Bradley volleyball made its final road trip of the season last weekend, taking on conference opponents Drake and Northern Iowa. The Braves lost both matches bringing their conference record to 2-15 and overall record to 7-21.
Against Drake, senior Kelsey Cave had 17 kills while sophomore Erica Haslag turned in her team-best seventh double-double of the year. Cave and Haslag’s efforts were not enough, however, as Bradley lost to the Bulldogs in four sets.
Bradley led for a good portion of the first set and had it squared 24-24. A Bradley attack error turned out to be costly and resulted in Drake taking the set 26-24.
After dominating the second set, the Braves dropped the final two sets 25-18 and 25-15.
Haslag’s 12 kills in the match boosted her season total to 311, giving her the most kills in a season by a Brave since 2013. In addition, she became the first Bradley underclassman with 300 kills and 200 digs in a season since 2000.
During the Braves final road game of the season, Cave had a team-best 11 kills and also added two blocks, but once again, it was not enough as Northern Iowa defeated Bradley convincingly, 25-11, 25-19 and 25-17.
As the year comes to a close, so too does head coach Carol Price-Torok’s first season on the Hilltop. After tomorrow’s match, she will have had a full year of experience being head coach and has gained the trust of her players.
“I think that she’s a phenomenal coach,” freshman Erin Olson said. “She pushes us really hard and I love it. Her expectations are really high, so we all want to rise to the challenge.”
The young team also notched another year of experience under its belt and have learned a lot about leadership this season.
“Just from the beginning of this season to the end, we’ve made leaps and bounds in terms of our progress,” Olson said. “I think that the recruits coming here will definitely help, and the core group that is already here will be looking forward to getting back at it next season.”
From Cave’s perspective, a senior who was here before Price-Torok, she said she believes that if anyone is going to turn around as well as redefine the culture of the program, Price-Torok is the person for the job.
“She’s very passionate about our team and program, and I have no doubt that she’s going to do whatever it takes help the team be successful,” Cave said.
Bradley will close out the 2016 season, which will also be the team’s senior night, tomorrow against Loyola at 5 p.m. at the Renaissance Coliseum.
For Cave, she could not ask for anything more than to end her career with a win.
“Going out with a win would be fantastic,” Cave said. “We really have been working hard all season and to have all that be payed off in the last match of not only the season but my career would be special.”
As for the rest of the team, they want the same thing as Cave.
“It would be phenomenal to send those three out with a win; they have done so much for the program and pushed us so hard this year and really have been the backbone of the team,” Olson said.