by KENDALL HUNT
Drake volleyball opened conference play at home this weekend against Indiana State and Evansville, adding one win and one loss to their overall 7-8 season record. In their first match on Friday, the Dogs pulled through in a tough five-set match against Indiana State.
“I am so glad that we pulled off the five-set win,” freshman Alex Lemke aid. “It was very important to win that match for our confidence going into conference and just to start out on the right foot.”
The Dogs got off to a rocky start in the match against the Indiana State Sycamores, racking up errors and falling 21-25 in the first set. Drake united as a team, however, and played aggressive at the net to take the next two sets 25-16 and 25-21.
The following fourth set was a back-and-forth battle, with fifteen lead changes and long rallies on both sides. Indiana State, though, just pulled out the set with an extremely tight score of 28-26.
Despite the anticipation of a fifth set, Drake approached the challenge with renewed energy. The Bulldogs started and finished strong, capitalizing on freshman Haley Bush, who finished the match with twenty-five kills. Senior Paige Aspinwall, as well, led the game with forty assists and twenty digs. Drake had a total of fifty-eight kills in the game, resulting in a solid hitting percentage of .147.
“We knew after the first set we were going to have to be more aggressive and work twice as hard,” Lemke said. “But we did just that and ended up with the win.”
The following day, Drake headed into another challenging conference match against Evansville at the Knapp Center.
The Dogs opened strong, effectively utilizing the short angle cross-court shot and maintaining consistent momentum to defeat the Aces 25-17 in the first set.
But, Evansville stormed back to take the next three sets 25-21, 25-15, and 25-14. The second set was close, with Drake taking an early 18-11 lead. But, a tough run of errors from the Drake team shifted the lead and allowed the Aces to close out the set. The Evansville team was aided by Melanie Feliciano, who had twenty-four kills in the game. Drake fought hard, with Haley Bush and Elle Tubbs leading in kills, but the team’s hitting percentage remained significantly behind Evansville’s .268.
“We are still struggling to find the continuity that we need as a team,” Coach McBroom explained after the match. “But with time I look looking forward to getting on a good routine for our team. Things will slow down for our freshman especially, as we get into conference play, and while we were picked to finish sixth in the conference, we hope to finish our season in a better place.”
Following this weekend, the Bulldogs now head to the road, facing Loyola in Chicago Monday evening.
“We need to become more consistent in our play as a team, and that is our goal going into the weekend,” McBroom said.
And with this in mind, the Bulldogs are seeking a second conference win on Monday.