PEORIA, Ill. -- After opening the season with 10 of the first 14 matches of the 2012 season away from home, the Bradley volleyball team opens a stretch with six of the next eight matches at Renaissance Coliseum Friday with a 7 p.m. match against Wichita State. The Braves will also host Missouri State Saturday at 7 p.m. to open the home heavy slate.
Bradley (6-8 overall, 0-3 MVC) is looking for its first home win of the season and first Missouri Valley Conference victory of the year after suffering a pair of four-set losses on the road at Indiana State (Friday) and at Illinois State (Saturday). Both Wichita State and Missouri State were NCAA Tournament teams last year and this weekend's matchups will end a stretch in which BU will have played four of five home matches against 2011 NCAA Tournament participants.
Wichita State (9-4 overall, 3-1 MVC) is 6-1 in its last seven matches after opening the season with a 3-3 record. The Shockers swept Evansville and Southern Illinois at home last weekend and boast a 3-1 road record. Friday's match against Wichita State will mark the halfway point of the 2012 regular season for the Braves.
Missouri State (8-7 overall, 3-1 MVC) is tied with Wichita State for third in the Valley standings after weeks of conference play. The Bears are 5-2 in their last seven matches entering a Friday night matchup at preseason league favorite Northern Iowa, but Missouri State is 1-3 in road matches this year and 1-5 away from home, including an 0-2 neutral site record.
BradleyBraves.com will provide live stats and video streaming for both weekend matches.
Overall, Bradley will play eight of the next 12 matches at home, before closing out the regular season with three consecutive road matches.
Junior middle blocker Amy Angelos (Waukegan, Ill./Waukegan) has led the Braves in kills eight times this fall and owns a team-best .292 attack percentage. Angelos averaged 3.62 kills per set in last week's matches and posted an impressive .583 attack percentage against the Sycamores. Her attack percentage was the best by a BU player with 12 or more kills since Lindsay Stalzer hit .609 at Illinois-Chicago on Oct. 11, 2004 and is tied for the sixth highest hitting percentage in a match by a Bradley player with 12 or more kills over the last 20 years.
Fellow junior Lauren Zerante (Elmhurst, Ill./York) has also played an increased role for the Braves, collecting 4.64 digs per set in Missouri Valley Conference play. Zerante has topped 20 digs in five of the last eight matches and recorded her 500th career dig Friday at Indiana State. With Friday's match marking the halfway point of the regular season, she is on pace to post the first 400-dig season by a Brave since 2008.
Zerante recorded her 500th career dig Friday at Indiana State and enters the weekend needing 51 digs to break into Bradley's top 40 in career digs.