Inexperience and a low hitting percentage sent the Butler volleyball team to a 3-0 defeat Monday night against North Dakota State.
Butler coach Sharon Clark said it has been a growing year for the young team that includes six freshmen. She said this inexperience added to the Bulldogs’ 20 attack errors in the match.
“We have erred ourselves out of games this year,” Clark said, “but we’re looking at getting better in each game.”
The Bulldogs (5-10, 1-2) had a slow first two sets and ended the match with a .087 hitting percentage, a far cry from the .288 hitting percentage of the Bison (10-6).
Freshman middle back Stephanie Kranda had a strong first set for Butler. She ended the match with a team-high nine kills.
“[Kranda] is by far the ultimate utility player,” Clark said. “As she gets better playing at this level, she’ll really be a valuable weapon for us.”
The momentum was ultimately not in the Bulldogs’ favor, however, with the Bison taking the first set 25-18.
Butler sophomore middle back Claire Randich started off the second set with a kill, followed by a series of long volleys.
The two teams traded points until back-to-back kills by the Bison put them ahead 9-5.
The kills began a streak of 11 unanswered points by the Bison that ended when the Bulldogs scored on an error.
“Those long rallies are always energizing but also deflating whenever you come out on the short end of it,” Clark said.
Junior setter Gina Vera said the team tried to regroup between the second and third sets and focus on moving around the floor more quickly.
The third set started off tighter with kills by Kranda and senior middle back Maureen Bamiro.
The teams were neck and neck early in the set and tied at 15-15 following a kill by Bamiro.
They continued trading points, but the Bison pulled ahead and won the set 25-19.
The Bulldogs also fell 3-0 Friday against Milwaukee. The Panthers (11-4, 4-0) recorded a hitting percentage of .317, pushing them past the error-prone Bulldogs in three sets (25-23, 25-15, 25-14).
Sophomore outside hitter Maggie Harbison led the Bulldogs with six kills and a .333 hitting percentage. Freshman outside hitter Kelly Kyle had a team-high nine kills and five digs in the loss.
Butler will hit the road this weekend, taking on conference opponents Illinois-Chicago Friday and Valparaiso Saturday.