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Trending upward: After a 10-22 season, volleyball confident in contending sooner rather than later

Outside hitter Jamie Livaudais (left) finished her senior campaign with 246 points and 224 kills.
Photo by Kayla Johnson

For the fourth consecutive season, the Bradley volleyball team missed out on the Missouri Valley Conference tournament after finishing their 2017 campaign with a mark of 3-15 in conference play. The Braves’ final match of the year came on Nov. 18 against Indiana State as Bradley fell in a three-set sweep.

Despite not seeing a substantial increase in the win column, head coach Carol Price-Torok said she is happy with the way her team continues to progress from season to season since taking the reins of the program in 2016.

“I think we made great strides from a team standpoint this year,” Price-Torok said. “I was just looking at stats, and the amount of times we pushed teams to three sets was a lot more than last year, so from that standpoint, it’s nice to know that we’re continuing to make strides and continuing to battle.”

Though Bradley finished last in the MVC, Price-Torok said she believes the gap between her squad and the teams among the top of the conference is marginal.

“I think we’re really close to being contenders,” Price-Torok said. “This year in conference five through 10 were all beating up on each other all season, and a win here and a win there really turns the tide.”

Next season, one advantage that Bradley will have is chemistry. With the Braves only graduating two members of this year’s squad, Jamie Livaudais and Taylor Thiele, the team will be one of the most experienced in the MVC.

Price-Torok said the program will still miss the intangibles that both of the seniors brought with them on and off the court.

“Jamie Livaudais and Taylor Thiele were astronomical from day one of coming in here,” Price-Torok said. “They bought in to the culture of working hard, doing things the right way and not cutting corners. Taylor kept us composed on the court, and Jamie was a really great leader, as well, so we’re going to miss them both.”

When she came to Bradley, Price-Torok said she had the goal of turning the program into one that competes year in and year out for conference titles and believes next year can be the start.

“My expectation is that we go to the conference tournament consistently. I think that’s going to be a staple as we move forward with this program,” Price-Torok said. “I think we have a lot of momentum heading into the offseason, and come next year, we’ll be striving to make the conference tournament.”