Nov. 16, 2012
PITTSBURGH, Pa. – It didn’t take long for the two Atlantic 10 newcomers to produce an instant classic in volleyball.
Third-seeded VCU survived an upset bid by sixth-seeded Butler to win 3-2 (20-25, 27-25, 25-22, 17-25, 16-14) in the opening quarterfinal of the 2012 Atlantic 10 Volleyball Championship at Duquesne University’s A.J. Palumbo Center.
The Rams advance to the semifinals to face No. 2 Xavier at 6:00 pm Saturday. Butler finishes its season at 17-12. The loss snapped a five-match winning streak for the Bulldogs, who used that streak to qualify for the six-team championship on the final day of the regular season.
A-10 Rookie of the Year Martina Samadan had 13 kills and eight blocks, to lead the Rams, but it was Kristen Boyd who sealed the win for VCU. Boyd, who was struggling offensively with 10 attack errors to 12 kills redeemed herself in set five. The decisive game was knotted at 14 with Butler serving when Boyd connected on a set from Cecilia Aragao for a kill to break the Butler serve and give the Rams a 15-14 advantage. Boyd again connected on an Aragao assist for a match-winning kill just in front of the up referee.
Butler won sets one and four, with set four being the only game decided by more than five points. Rachel Barber tallied six kills and hit .500 in the first set en route to her match-high 17 kills. In all the Bulldogs had five players tally double-digit kills, including double-doubles from Maggie Harbison (14 kills, 10 digs) and Belle Obert (10 kills, 15 digs).
VCU won a closely contested set two, 27-25 that was key to the Rams victory. Samadan and Romana Kriskova teamed up to block to Barber attack attempts at the end of the set to break a 25-all tie and give VCU the win. The Rams also won a tight set three.
The Rams had four players with double-figure kills and four players with double-digit digs, led by Amanda Love’s 26. Kriskova had a team-high 15 kills, joining Samadan (13 kills), Boyd (14 kills) and Jasmine Walters who finished with 11 kills and led all players with a .292 hitting percentage.
This marked the first A-10 volleyball championship for VCU and Butler. Both institutions joined the conference last July.