While many Valley teams posted wins in their season openers, none were as notable nor exciting as Missouri State’s upset over nationally ranked No. 23 Minnesota. The Bears got off to a quick start, rallying to an 18-4 lead over the Big Ten team early on and never looking back. Missouri State outscored the Gophers 77-69. Brice Calip led the Bears’ effort with a career-high 21 points, five steals and six assists. Teammate Jasmine Franklin tallied a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds. The Lady Bears also already set a new school record this season in going 17-for-17 at the foul line. The victory marks Missouri State’s fourth victory during a stretch of five consecutive games against AP Top-25 teams.
Last Saturday marked the MVC Cross Country Championships held at Sunset Hill Farms in Valparaiso, Indiana. The women’s race was dominated by the Loyola Ramblers, who scored a conference-record score of 17 to secure a large margin of victory over runner-up Bradley Braves (64). Sophomore Anneka Murrin led the Rambler’s tight-knit pack in taking the individual title with a 5,000-meter time of 17:59. Loyola proceeded to sweep the top four individual places, with their fifth and final scoring runner placing seventh overall. Bradley’s Sophia McDonnell won the Freshman of the Year Award in being the first freshman to cross the finish line Saturday. The Elite 17 Award, which honors a student-athlete with the highest combination of academic and athletic achievement competing in each of the 17 Valley Championships, was awarded to Illinois State University’s Rachel Hickey who placed eighth overall with a 4.0 cumulative GPA. A complete list of award winners and results from the meet can be found here.
UNI and Illinois State represented the Valley in the 54-hole Rainbow Wahine Invitational in Hawaii. The Panthers finished in eighth place overall with 892 strokes while the Redbirds followed in tenth with 912. Golfer of the week Sydney Eaton led the Panther charge as she tied for 13th individually with a three-round total of 217 strokes. Becca Black was the top finisher for the Redbirds in 38th with 226 strokes.
MVC Golfer of the Week: Sydney Eaton, UNI
The remaining Missouri Valley teams are gearing up for a big weekend, as the league semifinals take place on Friday evening, while the championship match for all the glory goes down on Saturday in Springfield, Missouri.
On Friday, No. 2 ranked Illinois State will face off against No. 3 Missouri State for a spot in the championship game, while the top seeded Loyola team will play No. 4 Drake. The winners of each of Friday’s games will go head-to-head on Saturday at 1 p.m. to play for the Missouri Valley title. No one team is guaranteed a spot in the finals as each team has fallen to each other at some point during regular season play this fall, minus the undefeated Loyola Ramblers. All teams have also won a Valley tournament title in recent years, with Loyola, Drake and Missouri State having each claimed one and Illinois State having seven under their belts.
MVC Offensive Player of the Week: Lauren Torhorst, Valparaiso
MVC Defensive Player of the Week: Haley Smith, Illinois State
MVC Newcomer of the Week: Megan Nemec, Loyola
Northern Iowa swept the weekly swimming and diving honors as they swam to victory in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. The two-day meet featured teams such as in-state foe Western Illinois and host South Dakota. The Panthers reigned supreme over all present teams. Helping her team to victory, MVC swimmer of the week freshman Sydney Schmidt posted six event wins over the two days of competition. She posted victories in both the 50-meter and 100-meter freestyle twice, as well as anchoring the 400-meter medley relay to victory and the 400-meter freestyle relay. Junior teammate Jayden Lovell scored points for the Panthers on the boards as she won the 1-meter diving competition and placed third in the 3-meter dive. Her scores of 252.90 and 247.10, respectively, are some of the best in the Valley thus far.
COMING UP: Catch your swimming ’Birds right here at home this weekend as they face off against conference foe Indiana State! The ’Birds swim right here in Normal this Saturday, Nov. 9, while many other conference matchups start to heat up the Valley’s season.
MVC Swimmer of the Week: Sydney Schmidt, UNI
MVC Diver of the Week: Jayden Lovell, UNI
Only one team has secured its spot in the Missouri Valley Volleyball Tournament at Northern Iowa on November 28-30. UNI has dominated the regular season play and made itself the definitive No. 1 team in the Valley this fall, thus locking in its spot to vie for a tournament title on its home court. The remaining five teams currently in the hunt for one of the six spots are Loyola, Bradley, Illinois State, Evansville and Valparaiso. With three weeks remaining in the regular season, these standings are not final, and any team could risk losing its spot.
The Loyola Ramblers are having aa historic season in the Missouri Valley, as they have topped their program record for league wins since joining the Valley in 2013. The Ramblers have ten conference victories thus far as they maintain their runner-up ranking behind Northern Iowa. The Ramblers have never finished higher than sixth in the Missouri Valley tournament. Needless to say, the Ramblers are making a promising attempt to post a much higher finish in the Valley this season.
While the top two teams in the Valley remain consistent, there has been some shifting in the standings this past week. With Bradley’s five-set win over Illinois State at Redbird Arena on Friday, they have overtaken the Redbirds for the bronze standing in the Valley. The road victory for the Braves was the first in the series since 2002, as Bradley swept the regular-season series from the Redbirds for the first time in 2001.
The newest edition of the NCAA RPI report has been released and the Valley has three teams featured in the top-125. UNI leads the league at No. 47, while Loyola (No. 103) and Illinois State (No. 112) are also among the nation’s top-125. Three other teams rank in the Top 200 (Bradley, Evansville and Valpo).
MVC Player of the Week: Hannah Thompson, Bradley
MVC Defensive Player of the Week: Rylee Cookerly, Valparaiso
MVC Freshman of the Week: Addie Barnes, Loyola