Coyotes spoil Senior Night for Jacks

Travis Kriens

USD proved they are the state’s top dog in volleyball with a season sweep.

A volleyball season that took a turn for the worse halfway through ended on a sour note Saturday night at Frost Arena as the USD defeated SDSU 3-1 in the final match of the season for both squads.

The lone set that the Jacks did win was the second set in which they battled back from as many as six points down to win 26-24.

“We did a good job at some points in the match, but when we were able to get our middles going for awhile, that certainly got us back in the match,” first year head coach Phil McDaniel said. “When we stopped paying attention to our defensive assignments, that’s when we really got into trouble.”

An 8-0 run midway through set four set the stage for USD to close the match out leading 21-14. However, SDSU came back to tie the set at 24 and had three set points in which it could have forced a fifth set, but the Coyotes prevailed 31-29.

“We saw a lot of fight in our team,” McDaniel said. “For us, it was just a matter of too little, too late. We started too late in our fight to stay in the match.”

SDSU was led by junior Kelli Fiegen with her 18 kills and .444 hitting percentage. The reigning Summit League Player of the Year ends the season with a team-best 422 kills.

“She’s phenomenal,” McDaniel said. “When we can get her the ball and have her play in the space where other teams can’t, she can do a lot of good things for us. It’s a matter of us being able to defensively transition so that we can get her good, quality swings.”

It was also senior night as Brookings native Ellyce Youngren and Emily Palmer played the final match of their SDSU careers. Youngren wrapped up her time at SDSU 13th on the all-time kills list with 1,144, including 11 in her final match, while Palmer finished with 740 kills as a defensive specialist.

“They played a great match and did a lot of good things for us,” McDaniel said. “Ellyce is such a big blocking threat on the right and Emily has been fantastic for us all year. We are certainly going to miss those two. They bring a lot on the court as well as off the court.”

When you consider all the factors, it was not a surprise that it was the loudest and most amped crowd of the year as 813 fans was good enough for the second largest crowd of the season.

“The crowd was awesome,” Palmer said, after her final match. “I’ve never in my career had a crowd like that. The energy was so high, it was awesome to play in.”

After being picked to finish second in the Summit League behind North Dakota State, the high expectations for SDSU were not met as they lost nine of their last 10 and 15 of their last 17 after starting the season 11-4, including a 3-0 mark in conference. The Jacks finished with a 13-20 overall record and finished ninth in the 10-team Summit League with a 5-13 mark.