AUSTIN MILLER | STAFF REPORTER
After a great opening match of the weekend, the Butler volleyball team was unable to finish the way it started Saturday, falling twice in the final day of play at the Bluegrass Battle hosted by the University of Kentucky.
A 3-1 win on Friday over Virginia Tech was followed up with a pair of tough losses on Saturday, one coming to the host Wildcats 3-0 and the second coming in the nightcap to Wichita State University, 3-2.
In Friday’s win, freshman Makayla Ferguson came up huge for the Bulldogs, tallying 37 assists and 10 digs, setting the table for three players to reach double-figure kills on the night, including a team-high 12 for Belle Obert.
The Bulldogs won three consecutive sets to seal the victory after Virginia Tech won the first of the match and jumped out to a 6-0 lead in the second.
Butler faced No. 19 Kentucky in the second match. The Wildcats wore down Butler over the course of the match, sweeping their way to a 3-0 victory.
Senior Jadyn Yarling stepped up with a match-high 18 kills for the Bulldogs, while Ferguson added 28 more assists from the setter position. Obert led the team with 11 kills, while no other players reached double-figures in that category.
The final match of the tournament turned out to be the most eventful as the Bulldogs took the floor against Wichita State, another team coming off an NCAA tournament appearance last season.
Butler got off to a strong start, taking the opening two sets both at a 25-20 tally. The break did not do them any justice, however, as the Shockers would come back to tie the match at 2-2 with 25-21 and 25-20 respectively.
In the fifth and deciding set, a service error at 14-12 kept Butler from ending the match and left the door open for a Wichita State comeback. The Shockers would eventually tie the match at 14-14 and again at 15-all. Two consecutive kills would prove to be the nail in the coffin, as Butler fell 15-17 in the fifth set.
Junior Mary Striedl continued a strong weekend performance with 25 digs and 12 kills for the Bulldogs. Belle Obert added a team-high 22 kills and Jadyn Yarling had 18 more digs in the nightcap.
Butler will return to the court next weekend when they travel to Mount Pleasant, Michigan to compete in the Chippewa Invitational hosted by Central Michigan University.