Courtesy: Missouri Valley Conference
#25 UNI and Illinois State have each secured a spot in the six-team MVC Volleyball Tournament which will be held at Missouri State November 22-24. Bradley, Valparaiso, Loyola and Missouri State currently occupy the final four spots in the tournament race with three weeks remaining during the regular season.
Southern Illinois at Loyola (ESPN3)… 7 p.m. ET*
Missouri State at Valparaiso (ESPN+) 7 p.m. ET*
Chicago State at Drake (ESPN3)……….. 8 p.m. ET
Perfection in League Play
#25 UNI remains unbeaten in MVC action after another perfect week of league play, sitting at 12-0. The last time UNI opened MVC play 12-0, they went on to finish 18-0 in league play in 2011, which was the program’s third straight 18-0 MVC campaign.
UNI’s 12-0 league start matches seven others who have started with 12 or more consecutive league wins in 2018. 15 NCAA teams are still unbeaten in their respective leagues (through Oct. 28).
NCAA Teams With Perfect League Marks
13-0 Texas State
12-0 Stanford, BYU, Minnesota, UNI, Creighton, SFA, American
11-0 UCF, Denver, VCU
10-0 Kentucky, Rice
9-0 Stony Brook, Howard
UNI jumped back into the AVCA Top 25 poll this week, appearing at No. 25. The Panthers are tied with Tennessee for the 25th spot in the poll. It is the second time the Panthers have been ranked this season, appearing at No. 17 in the Aug. 27 poll.
Illinois State is sitting at 20-5 overall and is currently riding an eight-match win streak. The last time the Redbirds held a similar record at this point in their season was in 2014, when Illinois State was 20-5 through its first 25 matches, before finishing the season 27-6. Prior to the 2014 campaign, the Redbirds’ best start in their first 25 matches dates back to the 1992 season, when Illinois State was sitting at 22-3 and finished the year with a 30-4 mark.
Battle of the Best
A big match-up is coming up this weekend between Illinois State and UNI at Redbird Arena. Both teams will face Drake and Bradley, respectively, on Friday night before a 7 p.m. showdown on Saturday. Both the Panthers and the Redbirds are sitting at No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, in the Valley standings, and a win by Illinois State on Saturday could potentially move the Redbirds a half of a game ahead of UNI – as long as both teams secure a win on Friday evening. UNI holds a 52-26 series edge over the Redbirds, as Illinois State is just 3-7 in its last 10 meetings at home against the Panthers, dating back to the 2009 season.
Bradley and Loyola are two of just three teams in the country to have a nine-win improvement from last year through matches of Oct. 28. Joining the Braves and Ramblers in the exclusive group is Stetson (+10).
Team ‘18 wins ‘17 wins
Stetson 13 3
Bradley 19 10
Loyola 14 5
Only five times in Valley history has a team finished last in the standings the previous year make the MVC Tournament the following season. Bradley is looking to become the first team since Southern Illinois in 2012 to accomplish the feat.
Indiana State 1997
Indiana State 1999
Southern Illinois 2012
NCAA RPI Report
The latest edition of the NCAA RPI report has been released and The Valley has three teams featured in the top-65. UNI leads the league at No. 15, while Illinois State (No. 41), and Valparaiso (No. 62) are also among the nation’s top-65. Four other teams rank in the Top 130 (Loyola, Drake, Bradley and Missouri State). As a conference, The Valley ranks eighth among 32 conferences.
Senior CLASS Award Finalist
Illinois State’s Courtney Pence has been named a finalist for the 2018 Senior CLASS Award. Pence is among 10 NCAA Division I candidates in volleyball for the award which recognizes notable achievements in four areas of excellence – community, classroom, character and competition.
MVC Career Digs Watch
Illinois State senior Courtney Pence sits second on the all-time MVC career digs list and is 63 digs away from becoming the all-time digs leader in Valley history. Missouri State’s Emily Butters continues to sit 4th on the all-time list, while UNI’s Kendyl Sorge moved up to seventh on the list.
1. 2,656 – Ellie Blankenship, UNI 2007-10
2. 2,594 – Courtney Pence, Illinois State 2015-pres.
3. 2,423 – Alana Wittenburg, Drake 2007-10
4. 2,327 – Emily Butters, Missouri State 2015-pres.
5. 2,215 – Katie Klages, Evansville 2010-13
6. 2,202 – Kelly Broussard, Wichita State 2005-08
7. 2,132 – Kendyl Sorge, UNI 2015-pres.