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Bulldogs Start Conference Play with Two Home Matches

Courtesy: Drake Athletics
Release: September 12, 2012
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Fri., Sept. 14   WICHITA STATE                  7:00 p.m.
Sat., Sept. 15  MISSOURI STATE               7:00 p.m.


The Bulldogs will start Missouri Valley Conference action this weekend when the Wichita State Shockers (6-3) travel to the Knapp Center Friday night. Drake (0-9) will host the Missouri State Bears (5-6) Saturday night. Both matches will start at 7 p.m.


The Shockers won the SMU tournament this past weekend with wins over SMU, Auburn and Texas State. Senior outside hitter Emily Adney leads the Shockers with 107 kills. WSU was picked to finish third in the MVC preseason poll. Chris Lamb is the Wichita State head coach and is in his 12th season at the helm. Wichita State won both matches last season against Drake.


Missouri State lost their last match to Northern Illinois in a five-set thriller. MSU has lost to No. 11 Dayton and No. 22 Kansas State this season. Christin McCartney leads the Bears in kills with 131 and she also has 105 digs. MSU was picked to finish second in the MVC preseason poll. Melissa Stokes is the Missouri State head coach and she is her 16th season at the helm. Missouri State won both matches in 2011 against Drake.


Drake will travel to Omaha, Neb. for two matches next weekend, one non-conference and one conference. Friday they will take on Nebraska Omaha at 7 p.m. and the next night the Bulldogs will face MVC rival Creighton at 5 p.m.


Bentley Mancini (Burnsville, Minn.) continues to play well at the net for the Bulldogs. The senior outside hitter has tallied seven or more kills in each of her last five matches, including a season-high 12 against New Mexico State. She has 20 block assists this season as well.


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 third with 4.83 per set and Tramosljanin, a senior, is ninth with 3.87 per set. Madden earned all-tournament honors at the La Quinta Invitational earlier this fall.


Tramosljanin has 10 service aces this season and her average of 0.33 per set is third in the Valley.


Freshmen Katie Dulek (Lenexa, Kan.) and Cassie Effken (Lincoln, Neb.) have both started all nine matches in their first 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 total blocks (36), block solos (9) and points (90.5) and is tied for first in block assists (27) and second in kills (66). She was named to the all-tournament team at the Bulldog's first tournament of the season (Green Bay). Effken is tied for fourth in the MVC with a 1.20 blocks per set average. Dulek is tied for first in team block assists (27) and fifth in kills (36). She was named to the all-tournament team this past weekend at the InnTowner Invitational.


Sophomore Halli Meyer (Bettendorf, Iowa) has started all nine matches this season at the setter position for the Bulldogs. She has dished 142 assists for an average of 4.73 per set while recording 54 digs. Freshman Rebecca Brown (Bentonville, Ark.) has seen action in all nine matches this season at the setter position as well. She has collected 118 assists for an average of 3.93 per set and has 36 digs.


Eleven 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.


Second-year head coach Tony Sunga will have a young, but talented team in 2012. Drake welcomed six newcomers to the program and they join six returning players for a total of 12. The Bulldogs 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.


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 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.

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