Photo: Jordan Eggleston
The Bulldogs bid two seniors farewell on Saturday at the Knapp Center with a 3-1 victory over Indiana State, improving Drake to 4-12 in Missouri Valley Conference play.
Seniors Bentley Mancini and Jadranka Tramosljanin completed their Knapp Center careers, boosting Saturday’s stakes.
“There was pressure on us,” said head coach Tony Sunga. “We wanted to do well for our seniors.”
Drake didn’t falter under the pressure, though, as the Bulldogs outpaced Indiana State’s pesky offense. The Bulldogs won with set scores of 25-21, 25-22, 20-25 and 25-13.
“We overcame points where they were digging us,” Sunga said. “We knew we needed to get back at them, and that perseverance was really the key tonight. It doesn’t hurt when our middle players are doing well and when our outside hitters are getting some kills, so it’s all-around. Key for us as a team was hitting above .200.”
Freshman middle blocker Cassie Effken led Drake’s offensive attack with 14 kills. Tramosljanin finished her last Knapp Center appearance with 12 kills and 16 digs.
Mancini suffered a torn ACL a week ago against Bradley and is out for the season. The two-time letterwinner and senior captain finished her Drake career with 524 kills.
Though Drake’s 2012 campaign won’t include a trip to the State Farm Missouri Valley Conference Championship, Sunga lauded the Bulldogs’ strides.
“Every game, we’ve taken huge steps,” Sunga said. “How to play in somebody else’s gym in hostile territory. There’s no backing down from anybody. We started off with a pretty tough schedule, and I think it just made us better. It’s just good. It really just made us stronger in the end.”
Though Tramosljanin’s Bulldog career will soon end, Saturday’s victory boosted Drake’s 2013 confidence.
“The last home game is really important,” Tramosljanin said. “It provides confidence for the next season.”
Illinois State swept Drake on Friday night at the Knapp Center, 3-0, with set scores of 25-21, 25-23 and 25-10.
The MVC foes traded momentum throughout the opening set, but Illinois State used a late 3-0 run to win 25-21.
Drake gained an early advantage in the second stanza, but Illinois State again used a late offensive rally to take the set.
A slow start doomed Drake in the third, allowing Illinois State to take an early lead.
The Redbirds never relinquished that early lead, using several key kills to sweep the Bulldogs.
Sophomore outside hitter Amanda Platte paced Drake with a game-high 11 kills against Illinois State.
The Bulldogs will take on Missouri State at 7 p.m. on Friday in Springfield, Mo., and will then take on Wichita State on Saturday at 7 p.m. to finish their season.