The Butler volleyball team went into the final match of the Butler Invitational with an unblemished 2-0 record before falling to Central Michigan.
On Saturday evening, the Bulldogs (4-7) dropped the potential tournament-winning match to the Chippewas (4-4) in three sets (19-25, 21-25, 21-25).
During the first set, the Bulldogs and Chippewas remained neck and neck until Central Michigan pulled away with five unanswered points to make it 18-14. The Chippewas won the set 25-19.
The second set of the match was similar to the first, with both teams battling for an advantage.
With the Chippewas leading 23-18, Butler scored three consecutive points to narrow the gap to two. After a Central Michigan timeout, the Chippewas scored two final points to clinch the set.
The final set of the match followed suit with Butler and Central Michigan battling to a 20-20 tie. The Chippewas would go on to score five points to Butler’s one, securing the set and the match.
“I have to give Central Michigan credit,” Butler head coach Sharon Clark said. “They played a phenomenal game. We didn’t match it.”
Freshman outside hitter Kelly Kyle had seven digs, six kills and three blocks for the Bulldogs.
One day prior, Butler defeated the Austin Peay Governors in three sets (27-25, 25-17, 26-24).
Senior middle back Maureen Bamiro had 18 kills and a .382 hitting average in the win.
“We made the point—this is our home court,” Bamiro said.
The Governors (1-7) and Bulldogs battled back and forth during the first set, reaching a 25-25 draw.
A spike by Kyle and a pair of blocks by sophomore outside hitter Maggie Harbison and freshman middle back Stephanie Kranda gave Butler a first set win.
Butler cruised through the second set, securing a 25-17 set win.
“We had great passing,” Kyle said. “Our middles put a lot of balls down.”
Austin Peay didn’t go down without a fight and led throughout the entire third set.
With the Governors leading 22-19, the Bulldogs sparked a 5-2 run to narrow the deficit 23-22.
After Butler gained possession, Harbison used strong serving to clinch the 26-24 win.
“Even though we were behind, we thought we could win,” Kyle said. “We believed in ourselves even though we were down,”
Junior setter Gina Vera had 45 assists in the victory.
Butler began the invitational Friday morning with a four-set win over Elon (25-12, 24-26, 25-22, 25-23) in front of a crowd of more than 1,100.
After losing the first set, Elon fought back to a 20-20 second set tie.
The Bulldogs and Phoenix continued to go back and forth, resulting in a 24-24 tie. Elon won the set with consecutive spikes to even the match score at 1-1.
The next two sets were tightly contested, with Butler winning narrowly both times.
“I’m really proud of my team being able to come through,” Clark said.
At the conclusion of the tournament, Butler, Central Michigan and Elon had amassed two wins and one loss, meaning there was no true tournament winner.
Freshman libero Brooke Ruffolo had 33 digs in the win. Ruffolo, who finished with 60 total digs in the tournament, and Kyle were both named to the all-tournament team.
Ruffolo was also named Horizon League Defensive Player of the Week. It was her first career award.
Following a 4-7 showing in non-conference action, the Bulldogs will kick off conference play this weekend by hosting a pair of games against Cleveland State on Friday and Youngstown State on Saturday.