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Bulldogs win 17th, but suffer second loss in Valley

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Drake’s weekend road trip resulted in a split of two Missouri Valley Conference matches.

The Bulldogs’ weekend started well with a four-set victory (25-20, 25-23, 24-26, 25-15) over Indiana State on Friday before they fell to Illinois State (23-25, 23-25, 25-23, 25-27) on Saturday. The Bulldogs’ record fell to 17-3 on the season.

Drake is guaranteed to finish above .500 for the season after picking up victory number 17.

“It’s a good start, but we have a ways to go before we celebrate,” Head Coach Phil McDaniel said in a Drake athletics press release after Friday’s win. “It’s a tough conference and we’ll see everyone again.”

The Bulldogs’ offense dominated against Indiana State with a .324 attack percentage. Senior Angela Bys had 21 kills on 45 attempts and sophomore Whitney Westrum and junior Mikayla Sims both finished the match with 10 kills apiece.

Junior Caitlin Johnson led the team with 23 assists and was closely followed by senior Susan Clausen, who finished with 22 assists.

The Bulldogs recorded six service aces as a team, as senior Alana Wittenburg and Johnson both had two apiece.

“Our service team did very well (on Friday),” McDaniel said.

A valiant defensive effort wasn’t enough for the Bulldogs in the match against the Redbirds of Illinois State. The Bulldogs registered a season-high 15 total blocks as a team.

Senior Alisa DeBerg Roth led the team with six assisted blocks. Sophomore Emily Heffernen and junior Michelle Reidy both contributed five assisted blocks on the evening.

Bys, who registered 19 kills on 64 attempts, led the Bulldog attack.

Wittenburg led the back row defense with 32 digs and Johnson contributed 27 assists for the Bulldogs.

The Bulldogs’ record in Missouri Valley Conference play remained at .500 (3-3). They currently sit in sixth place in the conference, which would make them the last team to reach postseason play if the season ended today.

Drake returns to Des Moines this weekend to take on the Wichita State Shockers (10-4, 3-2) on Friday and the Missouri State Bears (13-3, 4-1) on Saturday.

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