|Redbird fall sports enter Valley schedule in its 105th season|
|Written by Ashley Schrader, Daily Vidette Sports Editor|
|Monday, 19 September 2011 21:08|
It is that time of year when Illinois State volleyball and soccer join nine Missouri Valley Conference teams and Redbird football joins nine Missouri Valley Football Conference teams in kicking off the conference schedules.
While the 2011 season appears to be just another year of competition, the Redbirds join a rich MVC tradition as the Valley enters its 105th year, making it the second-oldest NCAA Division I conference.
Eight administrators belonging to the Missouri Valley Intercollegiate Athletic Association, representing Washington University of St. Louis, Iowa State, Kansas State, Missouri State and Nebraska State, created the conference on Jan. 12, 1907.
In 1928, the MVIAA split up with the larger schools joining the Big Eight Conference and the smaller schools forming the MVC.
ISU was part of the Illinois Intercollegiate Athletic Conference from nearly 1910-70, and was independent a year before joining the MVC in 1981.
The Valley sponsored football from 1907-84, but in 1985, six league teams switched to compete in the Football Championship Subdivision with five Valley schools, including ISU, joining North Dakota State, South Dakota State, Western Illinois and Youngstown State to form the Missouri Valley Football Conference, a Gateway Conference.
In 1999, ISU football won the MVFC Championship and went to the Pecan Bowl, defeating Hofstra, 37-20. The ‘Birds also played in the Pecan Bowl in 2006, falling to conference foe Youngstown State, 28-21.
Since its creation, the MVFC has improved each season and entering its 26th year is no different, especially for the Redbirds.
“This is a balanced league,” ISU football head coach Brock Spack said. “If you throw all the [MVC teams] in a hat, there’s a lot of good football team in that hat.”
The ISU soccer team has made a name for itself in the conference, winning seven MVC regular-season championships, most recently from 2007-09. The ‘Birds also won the State Farm Valley Tournament in 2009 when they also made an NCAA Tournament appearance.
“Despite finishing third [in the MVC regular-season standings] last year, I think people recognized that we were right there and still able to contend for the league title until the final game,” ISU soccer head coach Drew Roff said. “Our focus right now is to be at the top [of the MVC] when it’s all said and done.”
Likewise, MVC volleyball has had its string of success, especially in 2010 when four teams were invited to the 2010 NCAA Volleyball Championships.
While, ISU volleyball has not won a conference title since 1997 or had an NCAA Tournament appearance since 2007, the ‘Birds hope to be a dominant force in the MVC this season.
“We are trying to get better every week so we can prepare for the [MVC], which is going to be really tough this year,” ISU volleyball head coach Melissa Myers said.
In 2010, the Redbirds won the All-Sports Trophy, and in 2011 ISU volleyball and soccer hope to start the conference year out strong by chasing an MVC title, while Redbird football hopes to equally find success in the MVFC.