Volleyball Weekly Notebook (Sept. 4)
Valley teams battled through the second week of tournament action in the non-conference portion of the schedule against stiff competition, including ten 2011 NCAA tournament teams and five nationally-ranked opponents, as MVC teams combined to post an even record of 16-16.
The Valley tallied its first win over a top-25 opponent, as Wichita State took down No. 24 Colorado State. The league also earned three wins over 2011 NCAA Tournament teams, including UW-Milwaukee (Bradley), Miami (Illinois State) and Colorado State (Wichita State).
Southern Illinois went undefeated last week, taking home tournament bragging rights for the first time since 2010.
UNI is ranked No. 25 in the latest edition of the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Poll (Sept. 3), while Wichita State is receiving votes (10).
LAST WEEK'S HIGHLIGHTS
Wichita State knocked off the first ranked opponent of the 2012 season in then-No. 24 Colorado State.
Bradley opened the season with five consecutive victories, marking the best start in school history and the team’s 5-1 record is tied for the best start through six matches in program history.
Creighton is also off to a 5-1 start, including two wins over the Big East and one victory each over the Big Ten, WAC and Conference USA.
Southern Illinois left its mark on the Arch winning the 2012 Active Ankle Challenge hosted by Saint Louis University with victories over South Alabama (3-1), Saint Louis (3-1), and Valparaiso (3-0). This is the program's first title since Southern went 3-0 at the UConn Toyota Classic in 2010.
Wichita State has finished in the top-10 nationally in attendance since 2007. The Shockers averaged 2,592 fans per match for the Shocker Volleyball Classic last weekend. WSU had a season-high 2,814 fans against No. 24 Colorado State and followed that up with 2,387 fans against BYU and 2,576 fans against No. 14 Tennessee.
This week's Missouri Valley Conference Players of the Week are Missouri State's Carly Thomas, UNI's Candice Burke and Southern Illinois' Taylor Pippen.
MISSOURI VALLEY CONFERENCE PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Carly Thomas, Jr., S, Missouri State
Thomas set career highs for assists in each of the three match lengths last week, recording 47 in three sets against Austin Peay, 59 in four sets versus UALR and 61 in five sets against Oral Roberts. The junior averaged 12.8 assists per set in four matches, well beyond her MVC-leading average of 11.23 last season, along with 3.53 digs and 1.0 kills on .310 hitting, all while guiding MSU to a .229 team hitting percentage and 15.2 kills per set. Thomas started her weekend with a career-best 61 assists and 14 digs against ORU, then posted 59 assists, eight kills and a career-high 24 digs against Austin Peay, just the 15th match of 50 assists and 20 digs in MSU history and the third of her career. She closed the weekend with 47 assists in a sweep of Austin Peay to earn all-tournament honors at Missouri State’s University Plaza Invitational.
Other Notable Performances: Lauren Zerante, BU; Kelli Browning, CU; Bentley Mancini, DU; Ashley Ring, UE; Brooklyn Hlafka, ILS; Shea Doran, INS; Krista DeGeest, UNI; Alysia Mayes, SIU; Ashley Andrade, WSU.
MISSOURI VALLEY CONFERENCE DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Candice Burke, Sr., DS, UNI
Burke had a good weekend for the Panthers as they took second place at the Luxe City Center Trojan Invitational in Los Angeles, Calif. Burke averaged 5.00 digs per set, tallying 12 digs in UNI’s 3-1 win over Boston College in the first game of the tournament. In the second game she registered 20 digs and two service aces against No. 5 USC. UNI took on Mississippi State in the final match of the Trojan Invite, where Burke had 18 digs and two service aces to help the Panthers sweep the Rebels.
Other Notable Performances: Allie Falter, BU; Kelli Browning, CU; Jadranka Tramslojanin, DU; Jenny Menendez, ILS; Ashlen Buck, INS; Andrea Beaty, MSU; Bailey Yeager, SIU; Ashley Andrade, WSU.
MISSOURI VALLEY CONFERENCE FRESHMAN OF THE WEEK
Taylor Pippen, Fr., MB, Southern Illinois
Pippen made a big impact in the Salukis tournament win at the Active Ankle Challenge. Southern went 3-0 as Pippen compiled 27 kills on the weekend averaging 2.45 per set. The freshman had the second highest team hitting percentage with a .392 hitting clip in three matches. Pippen also had 14 total blocks on the weekend. In the opening match against South Alabama Pippen knocked in 12 kills for an impressive hitting efficiency of .450 to aid SIU in their first win of the tournament.
Other Notable Performances: Melanie Jereb, CU; Cassie Effken, DU; Ashley Rosch, ILS; Victoria Swigart, INS.
This week, the competition remains tough for Valley members as MVC teams will challenge another three ranked opponents and 11 participants in the 2011 NCAA Tournament. UNI will battle No. 18 Iowa State and No. 23 Michigan, while Missouri State will tangle with No. 22 Kansas State.