Bears Face Tough Road Trip at Creighton and Drake
The Missouri State volleyball team (13-3, 4-1 Missouri Valley Conference) makes arguably its toughest road trip of the season this week when it heads north to face Creighton (10-6, 5-1) at 7 p.m. Friday and Drake (17-3, 3-3) at 7 p.m. Saturday. The Bluejays and Bulldogs were picked to finish fourth and fifth in the MVC, respectively before the season started.
Creighton sits alone in second place in the MVC with a 5-1 league mark and 10-6 overall record. The Bluejays have won seven times in their last eight tries since a 3-5 start. Alicia Runge leads CU with 3.95 kills per set and hits .239, while Creighton as a team hits .206, holds opponents to .162, and averages 13.19 kills, 1.17 aces, 18.58 digs and 2.51 blocks per set.
Drake got off to a 14-0 start and is 17-3 overall and 3-3 in MVC play. The Bulldogs are a veteran club, with senior libero Alana Wittenburg leading the MVC with 5.84 digs per set and senior outside hitter Angela Bys putting away 4.03 kills per set. As a team, Drake hits .242 and averages 13.78 kills, 0.92 aces, 17.68 digs and 2.39 blocks per set.
Missouri State is a combined 73-14 all-time against this week’s opponents. MSU is 27-6 against Creighton and has won the last two meetings after CU won three straight to end the Bears’ 19-match winning streak in the series.
Missouri State has won 21 straight over Drake and has built a 46-8 lead in the all-time series with the Bulldogs.
Missouri State ran its winning streak to five with victories over SIU Edwardsville and Wichita State. Tuesday at SIUE, the Bears were pushed to four sets by the Cougars in a 25-18, 25-17, 27-29, 25-21 win. Missouri State lost six match point chances in the third set and finished with six players with at least seven kills, led by Christine McCartney with 14.
Saturday, the Bears used 19 McCartney kills to score a 29-27, 28-30, 25-23, 25-20 victory over Wichita State. Both teams had trouble putting away sets, failing to convert on 16 of 20 combined set point opportunities, and the MSU offense piled up 70 kills and a .240 hitting percentage against the MVC’s best defense.
Coach Melissa Stokes
Missouri State head coach Melissa Stokes (San Diego State, 1991) is 327-148 (.688) in her 15th season at Missouri State. A native of El Cajon, Calif., Stokes has guided Missouri State to an overall record of 250-90 (.735) and 145-39 (.788) in the Missouri Valley Conference since 2000. In 2003, the Bears were the MVC regular-season champions and advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1993. MSU made a return trip to the NCAAs in 2005 after winning the MVC Tournament, and advanced to the second round for the first time in program history in 2006, defeating Arkansas before falling to No. 13 Oklahoma in the second round, and made it four straight trips to the postseason with NCAA bids in 2007 and 2008.
Stokes came to Missouri State from the University of Idaho, where she helped the Vandals to four straight NCAA Tournament berths. As a setter at San Diego State, Stokes played four seasons and helped the Aztecs to two NCAA appearances. She coached the 300th victory of her Missouri State career against Delaware, Sept. 11, 2009. Stokes ranked 36th among active Division I coaches in win percentage entering 2010.
• Missouri State received six votes in the Oct. 4 AVCA Coaches Poll, the 36th highest total.
• Missouri State is 4-3 this season against members of the 2009 NCAA Tournament field and 6-3 against teams that have made the tournament at least once in the last two seasons.
• MSU’s 6-0 start this year was the best for a Bears’ volleyball squad in 33 years. Missouri State began the 1977 season 8-0.
• Missouri State’s 3-1 league start markedthe 20th time in 28 seasons in the Gateway/MVC that the Bears have won at least three of their first four matches. Of the previous 19 times, Missouri State has gone on to finish second or better in the final standings on 16 occasions.
• Head coach Melissa Stokes is climbing up the all-time MVC coaching lists in a number of categories. Listed below is the 15th-year coach’s ranking in those categories. Lists are compiled based on statistics at Valley schools only:
• Third in total victories with 327
• Second in MVC victories (185)
• Fifth in win percentage overall (.688) and third among active MVC coaches
• Seventh in win percentage in MVC matches only (.720)
• Stokes picked up her 300th career victory with MSU’s 3-1 win over Delaware on Sept. 11, 2009, and is 11 league wins away from tying the MVC record for conference victories at 196 with UNI’s Iradge Ahrabi-Fard.
• Missouri State’s defense has allowed only two opponents to hit better than .226 in 16 matches and has held 10 opponents to a .183 or lower attack efficiency.
