PEORIA, Ill. -- After sweeping two of its last three opponents, the Bradley volleyball hits the road for matches at Missouri State (Friday) and at Wichita State (Saturday) to open a stretch in which the Braves play five of the next seven matches on the road to close the 2012 regular season.
Bradley (8-14 overall, 2-9 MVC) begins the road swing Friday with a 7 p.m. matchup with Missouri State (11-12 overall, 5-6 MVC) in Springfield, Mo. The Braves moved within one game of seventh in the Valley standings and start the weekend three games back of Missouri State for sixth in the league. The Bears opened Valley play with a 5-2 record, but have dropped four consecutive conference matches heading into Friday's tilt.
Saturday's 7 p.m. match at Wichita State (16-5 overall, 9-2 MVC) is the first of a stretch in which four of the final six opponents have won 16 matches or more this season. The Shockers are third in the MVC standings at 9-2 entering a Friday night home contest against league-leading Northern Iowa (10-1).
BradleyBraves.com will provide links to live stats for both weekend matches. Bradley All-Access subscribers will be able to view Saturday's Wichita State match as part of their subscription package.
The Braves are coming off a convincing three-set sweep of Indiana State Saturday, giving Bradley a pair of 3-0 wins in Missouri Valley Conference play for the first time since 2006. Overall, BU has won 14 sets in Valley play, which is more than both Evansville (12 sets) and Drake (11 sets); who are directly in front of Bradley in the league standings.
Junior Amy Angelos (Waukegan, Ill./Waukegan) had a very successful four-match home stand, averaging 3.08 kills per set while boasting a .392 attack percentage over the last four outings. On the season, Angelos has averaged 2.71 kills per set and has climbed into 23rd on BU's career kills list with 740. She needs 15 kills to pass Lisa Gehlhaar for 22nd (754 kills) in program history.
In addition to Angelos' strong play during the home stand, sophomore Courtney Keefe (Lemont, Ill./Lemont) has also had a hot streak as of late. With double-doubles in three of the last six matches, Keefe has averaged 2.58 kills and 3.35 digs per set over the last seven outings. She joined Briony Hammet as the only Bradley players in the last decade to collect 150 kills and 200 digs in back-to-back seasons.
Fellow sophomore Allie Falter (Lincoln, Neb./Pius X) has pushed her season block average to 0.99 blocks per set and her 84 total blocks rank as the most blocks by a BU individual since Megan Schmidt had 97 blocks in 2008. As a team, Bradley's 1.89 blocks per set is the squad's best average since 2007 and the team's season total of 161 blocks is seven short of the 2010 team's season total.
Junior Lauren Zerante (Elmhurst, Ill./York) continues to adjust in her role as the team's libero and is currently fourth in the MVC with a 5.27 digs-per-set average in league matches. Zerante's 387 digs this season is the highest dig total by a Brave since 2008 and she is 27 digs from the highest total since 2007.
Following the weekend road swing, Bradley returns home for the final home stand of the year. The Braves will host Creighton, Friday, Nov. 2 in addition to Drake, Saturday, Nov. 3 at Renaissance Coliseum.