Cleveland, Ohio - Jessica Wolfe tallied her 12th double-double of the season, Dana Daprile notched her sixth and Maureen Bamiro posted a career-high eight blocks, as the fifth-seeded Bulldogs rallied from a crushing opening-set loss to score a 7-25, 25-23, 25-15, 25-23 victory over fourth-seeded Loyola in the quarterfinals of the Horizon League Championship on Friday (Nov. 21) afternoon at Woodling Gymnasium.
Butler advances on to the semifinal round on Saturday (Nov. 22) where it will take on top-seeded Milwaukee beginning at 12:30 p.m. at Woodling Gym.
What could have been a demoralizing first-set defeat turned out to be a rallying point for the Bulldogs, as they clawed their way back to even with a two-point win in the second set before claiming a convincing third set decision to put themselves in front in the match.
Clinging to life in the fourth game, Loyola rallied back to take a two-point edge late at 23-21 and appeared to be on the brink of forcing a decisive fifth set, but the comeback would end there as the Bulldogs scored four-straight points to come away with the victory.
The opening set was over almost as soon as it got started, as the Ramblers raced ahead to a 9-0 lead and hit .577 (16-1-26) en route to a dominant 25-7 decision.
The Bulldogs would rebound nicely in the second set, however, coming back from as much as a four-point deficit to claim a 25-23 victory to even the match at 1-1.
Butler found itself trailing 11-7 before rallying on a 6-1 run to take a 13-12 advantage. The two squads would battle through five ties and two lead changes over the next 15 points before a kill by Porshia Allen and a pair of attack errors on the Ramblers gave the Bulldogs a 23-20 lead.
Loyola would cut the difference to one with two-straight points, but a kill by Allen and another by Daprile on match point helped give the Bulldogs a 25-23 decision to even the match.
Butler carried its momentum out of the break and into the third set, riding six-straight points to turn an 8-7 deficit into a 13-8 advantage early in the period. The Bulldogs would lead by no fewer than four the rest of the way, as Butler combined for four blocks - including three by Bamiro - while holding the Ramblers to just .067 hitting in the set.
With victory in sight for the Bulldogs and elimination staring down Loyola, the two squads scuffled through a grueling fourth set that featured 12 ties and eight lead changes.
The Ramblers took the lead late in the set on a kill by Sarah Singer to go up 22-21 and put themselves in position to force a fifth set after a ball handling error was whistled on the Bulldogs on the ensuing play.
Finding itself in the same position as it did late in the critical second set, Butler duplicated its resilient effort by scoring four-consecutive points to hold on for the win.
Butler out-hit the Ramblers .256 to .172 in the match, including .287 to .084 in the final three sets. The Bulldogs also used a superior blocking performance, topping Loyola 11 to 4.5 in that category.
Wolfe led the Bulldogs with 14 kills and 15 digs in nabbing her 12th double-double of the season, while Daprile dished a match-high 35 assists while adding 10 kills on .500 hitting (10-2-16). Bamiro registered a career-high eight total blocks (two solo, six assists) and hit .400 (7-1-15) in the match, while Allen finished a kill and two digs shy of her 14th double-double of the season with nine kills and eight digs.
The win is the Bulldogs first in the Horizon League Championship since scoring a 3-0 victory over Wright State in the second round of the 2003 tournament.