The Drake University volleyball team, led by head coach Tony Sunga, dropped all three of its matches this weekend at the La Quinta Invitational hosted by New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, NM.
The Bulldogs lost to the New Mexico State Aggies 3-1, with scores of 25-22, 21-25, 25-22, and 25-18. The young team also lost in straight sets to the Cincinnati Bearcats (28-26, 25-15, 25-20) and to the Northwestern Wildcats (27-25, 25-16, 25-16).
Drake was led by seniors Bentley Mancini and Jadranka Tramosljanin throughout the weekend. Tramosljanin tallied 20 kills over the weekend.
“I’m pleased with the resiliency right now in our team and their growth and maturity,” Sunga said in a Drake athletics press release. “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.”
Freshmen Katie Dulek and Cassie Effken came on strong for the team this past weekend playing the middle blockers.
“The middles continue to make progress for us,” Sunga said in a Drake athletics press release. “We are a young team especially with Cassie and Katie in the middle but they continue to get experience each match and help us.”
On Friday, the Bulldogs will travel to the University of Wisconsin for the 21st annual InnTowner Invitational. The team is scheduled to take on Wisconsin, Wisconsin-Milwaukee and North Dakota State.
Wisconsin opened its season with a 5-1 record. Their only loss came against the Bulldogs’ Missouri Valley Conference rival Creighton in the South Florida Invitational in Tampa, Fla. The Bulldogs play Creighton on Sept. 22, meaning the matchup against the Badgers will be a measuring stick for conference competition.
Wisconsin-Milwaukee comes into the tournament with a 4-3 record that includes wins over William and Mary, Fairfield, East Carolina, and Southeast Missouri State. The Panthers dropped games to Duke, Western Michigan and Bradley, another one of Drake’s conference rivals.
Following the match-up with Wisconsin Milwaukee the team takes on North Dakota State (1-5). The Bison’s lone win came over Air Force in the Hampton Inn and Suites Northern Colorado Classic.
After the InnTowner Invitational the team will have its home opener against Wichita State on Friday, Sept. 14 at the Knapp Center.