The Butler University volleyball team hung tough with three different teams over the course of 14 games at the Notre Dame Invitational, but they came up short in all three matches and started the season with a 0-3 mark.
The Bulldogs lost the first match 3-2 to Idaho and fell to Eastern Michigan by the same margin in the second match.
On the final day of the invitational, Butler gave Notre Dame a run for its money but dropped the match 3-1 to end their tournament.
Against Idaho, the Bulldogs fell behind two games to none before battling back to force a decisive fifth game.
“We got off to a slow start, but once we got together and regrouped ourselves, we came out with fire, and we got those two games right back,” senior middle blocker Maureen Bamiro said.
The Vandals (1-2) proved to be too much for the Bulldogs, however, winning the final game 15-11.
Freshman outside hitter Kelly Kyle led Butler with 13 kills and 10 digs, while Bamiro, a returning all-league and all-region player, added 10 kills and four digs.
Junior setter Gina Vera, who ranked fifth in the Horizon League in assists last season, provided 47 of them for the Bulldogs.
“We came back and fought and that shows a lot of character in us,” Bamiro said. “We have the ability to be great. We just have to learn how to put our abilities together and finish a game.”
The Bulldogs would get another chance to finish their match against Eastern Michigan, which lasted five games.
Butler lost the first game before picking up consecutive victories. After the Eagles (2-1) won the fourth game, they used the momentum to capture the fifth game 17-15.
Bamiro led the team with 19 kills, and sophomore outside hitter Maggie Harbison added 17 kills and 11 digs to bolster Butler’s offense.
The Bulldogs won more points than Eastern Michigan, outscoring them 113-95, but close games were the Achilles’ heel for Butler.
“We made a lot of unforced errors at the wrong times,” Harbison said. “We just need to be more consistent.”
The Bulldogs wrapped up their weekend with a match against Notre Dame.
Butler split the first two games with the Fighting Irish (3-0), but Notre Dame proved to be too much for Butler, taking the final two games for a 3-1 victory.
The win allowed the Fighting Irish to capture the invitational crown and achieve their best start to a season since 2006.
Bamiro again led the Bulldogs in kills, tallying 13 along with 5 blocks. Sophomore libero Maureen Nesbit chipped in with a team-high 16 digs.
Butler did not get the results it wanted over the weekend, but Bamiro said the squad did leave with an idea of what it needed to work on as the season progresses.
“We made a lot of progress,” Bamiro said. “We just have to work on putting it all together. Just working on that constant repetition and finding our niche, and just doing it over and over again so that we don’t have to think about it [will help us].”
The Bulldogs will return to action this Thursday when they head west to compete in the Portland Classic.
In the Classic, they will take on teams from Portland, Texas A&M, Nevada and Washington State.