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Drake will face Northwestern in the first match of the tournament Friday night
Courtesy: Drake Athletics

Bulldogs Travel To New Mexico For La Quinta Invitational

Courtesy: Drake Athletics
Release: August 29, 2012
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Fri., Aug. 31    Northwestern        5:00 p.m.
Sat., Sept. 1    New Mexico St.   1:30 p.m.
Sat., Sept. 1    Cincinnati            5:30 p.m.


The Drake volleyball team will travel to its second tournament of the season this weekend as they head southwest to Las Cruces, N.M. for the La Quinta Invitational hosted by New Mexico State. The Blue and White will face Northwestern at 5 p.m. Friday night and will close out the invitational with two matches on Saturday, the first against the host Aggies and the second against the Cincinnati Bearcats. Those matches are at 1:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. All three matches will have live stats available here.


The Wildcats hold a 4-1 advantage in the all-time series against the Bulldogs. Northwestern is coached by Keylor Chan, who in his 14th season as head coach and has four starters plus the libero returning from 2011.

New Mexico State

Drake and New Mexico State will meet for just the second time ever on Saturday. The Aggies took the only match, 3-0 at the Green Bay tournament in 2002. The Aggies are coached by Mike Jordan, who is in his 15th season. New Mexico State was picked first in the WAC preseason coaches poll and has two starters returning from 2011.


Drake holds a 2-1 advantage in the all-time series against the Cincinnati Bearcats. The Bearcats advanced to the 2011 NCAA tournament after they won the Big East tournament. Cincy is led by first-year head coach Molly Alvery and the Bearcats have six seniors and six newcomers this season.


Drake (0-3) dropped its three matches of the season opening tournament in Green Bay, Wis. but battled in all three matches. The Bulldogs closed the tournament with a superb effort against Central Michigan, a team that qualified for the 2011 NCAA tournament. The Blue and White lost 3-1 to the Chippewas but narrowly missed forcing a decisive fifth set as they fell 30-28 in a wild fourth set.


The Bulldogs will play in their final non-conference tournament of the season when they travel north to Madison, Wis. for the InnTowner Invitational, hosted by the University of Wisconsin. Drake will play Wisconsin, Wisconsin-Milwaukee and North Dakota State.


The Drake University volleyball team has a young roster with six freshmen and three sophomores this season. Everyone but freshman middle blocker Katie Allen (injury) saw significant playing time this past weekend in Green Bay. A pair of freshmen, Cassie Effken (Lincoln, Neb.) and Katie Dulek (Lenexa, Kan.) started all three matches at the middle blocker positions. Sophomore setter Halli Meyer (Bettendorf, Iowa) started all three matches for her first collegiate starts.


The Bulldogs will be challenged early this fall with four non-conference opponents, who qualified for the NCAA tournament in 2011 (Central Michigan, Cincinnati, Wisconsin Milwaukee, and North Dakota State). Drake lost a tough, four-set thriller to Central Michigan in their final match of the Green Bay tournament. The Bulldogs will face North Dakota State twice this season, once at the InnTowner Invitational on Sept. 8 in Madison, Wis. and again on Oct. 15 in Fargo, N.D.


Senior outside hitter Bentley Mancini (Burnsville, Minn.) recorded her 300th kill of her career in the match against Auburn this weekend. Mancini is one of two seniors on a young but talented roster in 2012 and the Blue and White will lean heavily on her powerful left arm for points.


Effken started all three matches this past weekend and tallied 24 kills with 12 block assists. The freshman middle blocker earned all-tournament honors for her efforts. She also received consideration for MVC player of the week.


Second-year head coach Tony Sunga will have a young but talented team in 2012. Drake welcomes seven newcomers to the program and they join six returning players for a total of 13. The Bulldogs will face a strong schedule this season with seven opponents that qualified for the 2011 NCAA tournament.


Senior Bentley Mancini (Burnsville, Minn.) will lead the Bulldogs attack this fall. The Minnesota native enters her senior year with significant experience from the previous two seasons with 15 starts and 236 kills in 2011.

Fellow senior Jadranka Tramslojanin (Ruma, Serbia) will once again provide help between the front and back rows. Amanda Platte (Mount Vernon, Iowa) came on late in 2011 and the sophomore will have an increased role for the Blue and White.

Emily Heffernen and Michelle Reidy graduated from a year ago and their presence in the middle will be missed, but a young and talented group of five is ready to fill their void. Sophomore Erin Roggenburg (Ankeny, Iowa) and freshmen Katie Dulek (Lenexa, Kan.) and Cassie Effken (Lincoln, Neb.) have stood out early and each will see significant time this season. All three played for highly successful high school programs. Roggenburg helped Ankeny win back-to-back state titles, Dulek was a four-time high school state champion in Kansas and Effken helped her Nebraska high school win the state title her senior season. Freshmen Katie Allen (Mokena, Ill.) and Shelby Daum (Battle Creek, Neb.) will provide depth at the position.


Sophomore Halli Meyer (Bettendorf, Iowa) steps into the setter role after the graduation of Caitlin Johnson. Meyer saw time in 14 matches her freshman season and was elected to the team's leadership council for 2012. Freshman Rebecca Brown (Bentonville, Ark.) will backup Meyer. She also comes from a successful high school program that captured two Arkansas state titles.


Tramoslijanin and junior Sarah Madden (Van Meter, Iowa) both enter their second season at Drake and will anchor the back row. Scarlett Howerter (Lincoln, Neb.) teamed with Effken her senior year of high school in Nebraska and will provide depth in the back row.

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.


This season the Bulldogs will have a leadership council with Bentley Mancini as the designated senior class member, Sarah Madden as the designated junior class member, Halli Meyer as the sophomore class member and Cassie Effken will represent the freshman class.

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