Missouri Valley Conference play started for the Missouri State volleyball team last weekend.

The Bears faced Illinois State and Bradley and lost to both teams.

The losses moved Missouri State to a disappointing 3-13 on the year and 0-2 in MVC play for the second straight season. 

The Bears started their first road MVC game on Sept. 27 against the Redbirds, who came in with a 7-5 record.

Missouri State was swept by Illinois State. 

In the first set, the Redbirds jumped ahead 7-2 and led by at least four points to finish, hitting .356 with five blocks while the Bears had three more attack errors than kills. 

Junior Laynie Dake had four kills and a block on the way to a 9-6 lead in the second set before Illinois State rallied quickly to an 11-10 advantage. Missouri State tied the score twice, but the Redbirds closed on a 13-3 run. 

The Bears fell behind 9-1 in the third set, cut the gap to four at 12-8 but were unable to get any closer.

Illinois State regained their eight-point advantage at 16-8 and coasted to the finish line. 

Dake led the team with 10 kills on .304 hitting and five blocks.

The Redbirds hit .344 as a team while the Bears managed only two more kills than errors.

On Saturday, Missouri State was unable to overcome Bradley’s offensive onslaught over the final two periods in a 3-1 loss. 

The Bears rallied from six points below to near a first set victory, but the Braves fought off a pair of Missouri State set points and closed with back-to-back kills for the 27-25 win.

In the second set, Bradley got as close as 22-20 when senior Aubrey Cheffey stopped the Braves’ comeback with a kill before pairing with freshman Azyah Green for the winning block two points later.

Bradley hit .455 over the third and fourth sets, navigating the third frame without an attack error and committing just one in the fourth to pull away for the win.

Cheffey finished with a season-high 16 kills on .333 hitting to lead all players. 

Despite dropping their seventh and eighth straight games over the weekend, the Bears are getting healthier.

The team saw the return of standout sophomore Amelia Flynn on Sept. 21. She played in both games over the weekend.

Missouri State returns to Hammons Student Center on Oct. 4 to face conference preseason favorite Northern Iowa. 

Around the Valley

Illinois State and UNI sit atop the conference with two wins each. The Redbirds have a 9-5 nonconference record to hid the advantage over the Panthers.

Loyola is perfect with one conference win, while Evansville, Southern Illinois, Drake and Bradley all hold 1-1 records.

Valparaiso, MSU and Indiana State are winless in Valley play so far.