Butler Defeats Virginia Tech 3-1 in Season Opener
August 30, 2014HOOSIER SPORTS 365
LEXINGTON, Ky. – The Butler volleyball team is off to a 1-0 start to the 2014 season after a 3-1 victory over Virginia Tech in game one of the Bluegrass Battle (20-25, 25-20, 25-19, 25-17). Freshman Makayla Ferguson led the charge with a double-double performance in her first collegiate match with 37 assists and 10 digs.
Butler placed three new faces into the starting lineup on Friday afternoon with Aki Aitsebaomo, Kayla Bivins, and Ferguson jumping into the action. Belle Obert, Erica Stahl, Mary Striedl and Brooke Ruffolo made up the returning core for Head Coach Sharon Clark.
"We got off to a slow start with some first match jitters, but it smoothed out well," Clark explained. "The key tonight was our serving, it worked wonders."
The Bulldogs recorded 10 service aces compared to just three for the Hokies. Stahl led the team with five service aces while also chipping in with nine kills and four blocks. Obert matched Stahl with four blocks. She put together a great all-around match, leading the team with 12 kills while adding two assists, two service aces and seven digs.
The setter position was a question mark for Butler with Morgan Peterson gone to graduation, but Ferguson put those worries to rest with her 37 assist, 10 dig night. The freshman also came up with two kills, one service ace and two blocks.
"We had a lot of great individual efforts tonight," Clark stated. "Belle was phenomenal in game two with back-to-back solo blocks, we got great contributions from Kayla Bivins and our freshman setter was great by distributing the ball to a very balanced attack."
Bivins was the third Bulldog to reach a double figure kill total as she dominated the net with 10 kills while hitting at a .600 clip. Butler hit .266 as a team and also combined for 10 team blocks.
A deep rotation had 12 student-athletes see the court on Friday night. Jadyn Yarling, Christina Saenger, Stephanie Kranda, Natalie Meert and Whitney Beck also contributed for the opening day victory. "Jaydn stepped into the libero role and was the experienced senior that we needed her to be." Clark added.
Butler got out to a quick 3-0 start in the opening set, but five-straight points from the Hokies would give Virginia Tech the momentum moving forward. Two clutch kills from Kennedy Bryan would give the Hokies some wiggle room down the stretch and Virginia Tech would go on to take set one 25-20 after a kill from Ashley Battle.
Set two got off to a rocky start as Virginia Tech opened up a quick 6-0 lead. Stahl would eventually put Butler on the scoreboard and the Bulldogs would climb back into the set with a run of their own, cutting the gap to 6-5.
A second Virginia Tech rally would give the Hokies a 10-5 lead, but the Bulldogs came back to tie the score at 14-14. BU would take their first lead at 17-16 off a Stahl service ace and Clark received some timely kills from Bivins, Kranda and Stahl to even the match at 1-1.
Butler never trailed in the third set as they opened up a quick 3-0 lead that turned into a 17-10 edge. The Bulldogs held a five-point lead for the remainder of the set as Striedl finished off the Hokies with a kill off the Ferguson assist to put the pressure on VT.
The fourth and final set featured back and forth action, but the Bulldogs were able to grab a favorable lead thanks to a 6-1 scoring run that moved the scoreboard to 11-6. Butler took total control from that point forward as they cruised to a 25-17 victory that sealed the win.
The 2014 Bluegrass Battle will heat up tomorrow with Butler taking on nationally-ranked Kentucky at 10 a.m. followed by a 6 p.m. match vs. Wichita State that evening.