It isn’t often an indoor volleyball match is delayed because of weather.
Such was the case not once, but twice on Sept 27, as Bradley and Southern Illinois felt the effect of a strong storm outbreak that rocked Central Illinois. Two seperate tornado warnings in Peoria County forced evacuations of Renaissance Coliseum, stopping the match for a total of roughly 45 minutes.
When all was said and done – nearly three-and-a-half hours after first serve – Bradley opened conference play with a five-set loss to SIU, the first of three Missouri Valley Conference matches in a four-day span.
“I think all the distractions have a little bit of an impact,” Bradley head coach Carol Price-Torok said. “In a way, I think it was good for us. It put us through a bit of adversity… it did throw off our rhythm a bit, but that’s no excuse.”
Everybody in the building, coaches and players included, were sent into the basement of the arena during the warnings. The delays added to an already lengthy match, in which Bradley and SIU alternated set wins before the Salukis ultimately prevailed in the fifth.
Bradley senior setter Hannah Angeli left the match in the fourth set with what Price-Torok described as a knee injury. Though the injury is not considered season-ending, it was serious enough to force Angeli’s absence in the Braves’ subsequent matches against Missouri State and Indiana State.
“We all really wanted to play for Hannah since it’s her senior season,” junior libero Emma Raleigh said. “She always gives it her all, and even when she was on the bench she was.
Bradley ran a 6-2 formation during the matches against Missouri State and Indiana State with multiple underclassmen stepping up to make in impact in Angeli’s absence.
“We had a freshman and a sophomore come in to run a 6-2 and they both were ready to take it on,” Raleigh said. “We just hyped them up and we all just over-communicated. A few of us had to step up to fill Hannah Angeli’s shoes because she has such a big presence on the court.”
Sophomore setter Haley Delacher notched 30 assists in Saturday’s four-set win over Missouri State, while freshmen middles Karagan Coggin and Raeann Bergman combined for 16 kills to pace the Braves’ offensive attack.
Coggin also collected 13 kills in Monday’s match against Indiana State, which the Braves won in four sets. Raleigh and Delacher combined for 22 digs in the victory.
“Our setters are really doing a great job of pushing our middles and taking some of the pressure off of our pins,” Price-Torok said of Monday’s triumph. “It really opens it up for a lot of people. Our passing did a really great job of communicating. They were really going after our outsides, and they held really strong from a passing standpoint.”
The Braves’ focus now turns to tonight’s homecoming match against Illinois State, with first serve scheduled for 6 p.m. at Renaissance Coliseum.
“We’re all really excited to play Illinois State,” Raleigh said. “It’s a big rivalry game. They’re supposed to be really good this year and we’re supposed to be really good this year, so we’re all really excited to play them.”