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Braves’ volleyball starts conference play in weekend split

Bradley’s volleyball convenes after a point. Photo courtesy of Josh Schwam/Bradley Athletics

After falling to Northern Iowa and defeating Drake last weekend to open Missouri Valley Conference play, Bradley volleyball is set to host Southern Illinois and Missouri State in its first home matches of the conference season. 

The Braves kicked off their MVC slate with a 25-20, 25-18, 25-14 loss in Cedar Rapids on Sept. 24, continuing a road losing streak at Northern Iowa that dates back to 2007. 

Junior Serena Sparks led the team with 14 digs, while senior standout Hannah Thompson collected a team-high eight kills. However, the Braves couldn’t overcome a ferocious Panthers attack that collected 49 kills and 47 assists in the three-set triumph. 

One night later, the Braves bounced back in a big way with a victory at Drake. 

Thompson and junior Karagan Coggin keyed a close 25-23, 26-24, 22-25, 25-22 win with 15 kills apiece, while sophomore Doga Topcicek was close behind with 14 kills. Senior Kora Kauling and junior Carlee Camlin facilitated the offense by combining for 59 of the Braves’ 63 assists. 

Thompson was everywhere on the court in the victory, adding 25 digs to pace the category, along with 15 kills. After this weekend, Thompson passed Jenna Passman for eighth in career kills at Bradley. 

Bradley has enjoyed success at Renaissance Coliseum ahead of this weekend’s homestand. The Braves registered wins against North Dakota and Northern Colorado on Sept. 17 toward the end of their non-conference schedule. 

Tonight’s 7 p.m. match with Southern Illinois marks the fourth time in the last six seasons that the Salukis have been the opponent for the Braves’ first MVC home match. The last time that happened, on Sept. 27, 2019, the Salukis won a memorable five-set match that included two delays caused by nearby tornadoes. 

Southern Illinois enters the weekend in search of their first MVC win after falling in four sets to Valparaiso and Loyola-Chicago on Sept. 24 and Sept. 25. Missouri State had better results, defeating Valpo on Sept. 25 after losing to the Ramblers the day prior. 

Missouri State will play Illinois State tonight before facing Bradley at 4 p.m. tomorrow.

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