The Butler volleyball team captured its first two wins of the season last week, first taking their home opener against Marian University 3-0 Aug. 31, before beating Cal State-Bakersfield 3-1 Friday, during the University of Arizona Wildcat Classic.
But the Bulldogs (2-5) dropped their other two matches at the tournament, including a match against 24th-ranked Arizona.
They finished 1-1 on the first day.
The Bulldogs battled the Arizona Wildcats first and nearly took the opening set, but Arizona went on an 8-2 run to finish the set and won 25-19.
After losing the second set 17-25, the serving of senior libero Katie Daprile led Butler to a 5-0 lead in the third set.
Arizona responded, earning six straight points, and eventually won the set 25-22.
“The biggest thing for us this weekend was improving,” Clark said. “I definitely saw a lot of improvement. The team was more cohesive.”
That cohesion showed Friday against CSU-Bakersfield, which is new to Division 1 this season.
After dropping the first set 20-25, Butler bounced back with a five-point victory of its own.
“We have a tendency to start off slow in matches,” Daprile said. “But once we get going, we play our best.”
The hitting of senior Jessie Wolfe (20 kills) and junior Maureen Bamiro (12 kills) allowed the Bulldogs to run away with the final two sets, 25-19 and 25-11, and thus the match, 3-1.
Wolfe’s and Bamiro’s efforts earned them All-Tournament team honors.
The Bulldogs’ final match of the tournament was against Louisville. Butler stayed close to the Cardinals but struggled to find points late in the sets.
Butler was tied at 23 but could not overcome 10 hitting errors and lost the first set 23-25.
“We just had too many errors this weekend,” Clark said. “I think that as a team we are still getting to know each other a little.”
Louisville capitalized on 13 more Butler errors in the second set, winning 20-25.
The Bulldogs rallied and won the third set 25-22 before losing the final set 21-25 to end the match.
“We need to focus on finishing matches,” Daprile said. “We try to break up each set into smaller sets, like the first to five points, but we lost sight of that in Arizona.
“Once we get going and start having fun, that’s when we play our best.”
The Bulldogs host UNC-Wilmington, Army and Xavier this weekend at the Butler Invitational.
Their first match is Friday against the Seahawks of UNC-Wilmington.
Butler’s home winning streak is currently at 10 games. Their last loss in Hinkle came on Nov. 14, 2009, against Wright State.