning streak started with a 3-1 win over nationally-ranked Creighton on Friday, Oct. 4. The Bulldogs rode the momentum the rest of the weekend by earning a 3-0 win over St. John's on Saturday night and a sweep over Seton Hall on Sunday.

An impressive 11-2 record at home has helped Butler build their 16-4 overall record. Road matches have been rare as the team has only played three all season. Butler won 3-0 at Cincinnati in the season opener but lost at Arizona and at Xavier. Playing on a neutral court wasn't a problem as Butler posted a 4-0 record in tournament competition.

Belle Obert has put together a fantastic junior season as she leads the team with 292 points. A well-rounded player, Obert has 232 kills (3.36 per set), 140 digs, 78 blocks, and 15 service aces. She has played in all 69 sets and posts an attack percentage of .265.

Other Bulldogs to reach 100 kills or more includes Erica Stahl, Mary Striedl, and Stephanie Kranda. Stahl leads the team in two major categories as she hits .338 from the front line and also leads the team in blocks with 87.

Striedl is another dual threat for Butler as her 186 digs on the season marks the second highest total on the team. The final member of the 100 kills club has really stepped her game up in BIG EAST competition as Kranda leads the team with 54 kills against conference opponents. She is hitting .272 through those five matches with 20 digs and seven blocks.

Other key players in the Butler rotation include setter Morgan Peterson, defensive specialist Brooke Ruffolo and senior middle blocker Maggie Harbison. Peterson sets the offensive tempo with a team-high 638 assists on the year. A solid all-around athlete, Peterson also adds 94 kills, 164 digs, 41 blocks and nine service aces to her season stat totals.

Ruffolo is the team leader in digs with 320. The 5-5 junior averages 4.78 per set and is also a threat when serving as she is third on the team with 11 service aces. The Bulldogs top serving threat is Harbison who leads the club with 18 aces. The senior battled an injury early in the season, but has impacted multiple matches recently with 85 kills and 49 blocks through 43 sets played.

Scouting Creighton (12-4, 3-1 BIG EAST)
The Bluejays are near the top of the BIG EAST standings with a 3-1 conference record. Their only blemish came at Hinkle Fieldhouse as the Bulldogs knocked the team from the AVCA Coaches poll. The team responded well after losing to Butler in their BIG EAST opener as they recorded 3-1 wins over both Xavier and DePaul. The Jays most recently won a home match vs. Marquette 3-0. Creighton will host Xavier on Friday before playing the Bulldogs on Sunday.

Creighton is led by junior setter Michelle Sicner who was recently named Sports Imports/AVCA National Player of the Week after recording two triple-doubles. Sicner is the first player in Creighton volleyball history to earn the award as she helped her team record wins over DePaul and Marquette. Sicner opened the week with 39 assists, 12 digs and a career-high 12 kills vs. the Blue Demons and then recorded 33 assists 15 digs and 12 kills in a 3-0 sweep vs. the Golden Eagles.

The Bluejays have five players with 100 kills or more and Sicner will most likely be the sixth as she enters the weekend with 93. Kate Elman leads the team in digs with 217 and Kelli Browning is the team leader in blocks with 87. Leah McNary leads Creighton with 188 kills (3.13 per set) and Lizzy Stivers has the best serve on the team with 17 aces.

Last Meeting
Butler defeated Creighton 3-1 on Oct. 4 earlier this season to knock Creighton out of the AVCA Coaches Top 25 Poll. After taking a tough 26-24 loss in the opening set, the Bulldogs responded by winning three-straight sets to earn the win (24-26, 25-20, 25-17, 25-22).

The Bulldogs hit .200 or better in every set to defeat the Bluejays. Four players reached a double figure kill total as Erica Stahl led the way with 13. Stahl was impressive against the Jays as she posted an attack percentage of .500 while also chipping in with five blocks and two digs.

Morgan Peterson nearly reached a triple-double as she helped lead Butler to victory with a match-high 47 assists. The senior ended the match with eight kills, eight digs and four blocks. Sophomore Mary Striedl nearly pulled off a double-double performance as she recorded 10 kills and seven digs. The outside hitter had two big kills in the fourth set to seal the win for the Bulldogs.

Brooke Ruffolo, Belle Obert and Maggie Harbison also impacted the match in a variety of ways. Ruffolo led the team with 22 digs and Obert was all over the floor with 10 kills, six digs, three blocks and two assists. Harbison came up with the teams only service ace of the night while also posting seven kills and three blocks.

All-Time Series
Butler now holds a 1-0 lead over Creighton in the all-time series as they defeated the Bluejays 3-1 on Oct. 4 in the first ever meeting.

On the Attack
The Bulldogs posted the second highest hitting percentage in school history against St. John's on Oct. 5 going off for 40 kills in just 69 attempts to post a .507 attack percentage. The team only committed five hitting errors as they swept the Red Strom 3-0.

BIG EAST Standings
1) Xavier, 4-1 BIG EAST, 12-7 Overall
2) Creighton, 3-1 BIG EAST, 12-4 Overall
3) Marquette, 3-1 BIG EAST, 11-5 Overall
4) Butler, 3-2 BIG EAST, 16-4 Overall
5) St. John's, 2-3 BIG EAST, 13-8 Overall
6) Villanova, 2-3 BIG EAST, 10-8 Overall
7) Georgetown, 2-3 BIG EAST, 8-10 Overall
8) DePaul, 1-3 BIG EAST, 15-3 Overall
9) Seton Hall, 1-4 BIG EAST, 8-10 Overall

Team National Rankings
Aces Per Set – 121st, 1.29
Assists Per Set – 111th, 12.19
Blocks Per Set – 7th, 2.88
Digs Per Set – 34th, 16.30
Hitting % - 35th, .257
Kills Per Set – 106th, 13.17
Winning % - 28th, .800

Individual National Rankings
Assists Per Set: Morgan Peterson, 147th – 9.52
Blocks Per Set: Erica Stahl, 47th – 1.26
Blocks Per Set: Belle Obert, 114th – 1.13
Digs Per Set: Brooke Ruffolo, 49th – 4.78
Hitting Percentage: Erica Stahl, 109th - .338
Kills Per Set: Belle Obert, 144th – 3.36
Points Per Set: Belle Obert, 69th – 4.23

NCAA Volleyball RPI
Butler is listed 44th in the most recent NCAA women's volleyball RPI poll. The BIG EAST has two teams listed in the top 25 with Marquette coming in at 21 and Creighton atop the league at 7.

Double-Double Count
Belle Obert:
10 kills / 10 digs at Cincinnati
20 kills / 17 digs vs. IUPUI
14 kills / 11 digs vs. Eastern Kentucky
10 kills / 21 digs at Xavier (10/11)

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
41 assists / 12 digs vs. Xavier (9/27)
48 assists / 15 digs at Xavier (10/11)

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 Xavier (10/11)
- Stephanie Kranda recorded 16 kills on 44 attempts to score 18 points.
- Maggie Harbison recorded 11 kills on 33 attempts while adding seven digs.
- Belle Obert recorded 21 digs and eight blocks.
- Kristen Webb recorded 16 digs.

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
Butler will end the month of October with two road matches at Seton Hall and at St. John's. The Seton Hall match will be played on Friday, Oct. 25 at 4 p.m. with the match against the Red Storm to follow on Saturday, Oct. 26 at 7 p.m. The Bulldogs will return to Hinkle Fieldhouse on Nov. 1 with a 7 p.m. match vs. Marquette.