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Volleyball drops another MVC game

The volleyball team suffered a tough loss last weekend, before fighting back to win a five-set match. 
The Braves’ win on Sunday was their ninth of the season, putting their record at 9-10, the team’s best record since 2005. 
The Braves played the University of Northern Iowa, the top team in the Missouri Valley Conference, last Friday. UNI’s 12 aces and strong offense allowed them to take all three of the sets and come on top over the Braves. 
“I thought we did not compete well,” coach Sean Burdette said. “We were put on our heels early and our team did not respond quick enough.” 
UNI started out the first set with a lead of six and was able to stretchIT to 16 points. The Panthers’ four swings and four kills helped them post a 25-10 victory in the opening set. 
The Panthers were able to get another early lead in the second set at 10-2. UNI delivered back-to-back kills with a block that closed the second set 25-16 UNI. 
Back-to-back aces during a four-point spurt helped give the Panthers a strong lead in the third set at 11-4. The Braves were able to pull within five points of UNI, but the Panthers answered back with five consecutive points giving them the advantage at 16-6. The Panthers finished the set with a 6-3 spurt, leaving the set at 25-13. 
Sophomore Annie Cave and senior Amy Reichel led offensive efforts with eight kills each. Team-high honors were given to sophomores Megan Schmidt and Rachelle DeJean who tied with seven digs. 
However, Bradley was able battle back and take the win over Southern Illinois University- Edwardsville in five sets on Sunday. 
“I certainly think you have to be in shape to potentially play (two) five-set matches on a given weekend,” Burdette said. “Our drills in practice help to prepare for those long matches and our players also do extra work outside of practices on their own.” 
SIUE had the lead for all of the second set. The Braves were able to pull within two points near the end of the set at 23-21 but a Bradley attack error gave SIUE a three-point advantage at 24-21. Cave was able to pull the Braves within two points with a kill, but a SIUE kill gave the Cougars a 25-22 win.
Bradley was behind for most of the second set until back-to-back kills from Reichel tied the score at 23-23. 
Reichel delivered her eighth kill in the second frame to pull the Braves ahead and give them the 25-23 win. 
The third set saw 10 ties and three lead changes. When the score was 23-23, SIUE’s Jessica Hemann had a kill that was followed by a Bradley attack error, which ended the set at 25-23 SIUE.
The fourth set was also back and fourth with 14 ties and nine lead changes. The Cougars held the lead at 23-22 after a Bradley attack error. Freshman Skylar Lesan delivered a kill to tie the set. SIUE had two attack errors, which allowed the Braves to post the 25-23 win.
The Cougars started the fifth set with the lead at 4-1. Bradley was able to battle back to 13-11, and then the Braves had a three-point spurt to give them the lead at 14-13. An SIUE kill tied the score, but Bradley was able to force the Cougars into two attack errors, giving them the win at 16-14.
“I thought it was a back-and-forth match and I was proud of how our players reacted to some stressful points, long rallies and fighting back from being behind a few points,” Burdette said.
The Braves will be away next weekend playing two Missouri Valley Conference matches at Illinois State and Indiana State. 
“I think our team has worked hard to build off of last year’s success and we are taking each match one at a time,” Burdette said. “We are looking to move up the MVC ladder next in standings. We will have to have great competition in practice from all of our players to take the next step.”
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