The volleyball team was the first squad to represent Butler in the Atlantic 10 Conference when they faced Dayton last Friday.
The Bulldogs (10-6, 0-2) lost three sets to one. Despite the loss, several players thought the match was a great experience.
“I thought we really came out to play,” sophomore Kelly Kyle said. “(Dayton) has one of the best environments. They had a huge crowd. It was definitely fun to play in.”
The Flyers (9-4, 1-0) play in the Frericks Center, the third largest volleyball-only facility in college volleyball, according to Dayton’s website.
“It was really fun,” junior Maggie Harbison said. “It’s a small gym and they have a huge fan base, so it was a blast.”
The atmosphere of the A-10 is a new experience for the team.
“It was a lot different than the Horizon League,” sophomore Belle Obert said. “It was a crazy game with the huge crowd and the whole game experience was a lot more fun and exciting.”
Coach Sharon Clark said she had eagerly been anticipating finally being able to play A-10 competition because it was what was best for the program.
“For me, our biggest thing is, what’s the next step for the program,” Clark said.
The Flyers are the three-time defending A-10 volleyball champions and are coming off a 14-1 campaign last season.
“That makes it exciting for us to know that the bar is being raised and we’re going to work to step up to it and meet that challenge,” Clark said. “Our goal is to go out there and compete at the highest level we can.”
Following the 3-0 loss at Dayton, the Bulldogs continued their A-10 play against Xavier Saturday afternoon. Butler fell three sets to none.
The Musketeers (9-7, 2-0), like Dayton, have ranked in the top three in the A-10 for the last three seasons.
“The competition (in the A-10) is very stiff,” Clark said. “Overall, it’s a much stronger conference for us.”
The new conference brings new competition and new challenges.
“It’s bigger competition,” Harbison said. “I think there’s a lot bigger hitters and height, and it’s a faster pace.”
Harbison said that playing Dayton and Xavier was hard, but it will make the team tougher for future games. The Bulldogs get to play Dayton and Xavier again when they visit Hinkle Fieldhouse in mid-October.
Butler will be playing many new teams, and with that comes travelling to new places.
Clark said this will be one of the biggest differences between the A-10 and the Horizon League.
“The biggest differences for us are the simple things, like traveling into cities we’ve never been in,” Clark said. “We’re also excited about showing people everywhere we go how great Butler is and what we’ve been all this time.”
Agreeing with Clark, Obert said she is looking forward to going through it all with her teammates.
“We’re trying not to just take in the volleyball, but also the whole experience of traveling and being with the team and coaches,” Obert said.