Best of CKS – Welcome Back

Valparaiso University's campus during my visit as a guest speaker

Valparaiso University’s campus during my visit as a guest speaker

Earlier this week, I returned to Valparaiso University to speak to a journalism class and several other communication students. It was also a very fun opportunity to be back at my alma mater and revisit some old friends and old memories.

“Returning” is a common theme during this point of the UNI volleyball season as well. The Panthers are playing through the second round of Missouri Valley Conference action, getting at least one more chance this season to play the other nine MVC programs.

This weekend, UNI welcomes the Missouri State Bears and the Wichita State Shockers back to the McLeod Center. These three perennial powerhouses often have challenging series with each other, and with second through fourth place in the Valley up for grabs between these teams, this next set of matches is even more important. Here are the weekly team capsules:

UNI Panthers (14-8 overall, 8-2 MVC (Third))
Last week: 3-1 win at South Dakota State, 3-0 win vs. Drake (Bobbi Petersen at Pepper’s)
Highlighted stats: Best record among MVC teams in second set (17-5); At least 2,364 fans at all seven home matches this season
Key to success: Offensive balance and consistency similar to last weekend’s home sweep against Drake
Spotlight: Ashlee Sinnott, a key member of the NCAA’s tenth-best digging defense (17.48 digs/set)

Missouri State Bears (16-7 overall, 9-2 MVC (Second))
Last week: 3-1 win vs. Bradley, 3-0 win vs. Loyola (Recap from “The Standard”)
Highlighted stats: Six straight victories since 3-2 loss against UNI; Team attack percentage of .299 during month of October
Key to success: Continue to limit unforced errors (just 8.2% of attacks within current win streak)
Spotlight: Olivia Brand, who needs two kills become 19th Bear to reach 1,000 career kills

Wichita State Shockers (14-7 overall, 8-3 MVC (Fourth))
Last week: 3-0 win vs. Bradley, 3-0 win vs. Loyola (Recap from “The Wichita Eagle”)
Highlighted stats: Swept all eight MVC wins, including four-match win streak; Looking for eighth straight NCAA appearance
Key to success: Start points cleanly on serve receive (two aces allowed or less all but thrice in MVC)
Spotlight: Abbie Lehman, choosing volleyball over basketball and quickly settling in

I hope to see you at the McLeod Center for Friday and Saturday. It is a very busy weekend with Halloween and a veritable cornucopia of Panther home events for Hall of Fame Weekend, and hopefully your plans include some exciting MVC volleyball! U-N-I Fight!