Story by Austin Cannon
Photos by Joel Venzke
The Bulldogs lost all three of their games, including two back and forth five-set thrillers to DePaul University and South Dakota State University.
Eastern Illinois University swept the Bulldogs in three sets on Saturday afternoon.
DePaul entered the tournament undefeated, having swept all of their previous opponents.
After dropping the first set 22-25, Drake came back to play a close second. Teams exchanged leads until the score was tied at 26. A Blue Demon error and following shot into the net gave the Bulldogs the set, 28-26.
The fourth set spelled trouble for Drake. DePaul took the lead at 6-5 and never looked back. To make matters worse, sophomore middle blocker Cassie Effken, who led the team with 17 kills in the match, came down awkwardly from a leap, injuring her right leg.
Without Effken, DePaul blitzed Drake in the final set, 15-2, and won the match.
Head coach Darrin McBroom saw positive signs in the loss but stressed that more consistency was needed.
“Our team did a lot of things very well. We just didn’t do it well enough over the long term,” he said. “Everybody had some high points but then it didn’t remain consistent for them.”
Fifth-year senior libero Sarah Madden was not surprised that the young Bulldogs competed with DePaul, the eventual tournament champion.
McBroom once again relied heavily on his young players. Freshmen Samantha Myers, Capris Quaites and Michelle Thommi all contributed valuable minutes.
“The freshmen aren’t afraid to go in and play. They understand what they’re doing. They just need time to get better,” McBroom said.
Effken led the Bulldogs with 17 kills, Madden had 29 digs and sophomore Rebecca Brown had 33 assists.
Drake faced the Eastern Illinois (EUI) Panthers, who came into the tournament 1-3, Saturday afternoon.
EIU opened the first set with a 5-0 lead and did not relinquish it. They won the set 25-16.
Drake managed to cut out a small lead at 5-3 but EIU went on a 6-0 run to take a 9-5 lead. Drake stuck around, never getter closer that 13-15.
The Panthers scored seven points while Drake could only manage one, making the score 22-14. Drake scored next, but it was too late. EIU took the set, 25-19.
EIU scored in bunches in the third, exploding to a 21-8 lead. Drake managed to get to double digits, but EIU won the set 25-14 and the match 3-0.
A re-energized Drake team returned to play the South Dakota State (SDSU) Jackrabbits in the Saturday nightcap.
The Jacks got out to a fast start, leading 10-3. Drake responded with an 8-1 to tie it at 11. The two teams exchanged points, SDSU leading 15-14.
SDSU then went on a 10-1 run to win the set 25-15.
In the second set, the Jackrabbits led most of the way, until the Bulldogs tied the game at 18. After trading scores, SDSU goes up 24-23.
A kill by Platte knots it up a 24 and Drake scores the next two points to win the set 26-24.
The third set goes the way of the first. SDSU used long scoring runs to win it 25-15.
The fourth set featured 10 ties and seven lead changes. Late in the set, the Bulldogs faced a 23-22 deficit. However, the Bulldogs scored three unanswered points to win the set.
The fifth set was contested early, SDSU scraping out a 9-8 lead. The Jacks then go on a 6-1 run to win the set and their first match f the season.
Coach McBroom was pleased with his team’s effort in the night game.
“I really want to judge the girls tonight on a level of effort and commitment and less on the outcome,” he said. “They had given everything physically. They’d given everything mentally. I can’t ask for much more than that.”
He also expressed how difficult it was to fill the role of the injured Cassie Effken, who missed both matches Saturday.
Anytime you lose a key player like Cassie it’s a big hole to fill and you’re not going to fill it. I think Tegan LeBerge came in, as a freshman, and I thought she did a great job,” McBroom said.
LeBerge finished with seven kills, a career-high. Fellow freshman Capris Quaites tied for a team-high with 12 kills.
Sophomore Shelby Daum also had 12 kills, a new career-high, and contributed the close match to the team’s togetherness.
“Everyone put it in for everyone. We played for each other and we were all in no matter what,” she said.
Drake volleyball returns to action against the University of Iowa on Friday to open the 2013 Hawkeye Challenge.