Bulldogs Set For Rematch Monday Night With Bison Before Hosting Annual Dig Pink Match Saturday Night Against Bluejays
The Drake volleyball team (3-16, 2-7 MVC) will have a rematch against North Dakota State (8-12, 5-4 Summit) Monday night in Fargo, N.D. First serve has been changed to 7 p.m. Drake returns to MVC play against the Creighton Bluejays (17-3, 8-1 MVC) on Saturday, Oct. 20 in the first of three-straight home matches. The matchup against the Bluejays will be the annual Dig Pink match and first serve is set for 7 p.m. at the Knapp Center. Live stats will be available for both matches this week at www.godrakebulldogs.com.
NORTH DAKOTA STATE
The Bison knocked off the Bulldogs, 3-1 (25-11, 28-30, 25-19 and 25-20), earlier this year at the InnTowner Invitational. NDSU has won its last three conference matches going into Monday night. The Bison are led by Bryn Joki, who has a team-high 268 kills along with 248 digs. The all-time series between Drake and North Dakota State is 2-2-1.
The Bluejays swept the Bulldogs, 3-0 (25-23, 25-14 and 25-11), earlier this season in Omaha, Neb. Creighton sits at the top of the Valley tied with Northern Iowa. The Bluejays limit opponents to an MVC-best .147 hitting percentage and have the best blocks per set average in the MVC at 3.11. Leah McNarly is the top hitter for the Bluejays with 216 kills and Kelli Browning leads the MVC with a 1.69 blocks per set average. Creighton holds a 24-15 advantage in the all-time series between the two schools.
The Drake student-athletes will wear special pink jerseys that will be auctioned off after the match. Limited edition pink t-shirts will be sold as well and the proceeds from the t-shirts and auction will go to the Side-Out Foundation. Fans will receive a Drake volleyball limited edition poster and there will be a postgame autograph session on the Knapp Center floor.
This past weekend the Bulldogs knocked off Indiana State, 3-1, and were swept by Illinois State, 3-0. In the win over the Sycamores, sophomore Amanda Platte (Mount Vernon, Iowa) had a team-high 13 kills and the Bulldogs had a season-high 11 service aces. Senior Bentley Mancini (Burnsville, Minn.) posted a match-high 12 kills against Illinois State but the Redbirds limited the Bulldogs to just 33 kills and had eight service aces to earn the victory.
The Bulldogs are one of the top serving teams in the Missouri Valley Conference as they average 1.22 service aces per set. Drake recorded a season-high 11 service aces in the win over Indiana State. Jadranka Tramosljanin (Ruma, Serbia) has 30 aces and a 0.44 service aces per set average, both rank first in the MVC and her average ranked 39th in the nation going into this past weekend. Tramosljanin had a career-best six service aces against UNI earlier this fall. Sarah Madden (Van Meter, Iowa) has 15 service aces with a 0.25 per average and is just outside of the top ten in average at 0.22.
Drake had a season-best five players with double figures kills in the win over Bradley earlier this fall led by Mancini's 18, which tied her career-high. Amanda Platte (14), Cassie Effken (Lincoln, Neb.) (16) and Katie Dulek (Lenexa, Kan.) (11) each set new career-highs in kills. Tramosljanin added 12 kills and has tallied double figure kills in six of the last eight matches. Mancini leads the team with 174 kills followed by Tramosljanin (144), Platte (142), Effken (140) and Dulek (88).
Drake lost starting middle blockers, Emily Heffernen and Michelle Reidy to graduation from the 2011 team. Dulek and Effken were inserted into the middle positions at the start of the year and both have produced in their first collegiate seasons for the Bulldogs. Effken leads the team in block solos (18) and block assists (59). She is second on the team in points with 191.5 and is fourth in kills (140). Effken earned all-tournament honors at the first tournament of the season in Green Bay. Dulek is second in block assists (45) and fifth in kills (88) and points (116.5) on the team and earned all-tournament honors at the InnTowner tournament earlier this fall.
Madden and Tramosljanin have provided a strong defensive presence in the back row this year for the Bulldogs. Madden has 349 digs and a 5.13 digs per set average, which is fourth in the conference and she has recorded 20 or more digs in five-straight matches. Tramosljanin has 242 digs and is averaging 3.56 per set. Madden has started every match in the libero position for the Bulldogs and was named to the all-tournament team at the New Mexico State tournament. Defensive specialist Scarlett Howerter (Lincoln, Neb.) has appeared in every match for the Bulldogs to steadily improve in her first year.
Sophomore setter Halli Meyer (Bettendorf, Iowa) dished out a career-high 40 assists in the win over the Bradley. Meyer has started every match this fall for the Bulldogs and has posted double figure assists in every one. She has tallied 356 assists this season, which leads the team. Freshman Rebecca Brown (Bentonville, Ark.) tied her career-best with 24 assists in the Bradley win and has seen action in every match in her first year. Brown has recorded 249 assists.
Senior outside hitter Bentley Mancini leads the Bulldogs with 174 kills, a 2.56 kills per set average and 192 points on the season. Mancini, a left-handed hitter has started every match for the Blue and White this year. The Minnesota native is a senior captain and has 464 kills in her collegiate career.
Amanda Platte has 60 kills in the last five matches, including a career-best 16 against the UNI Panthers. She has started the last nine matches at the other outside hitter position opposite Mancini. Shelby Daum (Battle Creek, Neb.) has recovered from an injury early in the season and has earned more playing time at the hitter position in her first year. Daum a left-hander came off the bench in the SIU match and had four kills in nine attempts with no errors.
ALL HANDS ON DECK
Eleven of the 12 student-athletes on this season'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.
2012 LEADERSHIP COUNCIL
This season the Bulldogs have a leadership council with Bentley Mancini as the designated senior class member, Sarah Madden as the junior class member, Halli Meyer as the sophomore class member and Cassie Effken representing the freshman class.
Drake head coach Tony Sunga is in his second season leading the program. Sunga is a 1988 Drake graduate, who previously served as a Drake assistant under former coach Amy Faber Knowles from 2005-07. Sunga was hired from Wyoming, where he was an assistant coach for three seasons and was responsible for recruiting, defensive scouting and match preparation for the Cowgirl program.
Sunga helped transform Wyoming into a contender in the Mountain West Conference. The Cowgirls improved from five wins during his first year to 22 wins - the most since the 1989 squad made a run to the NCAA Elite Eight. In addition, Sunga spearheaded the recruitment of Winterset, Iowa product Jodi Purdy, who earned 2010 MWC All-Conference honors and was named the 2009 MWC Freshman of the Year. In his first season at Drake his team was named a 2011-12 AVCA Team Academic Award recipient.
Sunga is assisted by Erin Hirsch and Rob Batzler. Hirsch is in her sixth season as a Drake assistant coach and played at the University of Northern Iowa. Batzler is in his first season as an assistant coach after serving as a volunteer coach in 2011.
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.