Bradley volleyball took on the top two teams in the Missouri Valley Conference last weekend in Missouri State and Wichita State. While the Braves may have dropped both of the matches, and brought their record to 7-19, the team has no reason to hang their heads, according to head coach Carol Price-Torok.
“We had some really great highs in both matches and played some really long rallies, so now we just need to execute on a higher level so we can turn those rallies into points for us,” Price-Torok said. “The great things about playing teams at the top of our conference is that’s the direction we want to go and that’s where we want to be as a program, so it allows us to see what we need to do to get there.”
Against Wichita State, the preseason MVC favorite, junior Jamie Livaudais had a team-best nine kills and moved up two spots on Bradley’s career kills list, while freshman Erin Olson turned in her fifth double-double of the year.
The Braves hung with the Shockers in the third set and fought off a pair of match points with kills by Livaudais and sophomore Erica Haslag, keeping the score close. Ultimately, though, it was not enough for the Braves, as they fell in straight sets 25-18, 25-14, 25-20.
The results were much of the same for the Braves against Missouri State, who defeated Bradley 25-17, 25-19, 25-15 for their 11th straight win, keeping the Bears atop the conference standings. Haslag turned in her team-best sixth double-double of the year, finishing with 10 kills and 12 digs.
Once again, Bradley had a competitive third set, which featured seven ties and four lead changes, but Missouri State proved to be too tough for the Braves.
When Price-Torok took over the team earlier this year, one of her main goals was to build up the program. As her first year winds down, she said she feels as though the team is trending in the right direction.
“The girls that are here have done a great job at buying in, which is a big part of it,” Price-Torok said. “We’re going to continue to add pieces to the core group that we already have and with the recruiting class we have coming in it’s an exciting time for Bradley volleyball.”
While the team only has one more win than they did last season, Price-Torok is confident they’ve made great strides, even if it has not been reflected in the win-loss column yet.
“Winning is the easiest affirmation of what you’re doing is correct, and for us it’s just the mindset that we’re not going to give up or give in because we have seen great strides in our play and what we’re doing on a day-to-day basis,” Price-Torok said. “We’re going to continue to work and we want to send our three seniors, Kelsey Cave, Kayla Rymer and Rachel Jones, out on a high note. [We want to] let them know that their efforts here the last four years is not for nothing and that we appreciate everything they’ve done for the program.”
Bradley will open its final road swing of the season at 5 p.m. tonight against Drake in Des Moines, Iowa and then finish it up at Northern Iowa at 7 p.m. Saturday.