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Bradley volleyball looks to put non-conference play behind them

Karagan Coggin prepares for the spike. Photo courtesy of Bradley Athletics

In the finale of non-conference play last weekend, the Bradley volleyball team (4-8) took one of three games in their second home tournament of the season. This past weekend in the CEFCU Classic, Bradley took a match against St. Thomas but fell to Western Michigan and IUPUI.

“The three teams were pretty comparable for what the talent level is,” head coach Alicia Williams said. “I think the difference became consistency and execution.”

The Braves lost 3-1 to a solid Western Michigan Broncos team, which posted a .258 hitting percentage compared to Bradley’s .167 percentage. Bradley freshman Kendall Minta recorded 11 points and seven total blocks, both team highs.

Minta has seen a heavy uptick in playing time with her great blocking ability on defense as well as racking up a healthy amount of kills on the offensive end.

“It’s been exciting to see the impact at the next level,” Minta said. “It’s obviously a challenge, but relying on my team [has] made me feel comfortable.”

In Bradley’s five-set win over St. Thomas, senior Karagan Coggin had 10 kills points and six total blocks, both of which were season highs. Sophomore Silan Demirkol recorded 20 digs and 11.5 points. A surprise standout was sophomore Kaylenn Hunt, who recorded 10 points with nine of them coming from kills.

In the weekend’s final game, Bradley fell 3-2 to IUPUI in a very tight match. Both teams traded sets up until the fifth where the Jaguars won 15-12. Demirkol led the way for the Red and White with 11 kills while Coggin and junior Abby Johnson added 10 kills. Senior Carlee Camlin had a season high 28 assists.

In some tightly-contested matchups, Williams thinks the team has a good mix of young and old that are contributing to the squad.

“They are very responsible and they understand what we need to do,” Williams said. “I think we’re all trying to learn what that physically looks like, and we’re getting to know each other a little bit more and where we need to push to take action.”

The Braves matched up against numerous tough teams in their non-conference schedule. This included two ranked opponents (No. 21 Western Kentucky and No. 11 Purdue) and strong programs like Utah and Western Michigan.

“If you can compete with the best of the best, then you can compete in conference play,” Minta said. “We have shown some really good things against some of these really impressive teams.”

Bradley opens up conference play on the road against Indiana State on Friday and Evansville on Saturday. They return home to meet new Valley opponent Illinois-Chicago on Sept. 30.

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