STORY BY ADAM ROGAN
Drake managed to remain above .500 after four matches at the UND Classic last week.
The Bulldogs lost to the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay and the tournament hosts, the University of North Dakota, on Friday. Their luck turned around as they sweeped Jacksonville State the following morning before finishing the tournament with a loss against the University of South Dakota (SDU).
The match against UND was the second in a row against that team, having lost to them in three hard-fought sets at the Omaha Invitational on September 5.
This week’s rematch wasn’t quite as close, as UND’s balanced attack overpowered the Bulldogs’ front three.
Drake’s strategy focused on hitters Makena Schoene and Kyla Inderski, while UND spread the wealth more effectively, with four different players recording more than 15 total attempts on hits. Only Inderski and Schoene had that many for Drake.
UND’s hitters also outperformed Drake’s when it came down to the effectiveness of their strikes, recording a hit percentage of .360 as compared to Drake’s .236.
The Bulldogs were also outplayed at the net, recording only one block in the match compared to UND’s eight.
Drake struggled similarly against the Green Bay Phoenix, although this match was closer than the previous.
The Bulldogs dropped the first two games 22-25, 13-25, before battling back in a streaky game three.
Behind serving from Rachel Goettl, Drake managed to take a 15-11 lead, but the Phoenix responded with a run of their own to retake the lead, 21-20.
In total, game three featured eight lead changes, several of which took place during the final stretch.
Drake broke away from a 27-27 tie with kills from senior Katie Dulek and Schoene to win the set 29-27 and stay alive in the match.
The Bulldogs seemed spent after surviving set three, and dropped the fourth and final game of the match 15-25.
Again, Drake’s front-line was simply outperformed by their opponents. The Bulldogs only recorded two blocks as the Phoenix had seven, and Green Bay’s hit percentage was also more than .100 better than Drake’s.
The third match, against the Jacksonville State Gamecocks, featured much better hitting from the Bulldogs. Drake also recorded nine aces, tying a season high.
The Gamecocks were prevented from ever leading in the first two sets, as Drake took the early advantage 25-15, 25-22.
The third game was much closer, featuring four ties within the last five points of the match.
With the set tied at 23, freshman Grace Schofield finished off the Gamecocks with a kill and an ace.
Although the win translated into some momentum for the Bulldogs, it wasn’t enough to take down the South Dakota Coyotes.
SDU defeated JSU the day before, but then dropped their next two matches, bringing their record to 3-6 before facing off with Drake.
The Coyotes took the first game 20-25 before the Bulldogs evened the match at one set apiece with a 25-23 win in set two.
However, the Coyotes’ performance improved in the final two games of the match as the Bulldogs slumped. SDU recorded a hit percentage of .289 compared to Drake’s .209.
The Bulldogs would lead in each of the final two games, but were never closer than five points when it came to the final score.
The loss dropped the Bulldogs to 7-5 on the year, although that record changed last night when Western Illinois came to the Knapp Center for Drake’s first home match of the season.
For a recap and analysis of yesterday’s match go to timesdelphic.com.