Courtesy: Missouri Valley Conference
UNI holds a one game lead over Valparaiso and Illinois State after the third week of league play. The Redbirds will welcome Valpo to Normal for a 6PM match on Friday in a battle of second place teams. Bradley occupies the fourth spot in the standings at 4-2, while Drake, Loyola and Missouri State all sit at 3-3 entering this week’s action.
Monday, October 8
Indiana State at Drake (ESPN3)….. 6 PM*
Evansville at UNI (ESPN+)……………. 7 PM*
Alone at the Top
UNI remains unbeaten in MVC action after another perfect week of league play, sitting at 6-0. Last season, UNI opened MVC action 7-0, before dropping a 3-1 decision to eventual league champion Missouri State. The Panthers have only dropped two sets in league play, posting a 18-2 mark in conference sets.
UNI’s RPI improved four spots to No. 16 this week. The Panthers are one of only four teams nationally to have seven matches against teams ranked in the Top 25 of the RPI, joining Texas, USC and Creighton. UNI is also one of only 17 teams nationally to have at least two Top 25 RPI wins and is the only one not ranked in the AVCA Top 25 poll. UNI’s schedule is rated as the 6th toughest nationally.
UNI continues to receive votes in this week’s AVCA Top 25 poll. The Panthers are receiving 39 points in the poll and sit 26th overall entering this week’s action.
Valpo’s Best Start
Valpo improved to 18-3 overall and 5-1 in MVC play with Friday night’s win over Loyola, joining the 2004 team as the only teams in program history to sit at 18-3 through 21 matches. Valpo is one of just two teams in the nation with at least 18 victories, sitting just behind the 19 wins of Stephen F. Austin.
Redbirds Keeping Pace
For the second-consecutive year, Illinois State has opened its conference slate with a 5-1 record after splitting at UNI and Drake this weekend. The win over the Bulldogs was the first for Illinois State in three seasons after dropping both contests to Drake during the 2016 and 2017 seasons.
NCAA RPI Report
The latest edition of the NCAA RPI report has been released and The Valley has four teams featured in the top-100. UNI leads the league at No. 16, while Valparaiso (No. 53), Illinois State (No. 61) and Drake (No. 87) are also among the nation’s top-100. Three other teams rank in the Top 150 (Loyola, Missouri State and Bradley). As a conference, The Valley ranks eighth among 32 conferences.
Bradley freshman outside hitter Hannah Thompson is the only freshman in the country to collect at least 210 kills, 250 digs and 20 or more blocks on the year. Thompson owns a team-best nine double-doubles on the year, which are tied for the most by a Bradley frosh since Marika Giguere had 14 in 2000.
Stokes Moving Up List
A week after earning her 500th career win, Melissa Stokes is now one victory away from tying for second in MVC history in overall victories. Stokes, who already owns the most MVC wins of any league coach with 292, currently trails UNI’s Iradge Ahrabi-Fard’s 503 total wins by one. Linda Dollar, who racked up 758 victories at Missouri State from 1972-95, sits atop the list.
All-Time MVC Coaches – Wins
Coach, School (Years) W-L-T
1. Linda Dollar, Missouri State (1972-95) 758-266-21
2. Iradge Ahrabi-Fard, UNI (1981-96;98-00) 503-142-4
3. Melissa Stokes, Missouri St. (1996-present) 502-237
4. Bobbi Petersen, UNI (1997; 01-present) 473-147
Loyola’s Gabi Maciagowski became the first Rambler since Morgan Reardon in 2016 to record her 1,000th career kill when she drilled her eighth of the match in last Friday’s loss at Valparaiso.
Evansville’s Mildrelis Rodriguez became the sixth active MVC player to enter the 1,000-kill club with her sixth kill against Missouri State Saturday.
MVC Career Digs Watch
Illinois State senior Courtney Pence moved into second on the all-time MVC career digs list over the weekend, while Missouri State’s Emily Butters moved up to 4th on the all-time list. UNI’s Kendyl Sorge moved into 10th on the list, eclipsing 2,000 digs for her career and passing Amie Held for the second-most in UNI history.
1. 2,656 – Ellie Blankenship, UNI 2007-10
2. 2,435 – Courtney Pence, Illinois State 2015-pres.
3. 2,423 – Alana Wittenburg, Drake 2007-10
4. 2,223 – Emily Butters, Missouri State 2015-pres.
5. 2,215 – Katie Klages, Evansville 2010-13
6. 2,202 – Kelly Broussard, Wichita State 2005-08
7. 2,095 – Julie Walroth, Evansville 2004-07
8. 2,060 – Kasey Mollerus, Illinois State 2006-09
9. 2,055 – Jule Groves, Evansville 1997-00
10. 2,003 – Kendyl Sorge, UNI 2015-pres.
11. 2,002 – Amie Held, UNI 2013-16