The Butler volleyball team won its final two matches of the regular season, led by the Horizon League offensive and defensive players of the week— seniors Jessie Wolfe and Katie Daprile, respectively. The Bulldogs beat Youngstown State, 3-0, Nov. 12 and Cleveland State, 3-1, Nov. 13 to secure second place in the Horizon League.
The win also secured a first-round bye for the Bulldogs (19- 9, 13-3 HL) in this weekend’s Horizon League tournament. Butler recorded its best conference record since 2004, when the Bulldogs went 12-2.
Head coach Sharon Clark said she was excited about her team’s achievements.
“It feels good,” Clark said. “We’ve worked hard and played hard all season and earned that spot.”
Coming off back-to-back home losses the previous week, the Bulldogs got back on track against the Penguins (2-27, 0-16 HL) Friday at Hinkle Fieldhouse.
The Bulldogs took control of the match in the first set.
Aided by the strong serving of Daprile and fellow senior Maureen Bamiro, Butler jumped out to a 14-3 lead. From there, the Bulldogs cruised to a 25-19 win in the first set.
Butler continued its dominance in games two and three, winning 25-17 and 25-14, respectively.
“It was good to go out there and aggressively dismantle the other team,” Clark said.
Butler still needed a win against the Vikings (21-6, 11-5 HL) to secure second place in the conference. Butler took another early lead after a kill by Wolfe gave the Bulldogs a 25-17 victory in set one. Wolfe controlled the match on both sides of the ball, finishing the match with 21 kills and 20 digs.
Bamiro added 12 kills to Butler’s total and had six block assists.
“[Bamiro and Wolfe], physically, are our leaders,” Clark said. “We depend on them so much, and when they’ve needed to, they’ve carried us offensively and defensively this year.”
After winning set two, 25-20, the Bulldogs dropped the third set, 25-18. The team quickly rallied, forcing eight Viking errors en route to a 25-15 fourth-set win and a 3-1 match victory.
“It’s huge to be able to get that win,” Clark said. “Cleveland State is a darn good team, and we knew we were going to have to give them our best.”
The win secured the Bulldogs’ No. 2 seed in the Horizon League tournament, which will be held in Milwaukee this weekend.
The Bulldogs won their only game at Milwaukee’s arena this year and are the only conference team to have beaten the Panthers (20-8, 15-1 HL) during the season.
After its first round bye, Butler will play the highest remaining seed among Cleveland State, Valparaiso (24-7, 10-6 HL) and Green Bay (12-18, 8-8 HL).
With an automatic bye to the semifinals, the Bulldogs will need to win two games in order to secure the Horizon League’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.