By, HANNAH COHEN
Drake volleyball took a road trip to Illinois this past weekend to play the now third place MVC Bradley and first place MVC Illinois State. The Bulldogs added two losses to their record, giving them a 5-9 conference record so far with four more matches to go before the MVC tournament.
“It was obviously not the outcome we wanted,” Callan Holmes, outside hitter, said. “We know what we have to do from here on out and take care of it. It’s a learning experience.”
Their first stop was in Normal, Illinois against Illinois State, on Friday, Nov. 2. The redbirds took Drake in three sets with scores of 25-21, 25-13 and 25-18. Emily Plock, opposite hitter, earned a kill in the first, bringing Drake back in a close four-point set.
“I’m still really proud on how we played and stuck together throughout the entire match,” Grace Schofield, outside hitter, said.
Leaders for this match include Plock’s 10 for 21 kills and outside hitter Cathryn Cheek’s,11 kills, making it her 10th straight match with double-digits and a double-double. Homes and middle blocker Elle Tubbs, added three kills each.
“It was very impressive to know that we can compete at such a high level with that team because they have five outside hitters that were all performing,” Holmes said. “To know that we were able to compete with that was reassuring.”
In this match, Caitlyn Smith also collected over half of Drake’s 31 assists with 22 herself and no errors. This aided Drake’s three-point lead in the second set but couldn’t carry the Bulldogs to a win, only getting them to 13 points. The third set provided another opportunity for Illinois State and gave them the match with their .392 hitting percentage over Drake’s .151.
“We were not defending very well,” Cheek said. “They have a really good offense and fi e hitters all of the time that are on and that’s really hard to stop. When teams have their go-to hitters it’s easy to focus in on them but it’s really hard to sell all five down so it affected us.”
On Saturday, Nov. 3, the Bulldogs faced Bradley in Peoria, IL. Cheek, libero Kylee Macke, and Schofield, even with her injury, all recorded their own record digs to make a combined total of 85 digs (Cheek with 25, Schofield 29 and Macke 31) but couldn’t pull off a Drake win.
“It was definitely tough emotionally,” Schofield said. “At the end of the day, Bradley was making less errors than us and came out on top.”
Drake took the first set, 25-20 before Bradley bounced back in the last three sets (25-22, 25-16, 26-24). The statistics per team were close in this match and Drake outdid Bradley with 52-50 kills, 12-11 blocks and 52-50 assists.
“It’s definitely frustrating to know that you’re doing the right things and not getting the outcomes that you want,” Scofield said. “Bradley just played a cleaner match than we did and had less errors.”
After Bradley came back making it 2-1, the Braves took the fourth set in a close 26-24. Paige Aspinwall registered 24 assists and no errors and Smith’s second game in a row with 22.
“We shouldn’t have been in the position to be that close in the fourth set to begin with,” Cheek said. “We were trailing behind and they closed it up. It’s one of those times where you can’t put it all on that one set because it all equally was not where it should have been in the first place.”
The bulldogs return home this weekend for their last homestand and conference matches against Southern Illinois (1-13 MVC) Friday, Nov. 9 at 7 p.m. in the Knapp Center and Missouri State (8-6 MVC) Saturday at 7 p.m.
“We really hope that it’s our biggest outcome of the year,” Holmes said. “We hope that all of bulldog nation comes out and supports because our seniors deserve it. The leadership with [this] senior group has been the strongest out of any other teams I’ve ever been on.”
PHOTO OF THE DRAKE WOMEN’S VOLLEYBALL TEAM IN ACTION| PHOTO COURTESY OF DRAKE ATHLETICS