Starting off their season against stiff competition in Waco, Texas, the Butler women’s volleyball team went 0-3 last weekend in the Baylor University Classic.
Despite the three losses, the squad did get to see its new freshmen in action for the first time and tested several new lineups.
“It’s always tough to go 0-3,” head coach Sharon Clark said. “But I’m not too disappointed. We scheduled the tournament for tough competition and it definitely gave us a chance to try a lot of new things.”
Beginning the tournament on Friday night, the Bulldogs faced off against Southern Methodist University (SMU), dropping their season opener 1-3.
In the first set, the SMU Mustangs opened the scoring behind the serving of junior Kelli Beccera, jumping out to a 3-0 lead.
Butler never had the chance to lead during the first set as Beccera, who was later named to the All-Tournament Team, served for 10 of SMU’s points.
The Mustangs won the first set 18-25.
Butler rallied in the second set and won 25-18, aided by seven kills from senior Jessie Wolfe.
The Bulldogs led late in the third set, 17-16, but could only manage one more point the rest of the set and the Mustangs took a 2-1 overall lead.
Butler stumbled early in the fourth set, making nine errors in the first eleven points to find themselves down 10-1.
SMU finished the set 25-10 and won the match 3-1.
“Despite the score, the games were pretty close,” Clark said. “But by the fourth game [SMU] had the control and confidence and we could not get it to swing back our way.”
Butler did not have long to reflect on their loss as they faced the Lumberjacks of Stephen F. Austin State University Saturday morning.
Butler kept the first two sets close but lost both in the final points.
“We had trouble finishing at the end of sets,” sophomore Gina Vera said. “I think we weren’t able get those last points. We readjusted at halftime and told ourselves, ‘We’re not going to get swept.’”
The adjustments worked in the third set. Butler was finally able to finish off the Lumberjacks 26-24.
The Bulldogs kept up the pressure in the fourth set, running up an 8-1 lead off the serving of senior Katie Daprile and freshman Maggie Harbison.
Butler never let Stephen F. Austin back into the match, winning 25-18 to even up the match at two games apiece.
In the final set, the Bulldogs stayed close, never letting the Lumberjacks up by more than two points, until Stephen F. Austin closed out the set 15-12 and the match 3-2.
Despite the loss, Butler had several outstanding individual performances.
Daprile accumulated 33 digs, which is the tenth-highest single game total in Butler history.
Vera racked up 55 assists while Wolfe and junior Maureen Bamiro combined for 47 kills for the Bulldogs.
“Bamiro had a good weekend,” Clark said. “She was great at the net and for Katie, that 30 digs club is a milestone for a single match.”
Wolfe, who also had 18 kills against SMU and 14 kills against Baylor, was named to the All-Tournament Team.
After the loss to Stephen F. Austin, the Bulldogs had to come back later in the day to face Baylor, the tournament host.
Butler battled with the Bears, who made it to last year’s Sweet Sixteen, in the first set and had a game point opportunity leading 24-23, but Baylor carried the next three points to win the first set 26-24.
After the first set, the Bears started to assert themselves rolling in the next two sets 25-17.
Although the Bulldogs returned home without a win, the tournament was a chance for a team with so many new players to start building an identity.
“I think the toughest thing is getting everyone settled into their roles,” Clark said. “We all have to figure out where everyone fits.”
Vera agreed with Clark that it was a problem that the team could only fix together.
“As a team, we need to adapt quicker and start talking sooner,” Vera said. “We didn’t react fast enough last weekend. Another thing we’ll be working on is sticking to the scouting.”
Butler bounced back in their first home game of the season, defeating Marian University 25-15, 25-22, 25-19.
Bamiro was the backbone for the Bulldogs at the net. She hit 0.786 (11 kills, 14 attempts) and had 3.5 blocks.
Wolfe also had 11 kills and added 13 digs.
The squad will be back on the road this weekend at the University of Arizona Classic in Tuscon, Ariz. where it will take on Arizona, Cal State Bakersfield and Louisville.