Drake Volleyball went to Charleston, Illinois, this past weekend to compete in a tournament. The team came back home with two wins and one loss with match scores of 3-1, 3-0 and 1-3.
The Bulldogs opened the EIU Panther Classic with a win against Eastern Illinois.
Senior outside hitter Makena Schoene had a season-high 17 kills, on 32 attempts in the match.
“Every game has a life of it’s own,” Schoene said. “I had a struggle the past couple weekends, just getting in a rhythm with my setters and getting the feel of the team. I think that everyone was doing their jobs and hitting their spots.”
The first two sets came easy for the Bulldogs with scores of 25-18 and 25-9, respectively.
In the third set, the Panthers put together a 5-3 run to give them the set win, 25-23. This brought the match to a fourth set.
The Bulldogs were quick to refocus and punched out a 16-6 lead to start the fourth set, bringing the set to a close with a Drake victory of 25-13 and a Bulldog match win of 3-1.
Junior middle blocker Kameo Pope added another nine kills and four blocks. Sophomore Grace Schofield and senior Capris Quaites added another eight kills each and combined for seven additional blocks.
On the defensive end, senior libero Michelle Thommi led the team with 21 digs.
The Bulldogs were able to hit an average of .248 and keep Eastern Illinois at .085.
“Eastern Illinois was a team that has had a slow start this year,” head coach Darrin McBroom said. “It was a test for us to not come in and play down. We had a little trouble in the third set because of an injury. We had to make some changes that threw us off a little bit, but we came back strong the fourth.”
The next day the Bulldogs had their second match, this time against Louisiana Tech.
Schoene was a major part on the offensive end once again, adding 11 kills on 23 attempts. Junior outside hitter Kyla Inderski added another 11, with junior Odessa Cody adding a career-high 10 kills.
The first set opened with a 10-3 lead against Louisiana. During the set, Louisiana was able to pull within three points four separate times, but an ace from Pope coupled with a pair of Louisiana errors, gave Drake the win.
“Our team chemistry is really good,” Pope said. “Just how we all mesh together looks bright for us going into the conference.”
In the second set, the Bulldogs were able to manage a 10-6 lead early on. However, a 5-1 run by Louisiana put them at 21-20 over the Bulldogs.
With the score tied at 23, a pair of back-to-back kills from Schoene and Quaites ultimately gave the Bulldogs the victory in the second set.
Louisiana managed to stay within two points for most of the third set, but an 8-2 Bulldog stretch followed soon after by a 5-0 run gave Drake the final victory.
The Bulldogs shut out Louisiana 3-0 on the match with set scores of 25-19, 26-24 and 25-15.
Unlike the previous two matches where the Bulldogs shot a .248 and a .295 respectively, they were unable to get above a .085 in the final match against Bowling Green.
Drake won the third set 25-23, after losing back-to-back 25-20 sets, but a 7-1 run by Bowling Green sealed the Falcons’ victory by a score of 25-15 in the fourth set.
In 2015, the Bulldogs had a strong start, going 5-0 initially, but then lost eight of the next 12 games.
They finished last season ranked eighth of 10 teams in the Missouri Valley Conference and are looking to surpass that mark in 2016.
Currently, Drake is 8-3, a slightly stronger start than last year, so now it’s about maintaining that success.
“It’s really focusing on the little things. We can’t let a win like this go to our head. We still have to hit the ground running and really focus on the stuff that didn’t go well and prepare for what’s coming,” Schoene said. “By watching film, figuring out what spots are going to work, what hits are going to go down and what parts of the court we need to defend. So we can be prepared.”
Following next weekend’s tournament, the Bulldogs will begin conference play.
The Bulldogs head to Western Illinois next weekend for their final non-conference tournament. They will play Southeast Missouri State, Western Illinois and Weber State.