The Butler volleyball team gathers before a game last season. The Bulldogs will kick off their home schedule at the Bulldog Brawl on Sept. 20. Collegian file photo.
SYDNEY DIGRAZIA | STAFF REPORTER | firstname.lastname@example.org
Newly renovated Hinkle Fieldhouse is getting its first action this season: hosting Butler volleyball’s Bulldog Brawl Sept. 20-21.
On Sept. 20, the Bulldogs will take on University of the Pacific at 6 p.m. On Sept. 21, they will compete against Belmont University at 12 p.m. and Loyola Marymount University at 6 p.m.
“The Bulldog Brawl is a great opportunity to see the team in action for the first time and to finally be in Hinkle with air conditioning,” assistant coach Sofia Sanchez said.
This is the last tournament for the Bulldogs before Big East play begins. Conference action will begin later that week on Wednesday against one of the Bulldogs’ top competitors, the Marquette Golden Eagles.
“I think ending the preseason well and bringing a lot of energy into our Big East play is really important,” sophomore libero Elizabeth LaBue said.
The team has been on the road for the last three weeks and with a starting record of 2-7, this home tournament is vital to gaining momentum for the Big East season. Early season struggles have brought about new team goals.
“I think one thing that we really focused on is playing together as a team,” freshman outside hitter Megan Sheridan said. “This is such a team sport and everyone has a really important role on the team. Everyone contributing what they can contribute allows us to be our best together.”
The team’s recent opponents have opened the Bulldog’s eyes to their flaws. In their loss against Auburn on Aug. 31, Butler had 32 attack errors and 15 service errors, totaling 47 “free” points for the opponent. The Bulldogs have struggled early with playing down to other teams’ levels.
“We need to stay true to ourselves and do what we do best,” Sanchez said. “I think moving forward it’s about the next point, the next game, the next match, really living in that moment and playing Butler volleyball regardless of who is across the net.”
Hinkle Fieldhouse got a transformation this offseason, too. The 90-year-old facility got air conditioning, a new set of lights and banners, as well as padding on all 300 level bleachers.
“We are very excited to return to Hinkle, especially now that we have air conditioning,” LaBue said. “Last year, during the first half of our season, we would have to stop between every play during matches and practice to wipe the floor because the court would become dangerously sweaty.”
The Bulldogs are more than ready to return home and begin their homestand with a little help from the Hinkle magic.
“There’s nothing like Hinkle,” Sanchez said. “It can totally shift games and I think that’s the case for every sport that plays in there, including men’s and women’s basketball, you see what Hinkle magic can do and when we have those fans, especially our students, screaming at the opponents, people are afraid to come play in Hinkle.”