By, HANNAH COHEN
Drake volleyball took on Southern Illinois (MVC 1-14) and Missouri State (MVC 9-7) this past weekend to add one win and one loss to their conference record, giving them an average of .400 with six wins and 10 losses. In their first match of the weekend on Friday, the Bulldogs took away a 3-0 shutout.
“It was good for us to get some momentum back,” Cathryn Cheek, outside hitter, said. “It was great getting a win and taking a sweep, getting back into our rhythm.”
Cheek, Emily Plock, opposite hitter, Elle Tubbs and Natalie Fry, middle blockers, led the team getting over 10 points each adding to a combined total of 53 points. All percents of team attacks per set were over 60 percent to give them an advantage over the Salukis.
“[Teamwork] is something that we really stress, especially this year,” Grace Schofield, outside hitter, said. “We know that we are good individual players, but that doesn’t really matter when we’re out on the court it takes all of us working together to get that.”
Missouri State took the first set in a close score of 25-22. The bears maintained the lead for the majority of the set, leaving Drake closely trailing behind in a heated set.
“I think we have been really trying to push hard in the middle of the sets,” Cheek said. “We really focus on coming out strong because Missouri State’s coming out strong. They sided out faster than we did which in the end hurt us.”
The second set proved more difficult for Drake with Missouri State taking it 25-19. Despite Drake’s effort, the Bears kept the lead throughout the whole set and the Bulldogs only tied it up once.
“It’s definitely frustrating, but we have to go back to the same mindset every point,” Schofield said. “[We still have to focus and] work to get a pass, work to get a set, work to get a swing and a cover. If we keep doing those little things, then we know the outcomes will change eventually.”
In the third, both teams stepped it up with increased points and the Bulldogs attack percentage increased by .2 while the Bear’s declined by .1; however, their overall percentage remained higher than Drake (.252-.192). This set was consistently close and a back-to-back rally exchange per each team.
“We really couldn’t get anything going,” Schofield said. “We needed more offense from our middles and our right sides and we weren’t able to get that whether it was due to our passes or us not getting them the ball enough. We just needed everybody to step up a little bit more.”
Drake captured the third set 25-23 to keep the Bulldogs alive. They kept the lead for most of this set, only letting Missouri State take the lead twice, leaving them to try and catch up. Even though the Bears kept their higher team attack percentage by six points, the Bulldogs won this set with Cheek, Schofield and Tubbs, Drake’s top three scorers of the match.
“In the third set it’s go time,” Cheek said. “It’s now or never. In the first two sets, if you lose you still have a chance. But with the third set, if you don’t take it, you don’t have any chance to go further.”
Starting the fourth set off strong, the Bulldogs got the first two points. The first 10 points were another constant battle for the lead between both teams until Missouri State got a 14-10 point lead. Drake lost this set by 10 with a score of 15-25.
“I think we did a pretty good job of responding by coming back and making it close to the very end,” Cheek said.
After the match, Drake honored its three seniors Cheek, Schofield and Sara Jensen, setter, by giving them flowers and having their families come onto the court with some words from Coach McBroom. According to their teammates, they all three played a vital part needed this season in Drake volleyball.
“Sara is so selfless and Grace and Cat are such great leaders,” Plock said. “[Grace’s] personality has changed Drake volleyball to what it is today and Cat has a similar personality, so them coming together brought us here and hopefully we can keep their attitude going.”
The Bulldogs head on the road this week to face Indiana State (MVC 3-13) and Evansville (MVC 3-13) this coming Friday and Saturday. These two upcoming games could represent whether or not Drake makes the conference tournament.
“We have to win our next two games,” Schofield said. “Depending on the outcome of that, there still may be a chance to get to the tournament. Even if there’s not, we’re still treating every game like it’s our last. We just want to go in, work hard and have fun together.”
PHOTO OF DRAKE VOLLEYBALL TEAM | PHOTO BY HANNAH COHEN