The Drake volleyball team (1-14, 0-5 MVC) will try for its first home and conference match win this Friday when the Bradley Braves (6-10, 0-5 MVC) visit the Knapp Center, with the UNI Panthers (13-5, 5-0 MVC) following on Saturday night. Both matches will start at 7 p.m. Live stats and video streaming for both matches will be available at www.godrakebulldogs.com.
Bradley is also winless in MVC action this season and is currently on a seven match losing streak. The Braves have four players with 100 kills or more led by junior Alise Tupuritis with 183 kills and a team-best 2.95 kills per set average. Bradley and Drake split the two matches in 2011 with each team winning their respective home stand. Drake leads the all-time series 28-25 and has won nine out of the last ten matches.
Going into their Friday night match at Creighton, UNI is riding a 59-straight MVC regular season match winning streak. The Panthers have not lost a regular season conference match since the 2008 season and they have finished undefeated in conference play (18-0) the last three seasons (2009-11). Four players, led by Megan Lehman (206), have 100 or more kills for the Panthers. Northern Iowa leads the all-time series 10-66-1.
Drake dropped a pair of close road matches this past weekend. The Bulldogs took the opening set against Evansville, 25-20 but the Aces won the next three sets. The next afternoon against Southern Illinois, the Bulldogs fell behind after the first set but rallied to take the second. The Bulldogs struggled in the third set but came back to hold a late lead. The Salukis responded and took the third set, then cruised to a win in the fourth for the match.
Three Bulldogs, led by senior outside hitter Bentley Mancini (Burnsville, Minn.), have over 100 kills for the season. Mancini has 130 kills, Cassie Effken (Lincoln, Neb.) has 105 and Jadranka Tramosljanin (Ruma, Serbia) has 102. Amanda Platte (Mount Vernon, Iowa) is nearing the century mark as she sits at 92 for the year. Mancini's 15 kills against Southern Illinois this past weekend are a season-high for the senior and the most by a Bulldog this fall.
Sarah Madden (Van Meter, Iowa) and Tramosljanin have provided a strong defensive presence in the back row this year for the Bulldogs. Madden has 252 digs and is averaging 4.85 per set which is fourth in the conference. Tramosljanin has 183 digs and is averaging 3.52 per set. Madden has started every match in the libero position for the Bulldogs and was named to the all-tournament team at the New Mexico State tournament. Defensive specialist Scarlett Howerter (Lincoln, Neb.) has appeared in every match for the Bulldogs to steadily improve in her first year.
Freshmen Katie Dulek (Lenexa, Kan.) and Effken have started every match at the middle blocker positions in their first seasons for the Blue and White. Effken leads the Bulldogs in total blocks (61), block assists (48) and block solos (13), and is second in kills (105) and points (104). She was named to the all-tournament team at the Bulldogs first tournament of 2012 (Green Bay). Effken is sixth in the MVC with a 1.17 blocks per set average. Dulek is second on the team in block assists (37) and fifth in kills (61), and she earned all-tournament honors at the InnTowner Invitational. She had a career-high eight kills with just one error against Creighton and received player of the week considerations from the Valley for her efforts.
The Bulldogs are one of the top serving teams in the Missouri Valley Conference as they average 1.27 service aces per set. Tramosljanin has 17 aces and a 0.33 service aces per set average, which is second in the MVC. Madden has 15 aces and a 0.29 service aces per set average, which is sixth in the MVC.
Sophomore setter Halli Meyer (Bettendorf, Iowa) dished out 55 assists in the two matches this past weekend. Her 29 assists against Evansville are a new-career high. Meyer has 260 assists and a 5.0 assists per set average for the year. Freshman Rebecca Brown (Bentonville, Ark.) has also seen action at the setter position for the Bulldogs and has dished out 203 assists in her first season. Drake has 513 assists as a team.
Senior outside hitter Bentley Mancini leads the Bulldogs with 130 kills, a 2.50 kills per set average and 145 points. Mancini, a left-handed hitter has started every match for the Blue and White this year. The Minnesota native is a senior captain and has 420 kills in her collegiate career.
A pair of sophomores and one freshman have handled the outside hitter position opposite Mancini this fall. Platte had an outstanding performance in the win over UNO. The outside hitter finished with a career-high 12 kills, eight digs and added four block assists. Platte and fellow sophomore Erin Roggenburg (Ankeny, Iowa) have each started at the outside hitter position opposite Bentley Mancini. Shelby Daum (Battle Creek, Neb.) has recovered from an injury early in the season and has earned more playing time in her first year. Daum, a left-hander, came off the bench in the SIU match and had four kills in nine attempts with no errors.
ALL HANDS ON DECK
Eleven of the 12 student-athletes on this season's roster have seen match action. Drake has one of the youngest rosters in the nation with two seniors, one redshirt junior, three sophomores and six freshmen.
HITTING THE ROAD
Drake will travel to Indiana State next Friday, Oct. 13 and to Illinois State Saturday, Oct. 14. The Indiana State match will start at 6 p.m. central time and the Illinois State match will have a 7 p.m. first serve. Live stats at www.godrakebulldogs.com will be available for both matches.
2012 LEADERSHIP COUNCIL
This season the Bulldogs will have a leadership council with Bentley Mancini as the designated senior class member, Sarah Madden as the junior class member, Halli Meyer as the sophomore class member and Cassie Effken representing the freshman class.
Drake head coach Tony Sunga is in his second season leading the program. Sunga is a 1988 Drake graduate, who previously served as a Drake assistant under former coach Amy Faber Knowles from 2005-07. Sunga was hired from Wyoming, where he was an assistant coach for three seasons.
Sunga is assisted by Erin Hirsch and Rob Batzler. Hirsch is in her sixth season as an assistant coach and played at the University of Northern Iowa. Batzler is in his first season as an assistant coach after serving as a volunteer coach in 2011.
DRAKE PICKED TENTH
Drake was picked to finish tenth in the 2012 Missouri Valley Conference preseason poll conducted by league coaches. Northern Iowa captured all 10 first-place votes to top the voting with 100 points. The Bulldogs finished eighth in 2011.