Oct. 9, 2004
Saturday's bout between the Horizon League's two unbeaten teams certainly lived up to the hype. Butler, using its best defensive effort of the season, fought off visiting UW-Milwaukee to take an 18-30, 30-17, 30-21, 25-30, 15-11 win. With the victory, Butler improves to 10-7 overall and lays claim to sole possession of first place in the league standings at 5-0, while the Panthers drop to 8-7 overall and 4-1 in league play.
Senior Areal Bienemy led the Bulldogs with 22 kills and eight blocks, while Kali Carter posted her 15th double-double of the season with 15 kills and a match-high 29 digs. She was one of five Bulldogs in double figures in digs. Despite the performances of the team's top two seniors, the match was won with Butler's defense against the Panthers' Karen Fruit, the league's leader in kills, who posted 31 last night in a win over Wright State.
"Fruit is a phenomenal player, but we did a great job defending her tonight," said coach Sharon Clark of her team holding the "All-Horizon League" performer to .081 hitting. "We knew this game would be won and lost with defense and we got great efforts across the board. I can't say enough about our defense and blocking in this match. We could play every match like this and it's great to see that we had the confidence to get over the hump today."
Senior Sara Gallagher handed out 52 assists in the match, including the 1,000th of her Butler career, as the Bulldogs hit .199 for the match. Gallagher posted a double-double, adding 12 digs. Junior Megan Knightly had 27 of the team's 113 digs, while sophomore Susana Henri had a career-high 19. She also added a personal-best nine kills in the match. Sophomore Laura White finished with 16 digs, one shy of the career-high she set Friday against UW-Green Bay.
UW-Milwaukee got out of the gates strong, establishing an early 8-3 lead. The Panthers held the lead for the rest of the game, using 17 kills to take a 30-18 decision. Butler rebounded strong in the second game, knocking down 16 kills with no hitting errors en route to .533 hitting and a 30-17 second-game win. Krystal Hendrix, Bienemy and Carter each had five kills in the stanza, as Butler posted five blocks to none for the Panthers.
After the break, Butler continued to apply pressure, using 21 kills to take the third game 30-21. The Bulldogs hit .281 in the frame. With the score tied at six, the Bulldogs would win 11 of the next 14 points to go out to a 17-9 lead and coast to victory. UW-Milwaukee refused to go quietly, jumping out 16-5 in the fourth game and won 30-25. A late run by Butler wasn't enough, as ten hitting errors by the Bulldogs sent the match to a deciding fifth game.
In the fifth, the teams would not get more than two points apart until Butler used a 3-0 run to go from 10-9 to 13-9. Butler would win 15-11 to break a seven-match losing streak to the Panthers. Bienemy's four kills and the team's three blocks in the deciding game proved to be the difference, as Butler held UW-Milwaukee to -.024 hitting.
Rachel Kuebbing led the Panthers with 22 kills, while Fruit had 18 kills and 18 digs. The Panthers also had five players in double figures in kills.
Butler takes their undefeated league record on the road next weekend to UIC Friday and Loyola Saturday. Saturday's match against the 4-1 Ramblers will be a challenge for Butler, as Loyola knocked off top-ten Illinois earlier this season. The Bulldogs' next home match is Friday, Oct. 22 against Wright State.