Oct. 4, 2004
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The Horizon League volleyball season continues with six conference matches this week, including a pair of regional rivalry games.
Highlighting the week's action is a battle of the two remaining undefeated teams in League play when Butler hosts UW-Milwaukee on Saturday, Oct. 9. However, both teams must first get by their Friday foes as Butler welcomes UW-Green Bay and UW-Milwaukee plays at Wright State.
Also on Friday, Oct. 8, Youngstown State plays host to Northeast Ohio rival Cleveland State, while Loyola hosts UIC in a crosstown Chicago matchup.
The Horizon League standings underwent a change at the top last week when UW-Milwaukee defeated Loyola in four games to move into the first-place tie with Butler. The loss was only the Ramblers' second in their last 13 games.
Panthers Turn It Around in League Play
In the preconference schedule, UW-Milwaukee stumbled to a 4-6 start, which was more losses than last year's entire Horizon League championship season (25-5) . But the Panthers have rebounded to win all three of their conference matches, surrendering only two games in the process. Only three of their 11 League games have been decided by fewer than five points.
Butler's Road Warriors Atop Standings
As the preseason conference favorite, Butler's spot atop the current standings may seen natural. But the Bulldogs have done it the hard way thus far as all three of their wins have been on the road and two have been in five games. For the season, they are 5-2 on the road and only 2-3 on their home court at Hinkle Fieldhouse.
Prior to losing to UW-Milwaukee, Loyola had won 10 of its last 11 matches after opening the season with an 0-3 mark. Highlighting the stretch was a thrilling five-game upset of then-#9 Illinois (30-25, 30-24, 26-30, 28-30, 15-13) Sept. 14. The Ramblers also captured preconference tournament titles at their own LaSalle Bank Chicago Challenge and the Jesuit Joust in Milwaukee.
Butler Picked to Win League Crown
The Butler volleyball team has been picked to win its first Horizon League championship since 1997 in preseason voting by the conference's eight head coaches. The Bulldogs received 45 points and four first-place votes to edge defending regular-season champion UW-Milwaukee by one point for the top spot. The Panthers garnered three of the remaining four first-place votes and 44 total points. Coaches were not permitted to vote for their own teams.
Six All-League Honorees Back for '04
Six of the 12 members of the 2003 All-Horizon League Volleyball Team return this season. Back for more in 2004 are Areal Bienemy and Kali Carter of Butler, Jamie Bouyer of Cleveland State, Karen Fruit of UW-Milwaukee, Lauren Holbrook of Loyola and Leslie Kuhn of UW-Green Bay. All are seniors.
Holbrook Doing It All for Loyola
Loyola senior setter Lauren Holbrook continues to do it all for the Ramblers this season. She leads the conference with 12.76 assists per game while also averaging 3.27 digs and 1.58 kills per game. She came within one kill of a triple-double earlier this season versus South Dakota State with nine kills, 58 assists and 14 digs, and has been within three kills six other times. In addition, she was named the most valuable player as Loyola won each of its preconference tournaments.
Bulldogs Duo Double Trouble
Butler seniors Kali Carter and Areal Bienemy form arguably the Horizon League's top one-two punch this fall. The returning all-conference picks are second and fourth, respectively, in the conference with 4.98 and 3.90 kills per game through the season's first month. In fact, they have combined for 64 percent of the Bulldogs' kills, with Carter having 309 and Bienemy 242, compared to only 313 for the rest of the team. Against Western Illinois Sept. 10, Carter recorded the first 30-30 game in Butler history with 32 kills and 30 digs.
Panthers' Fruit Juiced Again in 2004
After leading the Horizon League in kills per game last season, UW-Milwaukee senior Karen Fruit has picked up where she left off to begin the 2004 campaign as she again tops the conference with 5.14 kills per game, including 6.27 in conference matches. Fruit has posted double digits in kills in 28 of UWM's last 30 matches dating to last season.
Bouyer Dangerous on Both Sides of Net
Senior Jamie Bouyer has played a major role in Cleveland State's recent 7-2 stretch after starting the season 1-2. In that span, she has had at least nine kills and six blocks in every match. Bouyer currently leads the Horizon League in both hitting percentage (.403) - more than 100 points better than the next-best mark - and blocks (1.62 bpg) and ranks sixth in kills per game (3.49 kpg).
Frosh Playing Key Roles for Green Bay
After losing four starters from last year's Horizon League Tournament championship team, UW-Green Bay needed some new faces to step up and that's happened. Setter Leslie Kuhn has moved to outside hitter, Jackie Rosen has joined the lineup from the libero spot, and freshmen Betty Slinger, last year's Ms. Volleyball in Minnesota, and Desi Dolgner have been key newcomers.
Future's Bright for Youngstown State
Looking to put last year's last-place Horizon League finish (10-19, 1-13) behind them, the Youngstown State Penguins already are on the verge of surpassing last year's win total with a 7-9 record so far this season. Freshman Jessica Fraley is the top freshman in the conference in kills per game (3.18, eighth).
Wright State Has Eye on the Future
Wright State has opened the season with a 3-12 record but that may not be entirely unexpected considering the Raiders' youthful roster. Of the 13 players on the team, six are sophomores and three are freshmen, which should provide hope for the rest of the year. Sophomores Sarah Poling and Taylor Gerlach lead the team in kills (3.31) and digs (4.41), respectively. Their first Horizon League win was their 18th straight over Youngs-town State since losing the first match in the series in 1977.
Panthers Pick Up Where They Left Off
UW-Milwaukee's three wins to open the Horizon League schedule have continued a run of success for the Panthers that goes back to the mid-1990s. Including that victory, UWM is 83-10 in regular-season conference matches during the past eight seasons. They have finished no worse than 11-3 in League action in that stretch and have suffered only one conference loss four times. The Panthers have an overall record of 171-53 in the last eight years.
Crain Breaks CSU Assists Mark
Cleveland State senior Kelly Crain broke the school's career assists mark with her 4,078th against Butler Oct. 1, surpassing Erinn Kingman (1997-2000). Crain now has 4,149 helpers for her career.