Oct. 11, 2004
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The 2004 Horizon League volleyball schedule hits its midway point this week as all eight teams play a pair of conference matches.
Butler enters the week's action in sole possession of first place following a five-game win over co-leader UW-Milwaukee this past weekend. The Bulldogs own the longest current winning streak in the conference, having won their last four to improve to 10-7 overall and 5-0 in the Horizon League.
With the loss, the defending regular-season champion Panthers (8-7, 4-1) fell into a tie for second place with Loyola (13-5, 4-1). The Ramblers have won 13 of their last 15 matches after opening the season 0-3.
Cleveland State (9-4, 3-2) owns a one-game lead over reigning tournament champion UW-Green Bay (5-12, 2-3) for fourth place.
Highlighting this week's schedule are a pair of matches that will have a major impact on the League standings. On Friday, Oct. 15, UW-Milwaukee will play at Cleveland State, and on Saturday, Oct. 16, Loyola will host Butler.
Bulldogs Step It Up in League Play
Butler, the preseason Horizon League favorite, concluded its pre-conference schedule with a modest 5-6 record. But the Bulldogs have turned it around in conference play, sprinting to first place with a 5-0 record and a 10-7 overall mark. Leading the way all season has been the senior tandem of Kali Carter and Areal Bienemy, who rank second and fourth in the League with 4.82 and 4.01 kills per game, respectively.
In fact, the two have combined for 63 percent of the Bulldogs' kills, with Carter having 342 and Bienemy 285, compared to only 378 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.
Holbrook Doing It All for Loyola
Based on research by the Georgia State sports information office, Loyola senior setter Lauren Holbrook is one of four current Division I players on track to become the first players in the 30-point scoring era to surpass 5,000 assists and 1,000 digs in a career. Holbrook, who currently has 4,769 assists and 1,132 digs, is joined in the select group by Ashlie Hain of UC Irvine, April DeCoste of Georgia State and Casie Garland of Morehead. She leads the conference with 12.73 assists per game while also averaging 3.23 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 seven other times.
After opening the season 0-3, Loyola has stormed back to win 13 of its last 15 matches. 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. Behind the ball control of senior setter Lauren Holbrook, the Ramblers boast perhaps the best balance in the Horizon League as five players average two or more kills per game. Leading the charge is senior outside hitter Nichol Amberg with 4.12 kills per game. She is joined by Hilary Stromath (2.95 kpg), Kathryn Langheld (2.69), Courtney Ashley (2.56) and Kelly Zins (2.15).
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 as she again tops the conference with 5.19 kills per game, including 5.90 in conference matches. Against Wright State Oct. 8, she recorded her second 30-kill performance of the season with 31 kills and 18 digs. The 31 kills were the second-most in the Panthers' Division I history. In back-to-back matches two weeks ago, she pounded home 48 kills while hitting .432 (48-6-97). Fruit has now posted double digits in kills in 30 of UWM's last 32 matches dating to last season.
Bouyer Dangerous on Both Sides of Net
Senior Jamie Bouyer has been the Horizon League's most dominant two-day player so far this season as she leads the conference in both hitting percentage (.413) and blocks (1.62 bpg). Her hitting percentage is more than 100 points better than the next best mark and her blocking average is one-half block per game higher than second place. Bouyer enters this week's action needing just 37 kills to break the school record of 1,416 set by Tenille Whiteside from 1993-96.
Panthers Pick Up Where They Left Off
UW-Milwaukee's 4-1 record 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 84-11 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 172-54 in the last eight years.
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.
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. Returning all-conference setter Leslie Kuhn has split time at outside hitter, and Jackie Rosen has joined the lineup from the libero spot. Meanwhile 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 an 8-10 record so far this season. The Penguins boasts perhaps the League's top freshman duo in Jessica Fraley (3.22 kpg, .233) and Sarah Wellner (2.43 kpg, .238).
Wright State Has Eye on the Future
Wright State has opened the season with a 3-14 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 Melanie Poling and Taylor Gerlach lead the team in kills (3.29) and digs (4.32), respectively.
Horizon League Player of the Week - Oct. 11
Areal Bienemy of Butler has been selected the Horizon League Volleyball Player of the Week for Oct. 11.
She averaged 4.78 kills and 1.0 dig per game to lead the Bulldogs (10-7, 5-0) to a pair of League wins that moved them into sole possession of first place.
In a showdown with co-leader UW-Milwaukee Oct. 9, Bienemy slammed 22 kills and made eight blocks as Butler, the preseason favorite, won in five games. The win ended the Panthers' 16-match Horizon League road winning streak. Against UW-Green Bay one day earlier, she had 21 kills on .410 hitting (21-5-39) to lead the Bull-dogs to a 3-1 homecourt victory.
Bienemy currently ranks fourth in the League with 4.01 kills per game and fifth with 1.10 blocks.
Other Top Horizon League Performers - Oct. 4
Cleveland State, Senior, Middle Hitter, Bedford Heights, Ohio
In Cleveland State's only match of the week, Bouyer turned in another dominating performance with a match-high 20 kills, a .500 hitting percentage (20-3-34) and five blocks in a three-game sweep of Youngstown State. She had eight kills in the first game and seven more in the second.
Youngstown State, Freshman, Opposite, LaGrange, Ohio
Fraley averaged 3.67 kills, 2.67 digs and 1.33 assists per game to lead Youngstown State to a 1-1 record, including 1-0 in the Horizon League. She had 13 kills and eight blocks in a three-game loss to Cleveland State. Earlier in the week, Fraley posted nine kills and eight blocks in a non-conference sweep of St. Francis (Pa.).
Wright State, Junior, Middle Hitter, Muncie, Ind.
Griffith averaged 2.22 kills and 1.22 digs as Wright State lost a pair of home matches to UW-Milwaukee (3-1) and UW-Green Bay (3-2). Against UWGB, she finished with 13 kills, five digs and three blocks after posting seven kills and six digs versus UW-Milwaukee.
Loyola, Senior, Outside Hitter, Tulsa, Okla.
Amberg collected 31 kills (4.43 kpg) and 31 digs for Loyola, which went 2-0 during the week. Against Bradley, she recorded her third 20-20 match of the season with 21 kills and 24 digs in a 3-1 win. Amberg then had 10 kills, seven digs and three aces as the Ramblers swept crosstown rival UIC.
UW-Milwaukee, Senior, Outside Hitter, Viola, Wis.
In two Horizon League matches, Fruit averaged 5.44 kills and 4.0 digs per game. She set a career high with 31 kills in a 3-1 victory at Wright State, then came back with 18 more in a five-game loss at Butler that was a battle for first place. Fruit had 18 digs in each match.
UW-Green Bay, Senior, Setter, Juneau, Wis.
Kuhn averaged 11.50 assists hit .351 (15-2-37) from her setter spot as UW-Green Bay went 1-2 during the week. She guided the Phoenix to their first road win of the season in a five-game win at Wright State, dishing out 47 assists to go with eight kills and four blocks.
2004 Horizon League Players of the Week
Sept. 6 - Karen Fruit, UW-Milwaukee
Sept. 13 - Lauren Holbrook, Loyola
Sept. 20 - Jamie Bouyer, Cleveland State
Sept. 27 - Hilary Stromath, Loyola
Oct. 4 - Karen Fruit, UW-Milwaukee
Oct. 11 - Areal Bienemy, Butler