Facing a team on a 10-match winning streak is problem enough for many volleyball teams.
When the Butler volleyball team was handed that scenario on Saturday with a match against Wisconsin-Milwaukee, the Bulldogs had to deal with an unanticipated problem as well.
“We were really dead,” sophomore outside hitter Maggie Harbison said.
The lack of energy exerted by the Bulldogs (10-13, 6-5) combined with strong play by the visiting Panthers (18-4, 11-0) pushed Milwaukee past Butler in three sets.
The victory allowed the Panthers to remain undefeated in Horizon League action.
“Milwaukee is good, but they aren’t that good,” Butler coach Sharon Clark said. “We didn’t play very well, and it’s disappointing.”
Milwaukee scored the first four points in the opening set to create a gap that Butler was never able to close.
The Panthers put together multiple point streaks behind their .371 hitting percentage and topped the Bulldogs in kills 17-10.
Statistical domination translated to a 25-17 first-set victory for Milwaukee.
The second set saw the Bulldogs tally five points in six serves to pull to 15-14.
The Panthers responded quickly however, putting together a five-point streak and pushing their lead to 21-15.
Milwaukee closed out the set moments later, winning 25-19.
The Bulldogs picked up their first lead of the match by grabbing an early 2-1 advantage in the third set.
Butler led late in the set 21-20 before Milwaukee made a final push to capture a 25-23 win and 3-0 match victory.
“You need to have a match where you lose sometimes,” Harbison said. “Hopefully it’ll wake us up.”
Freshman outside hitter Belle Obert had seven kills and 11 digs for the Bulldogs, freshman outside hitter Kelly Kyle had a team-high 10 kills and freshman libero Brooke Ruffolo added a team-high 19 digs.
Butler will welcome Valparaiso and Illinois-Chicago to Hinkle Fieldhouse on Friday and Saturday for two more conference matches.
“We need to practice and work hard this week,” Clark said.