IPFW upends SDSU in five sets


The third time wasn’t a charm for the SDSU volleyball team last Saturday.

After jumping out to a 2-0 match lead in front of an energetic Frost Arena crowd, the Jacks failed three times to close out IPFW as the Mastodons handed SDSU its tenth loss in 11 matches.

“We really controlled the net early on in the match and got a lot of blocks, but it [the match] kind of got away from us a little bit,” head coach Phil McDaniel said.

SDSU appeared to have the IPFW attack under wraps in the first two sets, registering seven total blocks with Shay Birath recording 16 digs. Then IPFW’s kills started to find the holes in the Jackrabbits defense.

“They had a couple [kills] that just slipped between us and the net,” said Kelsey Hansen, who finished the night with 10 kills and three total blocks.

The slip-ups started in set three.

The Jacks held an 8-3 lead but after an IPFW timeout, the Dons went on a 22-13 run to close out the set and stay alive.

Sets four and five needed extra points to determine a winner with both teams shaking off set and match points, but IPFW proved why they’re a top-four team in the conference, narrowly escaping the Jacks’ upset bid.

“They’re top-four for a reason. They’re a very good team. Matches like this- it’s how I expect us to play. Hopefully we learn how to finish these,” McDaniel said.

Both McDaniel and Hansen were positive after the match, with McDaniel saying he was happy to have his team back, referring to the 11-4 record to start the season.

There were encouraging signs from an SDSU team looking for answers to their struggles. Kelli Fiegen tied a career high with 22 kills. Kaitlin Klingemann tallied 16 kills. Lexi Fowler recorded a double-double, with 56 assists and 20 digs.

But a loss is still a loss and the Jacks now find themselves in a familiar situation as last season: having to win out for a shot to be one of four teams in the Summit League Tournament.

The top three spots are nearly wrapped up with Oral Roberts, NDSU and IPFW holding a strong lead over fourth place Oakland, but that fourth spot is still up for grabs.

“I think the big key is can we come out with this kind of energy, focus and attention to detail again and again?,” McDaniel said.

The Jacks face an uphill battle, as three of the five conference match-ups are on the road, including a showdown against the Bison in Fargo Oct. 28.

“Whether we have a chance or not [at making the tournament], it’s win-out just to end the season on a good note,” Hansen said.