• Missouri State has defeated a ranked opponent in each of the last three seasons. The Bears beat No. 20 Wichita State in 2009, the ninth-ranked Shockers in 2008, and No. 25 Middle Tennessee in 2007.
• The Bears have yet to allow a kill-dig double-double to an opponent this season.
• Calli Norman currently ranks third in Missouri State history in career hitting percentage at .314 and has turned 46.4 percent of her career attacks into kills. The two players in front of her on that list are Linette White (.352/48.3) and Sabrina Apker (.338/47.4).
Norman’s 2010 totals of .303 hitting and 48.7 percent kills also challenge White’s school record 2003 season of .393 hitting and 52.9 percent.
• Speaking of Linette White’s school record of .393, Kelley Michnowicz is quietly sneaking up on that record this year, hitting .388 to rank second on single-season list.
• Freshman Christine McCartney’s 3.11 kills per set average is the highest for any MSU rookie since Jessica Hovorka averaged 3.26 in 1995.
McCartney has 171 total kills this year and should threaten Shanda Harper’s recent total of 333 by the end of the year, and has led the Bears in kills seven times, the same as Harper in ‘06 and most since Hovorka did it 10 times in ‘95.
McCartney has at least 10 kills in eight consecutive matches.
• Missouri State is 15-8 in five-set matches since the beginning of the 2007 season.
• Missouri State has finished in the top four of the MVC standings 11 years in a row. Only UNI can match that streak among league schools.
• MSU is 90-9 the last five seasons when winning set two.
• Missouri State has won at least 20 matches in 11 consecutive seasons, a streak that is currently longer than all but six others nationally.
Senior Cara Hackmann has truly been a do-it-all player in her Missouri State career. She currently holds six school records, including hitting percentage in a match (.882, 15-0-17) in a 2008 contest, digs in a match (46, Oct. 10, 2009 vs. Evansville), total digs and dig average in a season (671 and 5.74 in 2009), career digs (1,679) and career double-figure dig matches (86).
Hackmann is also MSU’s career leader in dig average at 3.91 per set.
Six is the Magic Number
The number six has been a milestone number the last 10 years in terms of winning streaks, as the Bears have strung together at least six consecutive wins a total of 16 times since the beginning of the 1999 season.
Missouri State started 6-0 in 2010 to knock out the streak early this season.
Missouri State has been dominant at home since 2000, compiling a home record of 132-23 for an .852 winning percentage at Hammons Student Center.
The Bears are 8-2 in 2010 and have completed 10 consecutive seasons with four or fewer home losses.
Players of the Week
Christine McCartney was Missouri State’s first weekly award winner as the MVC Freshman of the Week on Sept. 13. McCartney averaged 3.27 kills per set and had 17 kills and 15 digs against Utah and 16 kills versus Oklahoma.
McCartney won the award again Oct. 4, putting up 4.12 kills in wins over SIUE and Wichita State. She had 14 kills at SIUE and 19 against the Shockers, hitting .209 against the league’s top defense.
Bears on TV
Missouri State will have three televised matches on Mediacom cable channel 22 in the Springfield area this season. TV games for the Bears will be Sept. 17 at UNI, Nov. 5 vs. Drake and Nov. 20 vs. UNI. All three will start at 7 p.m.
Cara Hackmann and Calli Norman occupy two of the six spots on this year’s preseason all-MVC team. Both were first-team all-league pick last season, and Norman was a first-teamer in 2008 as well.
Bears Live, Missouri State’s premium broadband video channel that is your online destination for exclusive live and on-demand Missouri State streaming video and audio brought straight to your computer, will broadcast a minimum of five home matches this season on a subscription basis at www.MissouriStateBears.com.
The 2010 streaming schedule currently includes North Carolina (Sept. 4, 7:30 p.m.), Oklahoma (Sept. 11, 7:30 p.m.), Illinois State (Sept. 25, 7 p.m.), Wichita State (Oct. 2, 7 p.m.) and Southern Illinois (Oct. 16, 7 p.m.).
Seven over-the-air volleyball broadcasts can be heard on KBFL 1060 AM in Springfield this season, while the remainder of MSU’s home contests will be internet-only broadcasts at TheGrowl.MissouriState.edu.
The KBFL schedule includes all Saturday evening home matches (Sept. 4, Sept. 11, Sept. 25, Oct. 2, Oct. 16, Nov. 6 and Nov. 20), with match times at 7 p.m. with the exception of Sept. 4 and 11, which start at 7:30 p.m.
Those matches can also be heard online at www.RadioSpringfield.com.