PEORIA, Ill. -- Fresh off a three-set victory against Evansville, the Bradley volleyball team wraps up a season-long, four-match home stand this weekend with home contests against I-74 rival Illinois State (Friday) and Indiana State (Saturday). Both matches will start at 7 p.m. at Renaissance Coliseum.
Friday's match against Illinois State (11-8 overall, 5-4 MVC) will be Faculty/Staff Appreciation Night with all Bradley faculty & staff receiving four free tickets to the game (valid Bradley ID required). The Braves (7-13 overall, 1-8 MVC) look to avenge a four-set loss to the Redbirds suffered back on Sept. 22.
Bradley's annual Dig Pink event will be Saturday, when the Braves host Indiana State (3-16 overall, 1-8 MVC). Fans are encouraged to wear pink to the match and pre-registered breast cancer survivors will receive free admission by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. In addition, donations will be accepted for Susan G. Komen for the Cure.
The weekend contests open the second-half of Missouri Valley Conference play and wrap up Bradley's longest Missouri Valley Conference home stand since 2004. Following Saturday's matchup with the Sycamores, the Braves will play five of the final seven regular-season games on the road.
BU is looking to snap a three-match losing streak in the series with Illinois after falling in four sets at Redbird Arena earlier this season. Bradley enters the weekend tied with Indiana State in the Valley standings after the Sycamores pulled out a four-set win against the Braves in Terre Haute, Ind., on Sept. 21, in BU's first conference road match of the year.
Indiana State and Bradley have split the regular-season series each of the last two years and three of the last four seasons overall. The home squad has won each of the last five matchups in the series. The Braves are 20-6 all-time in home matches against the Sycamores, including a 2-0 mark at Renaissance Coliseum.
Junior middle blocker Amy Angelos (Waukegan, Ill./Waukegan) is averaging 2.94 kills per set in five career matches against Illinois State, after notching 13 kills at Redbird Arena earlier this year. In addition, she boasts a .293 career attack percentage against Indiana State. Angelos had 16 kills, while hitting .583 in the matchup vs. the Sycamores in Terre Haute in September.
Sophomore Courtney Keefe (Lemont, Ill./Lemont) is coming off back-to-back doubles and has reached double figures in both kills and digs in three of the last four outings. Over the last five matches she is averaging 2.60 kills and 3.00 digs per set, helped by season highs of 12 kills and 18 digs Friday against Southern Illinois. Keefe, who averaged 1.54 kills and 2.59 digs per set over the first 15 matches of the season, needs seven kills to join Briony Hammet as the only BU players in the last decade to collect 150 kills and 200 digs in back-to-back seasons.
Junior libero Lauren Zerante (Elmhurst, Ill./York) has climbed to fourth in the MVC in digs, averaging 5.23 digs per set in league play. Averaging 5.65 digs per set over the last four outings, Zerante has topped 20 digs in four consecutive matches and 10 times overall this year. Her 10 matches with 20 or more digs are the most in a season since 2005 and Zerante is the first player since at least the 1991 season to have four straight matches with 20 or more digs. She is 46 digs from tallying the first 400-dig season at Bradley since 2008.