The Bradley volleyball team maintained their third place spot in the Missouri Valley Conference standings, adding one win during their weekend road trip to Indiana State and Evansville.
On Friday, the Braves took on Evansville and came away with a closely contested five-set victory. After Bradley took the first two sets, the Aces won two consecutive sets to force a fifth. All five sets were decided by four or less points (25-23, 25-23, 21-25, 22-25, 15-13).
Senior Erica Haslag led the team with 24 kills, sophomore Sara Maddox added 13 kills and four blocks and freshman Hannah Thompson contributed with 10 kills and 19 digs.
The win was Bradley’s 19th, their highest total since 2002. The victory also improved their MVC record to 9-3, the first time they hit the nine-win conference win mark since 2005 when the team finished 9-9.
The team then traveled to Terre Haute for a Saturday night matchup with Indiana State. After losing the first two sets in extra points, the Braves took the third but were unable to complete the comeback as they fell short in the fourth set. Again, all sets were decided by four or less points (27-29, 26-28, 25-21, 24-26).
Haslag led the team with 28 kills, her season high. Thompson posted 18 kills and 18 digs for her team leading 15th double-double. Her performance broke the previous school record for double-doubles by a freshman (set by Marika Giguere in 2000).
“We need to continue to keep our confidence up knowing that we are good enough to be at the top of the conference,” Haslag said. “I try to keep that in the head of my teammates. We also are going through this with the mindset that we just have to forget about the loss.”
The loss snapped a three-game winning streak for the Braves and is their first loss since Oct. 15 at Illinois State. Despite the loss, Bradley maintains a one game lead over Valparaiso for third place in the Valley.
With the win, the Sycamores snapped a four-game losing streak and improve their conference record to 2-11.
“Indiana State played really great,” head coach Carol Price-Torok said. “I think we just couldn’t get everybody firing on all cylinders, but it’s great to see that we were still fighting even though we felt like we weren’t playing our best volleyball.”
After her back-to-back double-double performance, Thompson was named the MVC Freshman of the Week. This is the third consecutive week she’s won the award and the fifth time this season.
The Braves return home at 7 p.m. tonight for a match up with conference leading Northern Iowa. The Panthers boast a 12-0 conference record and a No. 25 national ranking heading into the game.
“I think [the team] is up for the challenge,” said Price-Torok. “They’re going in there with a bit of chip on their shoulder. Nobody’s knocked them off, so you’re really excited to have the opportunity to be the team that does that. We just want to keep fighting and proving ourselves to this conference and continue to garner respect.”
“I believe that we should go into the UNI game like we have nothing to lose because we don’t,” Haslag said. “We could potentially crack their undefeated MVC spread so they should be the one’s nervous.”
Bradley will then take on Drake at 7 p.m. Saturday night as they look to avenge their four-set loss against the Bulldogs in their first matchup of the season.