Butler is now tied with Milwaukee for first place in the Horizon League after blocking conference foe Wright State off the court last Friday in a 3-1 win.
As SuperCuts hairdressers helped willing fans donate to the Locks of Love foundation, the Bulldogs (8-6, 3-0 HL) trimmed down the Raiders (6-8, 1-2 HL) with defense.
Butler had 12.5 team blocks and dug most of the balls that got past the front line.
Junior middle Maureen Bamiro led the team with 3.5 blocks in the match.
Bamiro was named Horizon League Defensive Player of the Week for Sept. 20-26 after compiling 14 blocks in two matches last week.
“Blocking has always been one of our strengths,” senior middle Jalesa Lee said. “The entire week we had been focusing on defense, and you could tell during the match.”
Lee was one of four Bulldogs who had two blocks against the Raiders.
In the back row, the team saved 68 attacks in four sets, and five different players had double-digit digs with senior
Jessie Wolfe leading the team with 15.
“Everybody has been contributing to that team defense, and that’s why we’re doing so well in the Horizon League,” second assistant coach Nina Inic said.
Entering the match on a three-match win streak, the Bulldogs grabbed the momentum from the start of the first set with a 6-1 run.
From there, the
Bulldogs heavy hitting took over. Eighteen team kills led Butler to a 25-21 win.
“We wanted to focus on jumping on it right away,” Inic said. “It’s not really something that you work on. It’s more of a mindset of ‘get in there and get it done.’”
The Bulldogs used the same template for the second set, starting with an 8-2 run. Butler knocked in 16 kills on only three errors.
The Bulldogs finished the set with the same intensity that they started, winning 25-17 and taking a 2-0 lead into the break.
“One thing we’ve been trying to eliminate is our errors and play a smarter game,” Lee said. “We have to know when we have the right opportunities to go for it and when to take your time and play smart.”
The Bulldogs came out flat during the third set. Butler tied the set at 17 after being down 10-2. However, the Raiders took the final eight points to win the game 25-17.
After hitting only .026 on six errors in the third set, the Bulldogs got back on track in set four with another early run, capturing eight of the first 10 points.
Butler protected its lead with more team defense and won the match on one of Bamiro’s team-leading 13 kills, which finalized a .417 hitting percentage.
“Bamiro was unstoppable at the net,” Inic said. “And Gina [Vera] made some good decisions at crucial moments, and that is a big reason why we’re playing so well.”
Senior outside Jessie Wolfe and freshman opposite Maggie Harbison were in full support of Bamiro with 11 kills and 10 kills, respectively.
After being ranked fourth in the coaches’ preseason poll, Butler now finds themselves sitting atop the Horizon League standings.
“I felt like we all thought that we had something to prove and that we were underestimated [in the rankings],” Lee said. “We’ve been working really hard and are hungry to prove them wrong.”
Butler hosts the UIC Flames (7-7, 2-2 HL) this Saturday in Hinkle Fieldhouse and will look to extend their winning streak to five matches.