By: Robert Jamieson
In its inaugural Big East match, the Xavier women’s volleyball team defeated Butler in four tight sets (25-23, 21-25, 25-20, 26-24).
This was not only Xavier volleyball’s first Big East win, but it was also the first victory for any sport in the new conference.
Head coach Mike Johnson was not shy about expressing his excitement about getting off on the right foot in conference play.
“To get the first win for this great school in this great new league is a special thing. I’m looking forward to great days ahead. But, for at least a little bit, we are going to enjoy this one,” Johnson said.
What made this win even more impressive was the team’s ability to bounce back after being swept in California last weekend.
“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,” Johnson said.
As usual, Xavier used its depth and outstanding games from freshman phenom outside hitter Abbey Besseler and senior middle blocker Alex Smith to push past Butler.
Upon splitting the first two sets, the pivotal third set was extremely close as well.
After Butler went on a four-point run to tie the set at 20, Johnson called a timeout and the Musketeers responded with five straight points to take the set 25-20, showing the kind of post-timeout play fans would love to see out of another team that calls Cintas Center home.
Xavier seemed to have the match in hand after jumping out to an 11-3 lead in the fourth set, but Butler would not go down without a fight.
Butler fought all the way back to tie the set at 22 and then again at 24, but it was Xavier that proved to be the more solid team, winning the set 26-24.
Smith sisters Alex and Aubree continued to lead the way for the Musketeers, finishing with 11 and 13 kills respectively.
Besseler was the star this week, however, earning Big East Rookie of the Week honors.
Besseler dominated the Bulldogs with a team-high 20 kills and also added 12 digs for good measure.
Xavier volleyball’s Big East home opening weekend will happen over fall break.
Seton Hall will start things off Friday and will be followed by Creighton Saturday and St. John’s Sunday, all at Cintas.
If you remember our preview of Xavier’s season, Saturday might prove to be one of the biggest matches of the season.
Creighton comes in nationally ranked, so the Musketeers will need some support this weekend.