The Drake University volleyball team will play in its final non-conference tournament of the fall this weekend at the InnTowner Invitational hosted by the University of Wisconsin. The Bulldogs will face the Badgers Friday night at 7 p.m. and Wisconsin-Milwaukee at 10 a.m. and North Dakota State at 5:00 p.m. Saturday.
The Badgers hold a slight edge in the all-time series, 5-3 against the Bulldogs. The two teams last met in the 1989 season and Wisconsin won, 3-0. Wisconsin returns five starters plus the libero from last season's squad that finished 16-16 and eighth overall in the Big 10 Conference. Middle blocker Alexis Mitchell is the top returner for the Badgers; she earned honorable mention all-Big 10 in 2011.
Wisconsin-Milwaukee holds a slight edge in the all-time series, 4-3 against the Bulldogs. The Panthers knocked off the Bulldogs, 3-1 last season at the Sheraton West Des Moines Invitational. The Panthers took home the Sheraton championship on their way to winning the Horizon League championship and qualifying for the NCAA tournament. Milwaukee returns four starters and has 10 freshmen and sophomores this fall.
North Dakota State
The Bison hold a 3-0-1 all-time advantage in the series against Drake. The Bulldogs won the last match between the two teams, 3-1 at the Knapp Center during the 2010 season. North Dakota State returns three starters plus the libero from the 2011 team that won the Summit League and qualified for the NCAA championship. Brynn Joki and Megan Lambertson are the top returners for the Bison this fall. Drake and NDSU will meet again Monday, Oct. 15 in Fargo, N.D.
The Bulldogs will open MVC action next week. Wichita State will travel to the Knapp Center Friday, Sept. 14 and Missouri State the following day. First serve for both matches will be 7 p.m. Drake lost both matches against each team last season.
Bentley Mancini (Burnsville, Minn.) who last week had her 300th kill against Central Michigan, closed out the La Quinta Inv. with two stellar performances. She posted 12 kills with just three errors and four block assists in the New Mexico State match. In the final match against Cincinnati she posted seven kills with just two errors and two block assists.
Drake's two defensive specialists, Sarah Madden (Van Meter, Iowa) and Jadranka Tramosljanin (Ruma, Serbia) each rank in the top-10 in the MVC in digs. Madden, a redshirt junior is sixth with 4.50 per set and Tramosljanin, a senior is ninth with 3.95 per set. Madden earned all-tournament honors at the La Quinta Invitational.
The Bulldogs average one service ace per set, which is good for eighth in the Valley. Madden is tied for fifth with an average of .35 per set.
Freshmen Katie Dulek (Lenexa, Kan.) and Cassie Effken (Lincoln, Neb.) have each started all six matches this season for the Blue and White. Drake lost starting middle blockers, Emily Heffernen and Michelle Reidy to graduation from the 2011 team. Effken leads the Bulldogs in kills (47), block solos (7), block assists (20), total blocks (27) and points (66). She was named to the all-tournament team at the Bulldogs first tournament at Green Bay, Wis. and she currently leads the MVC with an average of 1.35 blocks per set. Dulek has 26 kills this season with 17 block assists.
Outside hitter Shelby Daum (Battle Creek, Neb.) is ranked tenth in the Missouri Valley Conference in hitting percentage efficiency at .333. The freshman has recorded 14 kills with just two errors in 36 total attempts.
ALL HANDS ON DECK
11 of the 12 student-athletes on this season's roster have seen match action so far. Drake has one of the youngest rosters in the nation with two seniors, one redshirt junior, three sophomores and six freshmen. Freshman Katie Allen (Mokena, Ill.) has not played yet due to injury.
THE BULLDOGS IN 2012
Second-year head coach Tony Sunga will have a young but talented team in 2012. Drake welcomes six 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 Tramosljanin (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.
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 designated junior class member, Halli Meyer as the sophomore class member and Cassie Effken will represent the freshman class.
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.