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Sports Volleyball

Drake women’s volleyball falls in MVC championship

Drake University Women's volleyball team loses after five sets to the UNI Panthers. Photo courtesy of Sarah Fey - sports photographer.

The Drake University women’s volleyball team faced tough competition in the Missouri Valley Conference championship and fell to the University of Northern Iowa Panthers in five sets.

The championship was hosted by Missouri State University in Springfield, Missouri from Nov. 19-22. Drake earned the No. 2 seed in the tournament with a record of 14-4 in conference play and 22-10 overall. Drake played several top teams during the preseason, including Dayton University, Marquette University and the University of California, Santa Barbara, the last of which Drake managed to triumph over 3-0.

“In terms of the teams that we played, it probably was the most challenging schedule in program history,” head coach Darrin McBroom said.

The Bulldogs received a bye for the first two days of tournament play and faced the University of Illinois Chicago Flames in the semifinals on Nov. 21. Despite falling to UIC twice during the regular season with scores of 3-2 on Sept. 29 and 3-1 on Nov. 11, Drake clinched a 3-0 win over the Flames.

“We knew what to do in order to actually have things go our way,” right-side hitter Taylor Oberpriller said. “It was just applying what had happened in previous games.”

Drake lost to UNI twice during the regular season, 3-1 on both Oct. 16 and Nov. 15. In the first two sets of the championship match, UNI won both 25-19. Drake fought for two 25-23 wins in the next two sets, bringing the match to a fifth set. However, Drake was unable to keep up the momentum and fell to UNI 15-6.

Drake also played UNI in the final match of the 2022 MVC championship and fell in five sets as well. Despite the outcome of this year’s match, McBroom is proud of his team for fighting their way back to the finals.

“Credit to our team in that match,” McBroom said. “We lost the first two sets. We were down and out. And then we battled back in the next two, which is impressive. It was anybody’s game, and we came up short.”

Several of Drake’s players have also found individual success throughout the season. Oberpriller, setter Addison Beagle and outside hitter Haley Bush have earned MVC Player of the Week awards. On Nov. 3, Bush became Drake’s all-time leader for most kills, with 1,633 career kills at the time. Additionally, libero Jada Wills was named MVC Libero of the Year.

Several players, including Oberpriller and Bush, are completing their final year of athletic eligibility at Drake.

“I was really worried about a drop off next year,” McBroom said. “But [with] the way that our young players have done so well this year and the kids we have coming in, I think we’re gonna be right back in the fight next season.”

Although Drake did not win the tournament that would’ve guaranteed them an automatic spot in the NCAA championship, they were one of the top runner-ups and qualified for the National Invitational Volleyball Championship. Drake will host the first two rounds in the Knapp Center and play Chicago State University at 6 p.m. on Nov. 29.

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