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Volleyball wins key conference matchups against Southern Illinois, Missouri State

Bradley’s volleyball team celebrates against Missouri St. Photo courtesy of Bradley Athletics.

The Bradley women’s volleyball team opened up a short two-game homestand at Renaissance Coliseum. In a strong showing, the Braves beat conference opponents on back-to-back nights: Southern Illinois on Oct. 1 and Missouri State on Oct. 2. Paired with a win against Drake the previous weekend, Bradley has now rattled off three victories in a row. 

According to head coach Carol Price-Torok, Renaissance Coliseum and its occupants are “second to none,” and played an important role in the two Bradley wins on Homecoming weekend. 

“Our facility is one of the best in the conference, no doubt,” Price-Torok said. “It’s pretty phenomenal; our home-court crowd and the way that our fans really rally behind our players is something very special.” 

Down two sets to one in their match against Southern Illinois, the Braves responded with a dominating 25-10 set victory to force a fifth set. Bradley completed the comeback and broke the tie with a 15-10 win in the final frame. 

Senior outside hitter Hannah Thompson recorded a team-high 17 kills alongside 18 digs and three assists. Senior setter Kora Kauling was all over the stat sheet as well, leading Bradley with 43 assists, while also posting nine kills, two aces and four blocks. 

“We started doing a little bit of a different offense, and we were working through that against Drake and it became a lot more successful,” Kauling said. “Me and [junior Carlee Camlin] switch off who’s setting while we’re in the game, instead of just subbing us out. It gives us more options based on where we’re struggling to score.” 

The following night, the Braves continued to implement their new offense and finished off Missouri State in four sets in a hard-fought effort. The Braves narrowly took the first set 25-23 and the third set by a score of 26-24. 

However, the fourth set was all Braves, as they secured a 25-12 win and upped their win streak to three matches. Kauling led the team in assists (33) and blocks (3) along with 15 kills. 

“Missouri State definitely has a different style than Southern Illinois, so it’s nice to be able to win back-to-back matches but also execute on a high level against someone who is really competitive,” Price-Torok said. “I’m proud that they were able to sustain some of those runs and match some of those rallies, and I just think we’re in a really great rhythm.” 

With her performance in the two contests, freshman Silan Demirkol of Istanbul, Turkey, earned Missouri Valley Conference Freshman of the Week honors. The two games were Demirkol’s first on the court in a Bradley uniform, and she averaged 2.5 kills and 0.38 aces per set as well as recording a team-high 20 digs in the game against Missouri State.

The Braves will get an opportunity to extend the win streak to five games this weekend, with road games on Oct. 8 against Evansville and Oct. 9 at Indiana State. 

“Those are definitely two tough places to play, with really great volleyball atmosphere gyms, really tight-knit gyms that really lend for it to be chaotic and loud,” Price-Torok said. “I think that it’s pretty awesome to play there, so we’ve just got to make sure we are maintaining and executing our game plan.”

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