Courtesy: Missouri Valley Conference
With just two conference weekends remaining, three of the six teams set to participate in the 2018 Missouri Valley Conference Volleyball Championship have already been locked up, while the final three spots and seeding is still up for grabs during the final two weeks of the regular season.
Illinois State (14-1 MVC), UNI (13-1 MVC) and Bradley (10-5 MVC) have already punched their tickets to the MVC Volleyball Championship, while Valparaiso (9-5 MVC), Missouri State (8-6 MVC) and Loyola (7-7 MVC) currently occupy the final three spots.
Drake is also alive for a tournament spot, but currently sits seventh in the standings with a 5-9 league record.
Illinois State at Loyola (ESPN+)……… 4 PM*
Evansville at Indiana State (ESPN+).. 5 PM*
Missouri State at UNI (ESPN+)………. 6 PM*
Southern Illinois at Drake (ESPN+)… 7 PM*
Bradley at Valparaiso (ESPN3)………. 7 PM*
Showdown at the Top
Illinois State topped nationally-ranked UNI on Saturday night to finish the 2018 home slate with a perfect 9-0 record. Last season, the Panthers visited Redbird Arena with the same national rank – No. 25 – and the Redbirds handed UNI a five-set loss, similarly to this weekend. The Redbirds have now posted a winning record at Redbird Arena in eight of the last nine seasons. Both teams sit atop the standings with only one league loss.
MVC Career Digs Watch
Illinois State senior Courtney Pence sits second on the all-time MVC career digs list and is just four 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 sits seventh on the list.
1. 2,656 – Ellie Blankenship, UNI 2007-10
2. 2,653 – Courtney Pence, Illinois State 2015-pres.
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 became the first team since Southern Illinois in 2012 to accomplish the feat.
Indiana State 1997
Indiana State 1999
Southern Illinois 2012
20 Win Club
Bradley joined Illinois State and Valparaiso in the 20 win club over the weekend. The Braves last 20-win campaign was 2001 (24-8) and prior to this fall BU had just two 20-win seasons since the MVC went to a double round-robin conference schedule in 1992.
Bradley and Loyola are two of just four teams in the country to have a 10-win improvement from last year through matches of Nov. 5. Joining the Braves and Ramblers in the exclusive group is Stetson (+13) and UNLV (+10).
Bears Heating Up
Missouri State’s four-match winning streak equals its longest of the season, and the Bears have posted impressive numbers over that stretch. MSU has averaged 15.33 kills, 14.67 assists and 18.73 digs per set over its last four wins, figures that would rank 2nd, 2nd, & 4th nationally if done for a full season.
NCAA RPI Report
The latest edition of the NCAA RPI report has been released and The Valley has three teams featured in the top-70. UNI leads the league at No. 15, while Illinois State (No. 34), and Valparaiso (No. 68) are also among the nation’s top-70. Four other teams rank in the Top 130 (Missouri State, Bradley, Drake and Loyola). As a conference, The Valley ranks eighth among 32 conferences.
UNI continues to receive votes in the latest AVCA Top 25 poll this week. The Panthers are receiving 28 votes and sit 28th overall.
The Valley Digs Deep
Currently, the MVC has six teams ranking Top 30 nationally in digs per set, including Bradley leading the MVC with 19.37 per set.
The Valley has led the nation in digs per set three times in the last four seasons (Illinois State in 2014, UNI in 2016 and Valparaiso in 2017).
Digs per Set
2. Bradley 19.37
10. Valparaiso 18.14
18. Drake 17.56
19. Illinois State 17.51
27. UNI 17.30
30. Missouri State 17.20
1,000 Kill Club
UNI’s Karlie Taylor recorded her 1,000th career kill over the weekend, becoming the seventh active player in the Missouri Valley Conference with over 1,000 career kills.
MVC players rank on NCAA active list:
9. Erica Haslag, Bradley, 1,558
16. Piper Thomas, UNI, 1,467
69. Katherine Carlson, Valparaiso, 1,146
72. Allison Ketcham, Valparaiso, 1,125
83. Mildrelis Rodriguez, Evansville, 1,093
94. Gabi Maciagowski, Loyola, 1,071
121. Karlie Taylor, UNI, 1,007