Volleyball Gives Xavier Its First Victory In BIG EAST

Abbey Bessler registered a match-high 20 kills against Butler.

Abbey Bessler registered a match-high 20 kills against Butler.

Sept. 27, 2013

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INDIANAPOLIS - In the opening match of the BIG EAST Conference schedule, Xavier volleyball defeated Butler in four sets (25-23, 21-25, 25-20, 26-24) to give the school its first victory in any sport in the new conference. The win improves Xavier's record to 8-6, including 1-0 in the BIG EAST.

"I am so very proud to be the coach of this team," said head coach Mike Johnson. "After coming off a rough stretch like we had, I asked this group to continue to push and continue to invest towards a better day ahead. Today was that day. To get the first win for this great school in this great new league is a special thing. And credit to Butler for making this a tough win to come by. I'm looking forward to great days ahead. But, for at least a little bit, we are going to enjoy this one."

The Musketeers used sensational performances from freshman Abbey Bessler, seniors Alex Smith and Sarah Brown, junior Aubree Smith and sophomores Makayla Agin and Lauren Metzger to down the Bulldogs.

Agin scored the opening point of the first set and the Musketeers never trailed on their way to a 25-23 victory. In fact, the Musketeers led by as many as six points, 22-16, before the Bulldogs put together four-straight points to cut into the margin. But Xavier wouldn't be denied as Alex Smith closed the set with a kill.

After Xavier jumped out to an early four-point advantage in the second frame, Butler came roaring back with another four-point run. Neither team led by more than two, until Butler seized control with a 4-1 spurt to push ahead, 23-20. BU closed the set, 25-21.

Sarah Brown's kill midway through the third set put XU ahead, 18-14. As in the previous two sets, BU put together a small run to even the set at 20 and force a Xavier timeout. The Musketeers responded by collecting the final five points to win, 25-20, and take a 2-1 lead in the match.

The fourth set opened with a barrage by Xavier. XU won 10 of 11 points in the early moments, which included seven-straight points, to grab an 11-3 lead. The Musketeers then withstood a furious comeback by Butler before closing out the set, 26-24. BU cut the lead to one on three different occasions before tying the score at 22 and then again at 24, but consecutive miscues gave Xavier the victory.

Led by Bessler's 20 kills, XU combined for 59 as a team. The rookie outside hitter added 12 digs and boasted a .415 hitting percent against one of the top defenses in the country. BU entered the match ranked eighth in the nation in blocks.

Aubree Smith helped keep the Bulldogs defense off-balance all night, handing out 47 assists in the match. She also picked up 12 digs. Agin finished with 13 kills and a .345 hitting percentage.

Alex Smith was the third and final Musketeer to reach double-digit kills, tallying 11 on the evening thanks to .421 hitting percentage.

On the defensive side, Brown and Metzger were sensational. Metzger picked up a team-best 18 digs, while Brown registered 16.

The loss was just the third suffered by Butler this season, as the Bulldogs fall to 12-3 overall and 0-1 in the conference.

Xavier begins its home portion of the BIG EAST schedule with three matches this coming weekend. Seton Hall comes to Cintas Center on Friday, Oct. 3 for the first-ever BIG EAST volleyball match for the Musketeers. Then, Xavier will face nationally-ranked Creighton on Saturday and St. John's on Sunday.