Best of CKS – Tale of the Tape at the ISUs

The "tape" is a name for the top and bottom strips of the net, fyi

The “tape” is a name for the top and bottom strips of the net, fyi

The UNI Panther volleyball team has a big road trip coming up this weekend. In a match between the Missouri Valley Conference’s only undefeated teams, UNI and Illinois State will square off at Redbird Arena on Friday evening. Two unbeatens enter, only one will leave. It’s the unstoppable force against the immovable object (okay, enough cliches, but it is still a big contest).

After facing Illinois State, the Panthers will play the Indiana State Sycamores on Saturday to finish the weekend. Indiana State has surprised everyone in the MVC (maybe even itself) with a strong start to what could be a historic season for the Sycamores. As UNI gets ready to hop on the road to Bloomington-Normal, here are this week’s team capsules:

UNI Panthers (12-6 overall, 7-0 MVC (T-First))
Last week: 3-0 win vs. Evansville, 3-0 win vs. Southern Illinois (Bobbi Petersen’s comments at Pepper’s)
Highlighted stats: 40 aces compared to 21 errors in MVC play (48, 42 non-conference); Tops conference action in blocks/set (2.34), digs/set (18.04)
Key to success: Limited unforced errors again with just 12 unforced attack errors in six victorious sets last week
Spotlight: Kinsey Caldwell, who is directing UNI’s offense AND digging a lot of attacks

Illinois State Redbirds (13-5 overall, 7-0 MVC (T-First))
Last week: 3-0 win at Bradley, 3-0 win at Loyola (Illinois State Athletics recap and Interview with Melissa Myers)
Highlighted stats: Outhitting opponents .287 to .104 in seven MVC victories (six sweeps); Leads league play in hitting, opposing hitting, kills/set (14.59), assists/set (13.5)
Key to success: Strong passing off opponents’ serves, continuing from last week’s near-perfect play (2 aces allowed)
Spotlight: Jaelyn Keene, conference Freshman of the Week after stellar performances

Indiana State Sycamores (12-7 overall, 4-3 MVC (T-Fourth))
Earlier this week: 3-1 loss at Saint Louis on Tuesday (Tribune Star recap)
Highlighted stats: On pace for first-ever winning conference record (and first overall winning record since 1982); Best aces/set mark (1.73) in Valley matches
Key to success: Conditioning through final three-match week (Saint Louis Tuesday, Drake Friday, UNI Saturday)
Spotlight: Bree Spangler, with at least nine kills in every conference match in 2014

Best of CKS bonus: Last weekend at UNI’s home matches, a special video package of Panther volleyball history played as fans started arriving at the McLeod Center. That video, with footage dating back to 1985, is now online and linked below for your viewing pleasure. Take care! U-N-I Fight!