Story by Austin Cannon
The Bulldogs dropped their opening match to Stetson University on Friday, but came back in the evening to beat the Montana State Bobcats in four sets.
The road got a little bumpier for Drake on Saturday. The University of Idaho beat Drake in four sets in the first match and the University of Wyoming swept the Bulldogs in the final match of the tournament.
Drake dropped the first two sets to Stetson (25-22, 25-21) before beating the Hatters 25-21 in the third. Stetson then went on to win the fourth set by the slimmest of margins, 25-23.
Head coach Darrin McBroom thought his team had a shot to win, but the Bulldogs’ slow start was too much to overcome.
“We just came out really slow in the first two sets. We picked up in the third set and the fourth set but it was just a little two late to change the outcome,” McBroom said.
The Bulldogs notched their first victory of the season in the nightcap, downing Montana State 25-16, 21-25, 28-26, 25-15.
“It was a really good game for us. We made very few errors. We played a smart, controlled game and it was great to get a win out there,” McBroom said. “I think it was important for this team to get that first win under their belt.”
The Bulldogs opened Saturday with a hard-fought match versus the Idaho Vandals, losing 25-14, 30-28, 20-25, 26-24.
Even with the loss, Coach McBroom was encouraged with his team’s play.
“I had no problem with our team in that match. We did a lot of things well, and we played a really good match,” he said.
Wyoming, the eventual tournament champion, swept the Bulldogs in an impressive fashion, 25-15, 25-23, 25-18.
“Wyoming just came out and overpowered and outmuscled us a little bit. We got flustered, got behind and it just kind of snowballed,” McBroom said.
Sophomore outside hitter Cassie Effken saw a big difference playing the host school as opposed to the other visiting teams.
“It was a different game since it was at their home and they had a huge crowd, “ Effken said.
Effken and junior outside hitter Amanda Platte paced the Drake attack, with 42 and 45 kills on the weekend respectively.
Effken attributed their success to a complete team effort.
“If the team is performing, it helps us do better too. Our back row did a good job of getting the balls up, and our setters were giving us good, hittable balls,” Effken said.
Drake’s freshmen also played a major role out west, without the usual nervousness that comes with rookie status.
“They did a good job of not making freshman mistakes,” Platte said.
The 1-3 record not withstanding, McBroom thinks his team has a good foundation for future improvement.
“Overall, we saw a lot of good things this weekend. We’re doing a lot of the right things. Now we just need to get a little better,” McBroom said.
Drake opens its home schedule this weekend, hosting the West Des Moines Sheraton Drake Invitational. The Bulldogs will play Eastern Illinois University, South Dakota State University and DePaul University. Drake’s first game is set for tomorrow night at 7 p.m. versus DePaul.
“We’re just hoping to have a good environment here, come out strong and improve from last weekend,” Effken said.
“We’re hoping for a really big crowd from the student body, especially the freshmen,” Platte added.