Drake split weekend matches at Missouri State and Wichita State to maintain its fifth place standing in the Missouri Valley Conference.
The Bulldogs defeated Missouri State (25-17, 21-25, 25-22, 25-19) in four sets last Friday, but dropped a three-set match at Wichita State the next night.
In Friday’s match, senior libero Alana Wittenburg broke her own school record for digs. Wittenburg tallied a match-high 24 digs to surpass the 633 mark for digs in a single season. After collecting 12 more on Saturday, Wittenburg now has 665 digs for the season.
“She’s a catalyst back there and a defensive captain,” Drake Head Coach Phil McDaniel said in a Drake athletics press release. “She’s worked very hard to break that record again this year.”
After winning the first set and losing the second against the Bears, the Bulldogs stormed back to take the final two games. The victory snapped a 23-match winless streak against Missouri State. It was the first Drake triumph in the series since Oct. 30, 1998.
“We stayed focused the whole match and executed as well as we could have,” McDaniel said. “We forced them into some bad hitting situations.”
Senior Alisa DeBerg Roth tied a season high with 15 kills, while junior Mikayla Sims added 11. Drake held the Bears to just a .152 attack percentage.
Saturday was a different story for Drake. The Bulldogs never hit their stride and were swept by Wichita State (17-25, 25-27, 16-25). Senior Angela Bys and Sims had nine kills each.
After the weekend split, Drake remains tied with Illinois State for the final two spots in the State Farm MVC Championship. The Bulldogs are 22-8 overall and 7-8 in the conference. Evansville and Southern Illinois trail at 5-9 in the Valley. Drake hosts both teams in the final weekend of the season, Nov. 19 and 20.
Illinois State holds a tiebreaker over Drake. The top six out of 10 teams advance to the conference tournament.
The Bulldogs travel to third-place Creighton this Saturday. Drake handled the Bluejays in four sets earlier this season.
“We’ll focus on getting better possessions and cutting down errors this week,” McDaniel said. “It’s about maintaining the six-and-up spot (in the MVC) and getting to the tournament.”