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Bulldogs Travel To Omaha For Two Matches This Weekend

Courtesy: Drake Athletics
         
Release: September 19, 2012
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THIS WEEK'S SCHEDULE                

Fri., Sept. 21   at Nebraska Omaha                    7:00 p.m.

Sat., Sept. 22  at Creighton                               5:00 p.m.

NEBRASKA OMAHA

The Bulldogs will step away from MVC action this Friday night when they face the Nebraska Omaha Mavericks in Omaha, Neb. UNO is reclassifying to Division I this season and they are members of the Summit League. The Mavericks and the Drake Bulldogs (0-11, 0-2 MVC) are even in the all-time series at 7-7 but haven't faced each other since the 1986 season. The Mavericks took that match 3-0. Drake will play only one more non-conference match this season when they have a rematch with North Dakota State in Fargo, N.D. on Monday, Oct. 15. NDSU beat Drake, 3-1 earlier this season at the InnTowner Invitational.

CREIGHTON

Drake will face the Creighton Bluejays (10-1, 2-0 MVC) Saturday night in its first MVC road match of 2012. The Bluejays have matched their best start in program history and will also step out of MVC play Wednesday when they play at Kansas. Senior setter Megan Bober is one of five returning starters this season for the Bluejays, who were picked fourth in the MVC preseason poll. Bober is a two-time MVC First Teamer averaging 9.40 assists per set. Drake was narrowly defeated in a five-set thriller in the last matchup between the two teams on Drake's Senior Night on Saturday, Nov. 19, 2011. The Bulldogs will be trying for their first win over the Bluejays since Oct. 16, 2010 when they won, 3-1, at the Knapp Center. Creighton holds a 23-15 advantage in the all-time series between the two schools.

ACES

Senior Jadranka Tramosljanin (Ruma, Serbia) is second in the Valley in service aces average. The senior outside hitter is averaging 0.36 per set and has 13 aces overall this season. Tramosjanin has started every match this fall.

DEFENSE

Sarah Madden (Van Meter, Iowa) and Tramosljanin are ranked fourth and ninth in the MVC in digs, respectively. Madden has 175 digs and is averaging 4.86 per set and Tramosljanin has 139 digs and is averaging 3.86 per set. Madden has started every match in the libero position for the Bulldogs.

INSTANT IMPACT

Freshmen Katie Dulek (Lenexa, Kan.) and Cassie Effken (Lincoln, Neb.) have each started all eleven 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 (43), block assists (33), block solos (10) and points (106.5) and is second in kills (78). She was named to the all-tournament team at the Bulldogs first tournament of the season (Green Bay). Effken is fifth in the MVC with a 1.19 blocks per set average. Dulek is second on the team in block assists (29) and fifth in kills (40). She was named to the all-tournament team this past weekend at the InnTowner Invitational.

SETTING UP

Sophomore Halli Meyer (Bettendorf, Iowa) has started all eleven matches this year at the setter position for the Bulldogs. She has dished 166 assists this season for an average of 4.61 per set and also has 63 digs. Freshman Rebecca Brown (Bentonville, Ark.) has seen action in all eleven matches at the setter position as well. She has dished 134 assists for an average of 4.11 per set and has 44 digs.

LEFTY FIREPOWER

Senior outside hitter Bentley Mancini (Burnsville, Minn.) leads the Bulldogs with 86 kills and 2.39 kills per set. Mancini, a left-handed hitter has started every match for the Blue and White this season. The Minnesota native is a senior captain and has 376 kills in her collegiate career.

STEPPING UP

Sophomore Amanda Platte (Mount Vernon, Iowa) had 17 kills in the two matches this past weekend. Against Wichita State she tallied eight kills with just one attack error and finished with a .350 hitting percentage. She also had one dig and two block assists. The next night against Missouri State she started and tallied nine kills, one block assist and two digs. Platte has started five matches and Erin Roggenburg (Ankeny, Iowa) has started six matches this fall at one of the outside hitter positions opposite Mancini.

ALL HANDS ON DECK

Eleven of the 12 student-athletes on this year'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. Freshman middle blocker/outside hitter Katie Allen (Mokena, Ill.) has not played yet.

ROAD TRIP

Drake will hit the road once again next week when they travel to Evansville and Southern Illinois, Friday-Saturday, Sept. 28-29. The Bulldogs will return to the Knapp Center Friday, Oct. 5 when they host the Bradley Braves.

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 representing the freshman class.

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. The Bulldogs will face a strong schedule this season with seven opponents that qualified for the 2011 NCAA tournament.

ATTACK

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. Amanda Platte (Mount Vernon, Iowa) came on late in 2011 and the sophomore will have an increased role for the Blue and White. Sophomore Erin Roggenburg (Ankeny, Iowa) and Shelby Daum (Battle Creek, Neb.) will provide depth at the position. Senior Jadranka Tramosljanin (Ruma, Serbia) will once again provide help between the front and back rows.

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. Freshmen Katie Dulek (Lenexa, Kan.) and Cassie Effken (Lincoln, Neb.) have stood out early and each will see significant time this season. Freshmen Katie Allen (Mokena, Ill.) will provide depth in the middle and on the outside.

SETTER

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.

DEFENSE

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.

COACHING STAFF

Drake head coach Tony Sunga is in his second year leading the program. Sunga is a 1988 Drake graduate, who previously served as a Drake assistant coach 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 he served 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.

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