PEORIA, Ill. -- The Bradley volleyball team hits the road this weekend, looking for its first Missouri Valley Conference victory of the year when the Braves take on Drake (Friday) in Des Moines, Iowa, and Creighton (Saturday) in Omaha, Neb.
Friday's matchup at Drake (1-14 overall, 0-5 MVC) features a pair of teams looking for their first league win of the season. Bradley (6-10 overall, 0-5 MVC) and Drake split the regular-season series last year and the Braves are 16-10 against the Bulldogs since the start of the 1999 season.
The Braves topped Creighton (13-3 overall, 4-1 MVC) in five sets last year in the final home match of the 2011 season and the teams split the regular-season series last fall. The Bluejays are second in the MVC standings heading into a Friday night matchup with league-leading Northern Iowa. Saturday's match in Omaha, Neb., will start at 5 p.m.
BradleyBraves.com will provide links to live stats and Bradley All-Access subscribers will be able to view streams of both contests.
Last Friday's match with Wichita State marked the halfway point of the regular season for BU. The Braves are on pace to have two players with 300 or more kills in the same season for the first time since 2006. Junior Alise Tupuritis (Des Plaines, Ill./Maine West) has a team-best 183 kills and is looking to become the eighth player in program history to lead the squad in kills in back-to-back seasons.
Junior Amy Angelos (Waukegan, Ill./Waukegan) is averaging 2.94 kills per set in Missouri Valley Conference play and needs just 27 kills to join Megan Schmidt and Lindsay Stalzer as the only Braves in the last decade with three consecutive seasons with 200 or more kills. Angelos also needs 17 kills to become the 26th player in school history to record 700 career kills.
In addition to her offensive play, Angelos is helping Bradley average 1.85 blocks per set this season, for the team's best average since 2007. Angelos needs three blocks and senior Madelyn Ervin (Lewis Center, Ohio/Olentangy) is seven blocks from giving BU three individuals with 50 or more blocks in the same season since the 2007 campaign.
Also helping highlight the defensive efforts this year has been junior Lauren Zerante (Elmhurst, Ill./York), who is averaging a team-best 4.16 digs per set. Zerante, who has averaged 5.13 digs per set over the last four matches, is collecting 4.83 digs per set in Valley play and is on pace to post the first 400-dig season by a Brave since 2008. She needs three digs to surpass her career-best season total of 260 set in 2010 as a freshman.
Following the road trip, Bradley returns to Renaissance Coliseum for six of the next eight matches. The Braves will open a season-long four-match home stand Friday, Oct. 12 against Southern Illinois (6 p.m.) with the men's and women's basketball team's annual Red-White Scrimmage to immediately follow. BU will be playing four consecutive conference matches at home for the first time since 2004.