LAS CRUCES, N.M. - The Drake University volleyball team dropped its final two matches Saturday at the La Quinta Invitational hosted by New Mexico State. The Bulldogs lost 3-1 to the New Mexico State Aggies and 3-0 to the Cincinnati Bearcats. In the New Mexico State match the scores were 25-22, 21-25, 25-22, 25-18 and in the Cincinnati match the scores were 28-26, 25-15, 25-20.
Senior Bentley Mancini (Burnsville, Minn.) led the Bulldogs with 19 kills on the day,
including 12 against the Aggies with a .333 hitting percentage. Fellow senior Jadranka Tramosljanin (Ruma, Serbia)
added 16 kills and 20 digs, and she posted a double-double in the match against
the Aggies (10 kills, 11 digs). Sarah Madden (Van Meter, Iowa) finished with 28 digs today and was named to the all-tournament team.
"In our morning match against New Mexico State we played well but we fell just short," Sunga said." We had some small errors that got us because we let them snowball, but we were in the correct mindset today and we were never intimidated."
Drake trailed early in set one, 15-11, going into the first media timeout. Out of the timeout the Aggies built a 22-16 lead and forced a Drake timeout. The young Bulldogs fought back and cut the Aggies lead to 24-22 after a kill by Cassie Effken (Lincoln, Neb.). The rally fell just short though as the Aggies closed out the set with a kill by Lauren Loerch, 25-22.
In set two, the Bulldogs fell behind early going down 15-11 before mounting a comeback with a 9-5 run to cut the lead to 21-20 and force an Aggies timeout. Out of the break the Blue and White ripped off five straight points with three kills by Mancini, 25-20 to even the match at 1-1.
New Mexico State took set three, 25-22 behind 15 kills and just eight errors and closed out the match, 25-18 in set four. Drake finished the match with 53 kills and just 22 errors for a .217 hitting percentage, their highest mark this season.
Drake and Cincinnati played this evening and the Bulldogs once again were competitive early dropping a thriller in set one, 26-28. The Bearcats closed out the match with a 25-15 win in set two and a 25-20 win in set three and the loss dropped the young Bulldogs record to 0-6 on the season.
"I'm pleased with the resiliency right now in our team and their growth and maturity," Sunga said. "We are on the verge of being that team we want to be. We have to keep improving in some areas and continue to get reps and it will get better with more experience. We are learning to fight back when teams push us and not get intimidated and we are getting great leadership from the upper classmen and the freshmen are stepping up as well. Bentley really turned it on this weekend and it shows with the impressive numbers she posted."
The Bulldogs will play in their final non-conference tournament beginning next Friday when they face the University of Wisconsin in the InnTowner Invitational hosted by the Badgers. The match will start at 7 p.m. and live stats will be available at www.godrakebulldogs.com. Drake will close with matches on Saturday against North Dakota State and Wisconsin-Milwaukee.