Volleyball: Bulldogs open league play 1-1

Photo by Rachel Senn

The brooms were out Saturday afternoon as the Butler volleyball team swept Youngstown State 3-0 to gain its first Horizon League win of the season.

The win provided those in attendance with plenty to cheer about just one day after the Bulldogs (5-8, 1-1) opened conference play with a loss to Cleveland State.

Butler jumped out to a 4-0 lead against the Penguins (1-12, 0-2) and never looked back. Youngstown State was able to trade points throughout the opening set with the Bulldogs but never got within three points. Butler ended up taking the set 25-19.

In set two, the Penguins provided their toughest challenge to the Bulldogs. Butler would build a 17-11 lead before Youngstown State reeled off four points in a row. Butler then extended its lead back to five at 20-15 and held off the Penguins in the end to take the second set 25-23.

With two sets in hand, the Bulldogs looked to stay strong and secure the sweep. Youngstown State proved to be tough in the third game, jumping out to an 11-10 lead, but the Bulldogs answered with a 7-1 run to take a 17-12 lead.

The Penguins would pull back within two, but Butler ended any hopes of a miracle comeback by winning three of the last four points to take the set 25-21 and complete the sweep.

“We served aggressively and kept them out of their hitting patterns,” freshman outside hitter Kelly Kyle said.  “Overall we just raised our level of play.”

Kyle led the Bulldog attack with 16 kills, and junior setter Gina Vera provided 35 assists for Butler. Freshman Belle Obert also added nine kills, five digs and two blocks to round out the Bulldog attack.

With the win, Butler kept alive its 10-year winning streak against Youngstown State. The Bulldogs are a perfect 22-0 all-time against the Penguins.

“It brings [us] pride that we’ve fought for however many years and always come out victorious,” Vera said.  “It’s great to have a positive turnaround after losing the first match of the weekend.”

Butler opened conference play on Friday night when it hosted Cleveland State. The Bulldogs made things interesting but ultimately fell 3-0, losing 25-19, 26-24 and 25-22.

Cleveland State cruised through the first set without much trouble, but the second and third sets proved to be much more difficult for the Vikings. The second set featured seven ties, with the last tie coming at 24-24 before the Vikings (8-4, 1-0) finally won the set.

In set three, there were 11 ties, with the last one coming at 18-18, but the Bulldogs could never get over the hump to take the lead.

“We made too many errors and made them at pivotal moments in those sets,” Vera said. “We got ourselves in a hole within the first 10 points of the set. Playing catch-up is not going to win us those tight sets.”

Sophomore outside hitter Chelsea Kirkpatrick led the attack for the Bulldogs with nine kills while freshman libero Brooke Ruffolo contributed 13 digs.

The Bulldogs will have a few days off before heading to Milwaukee for another Horizon League showdown Friday.

The Panthers (9-4) have won four of their last six contests and opened their conference campaign with victories over Green Bay and Loyola.

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