Jacks end five match losing streak to Bison

Marcus Traxler

Marcus TraxlerAssistant Sports Editor

SDSU had four players with at least nine kills to keep the Jackrabbits’ conference playoff hopes alive.

Just like a box of chocolates, you never know what you will get from the SDSU Jackrabbit volleyball team. With their season on the line, a border rival in the house and a boisterous crowd on hand, one would wonder if the Jacks would sputter or shine.

On Nov. 6, SDSU left no doubt on how they intend to finish out their season, topping the Summit League-leading the NDSU Bison 3-1 at Frost Arena. Set scores were 20-25, 25-10, 25-20 and 29-27.

“I’m just so happy for each and everyone of our players,” SDSU head coach Nanabah Allison-Brewer said. “They did a great job of coming out tonight and sticking with the game plan and executing it and were able to pull off this big win.”

The Bison did strike first, however. After tying set one at 11, NDSU held their lead behind the solid play of Lauren McLaughlin and Megan Lambertson. They teamed up for 11 kills in the set, and NDSU took the opening set, 25-20.

SDSU took a lead to start the second set and broke the set open when they went on a 15-2 scoring run to build the lead at 23-8. Ketty Cornemann drilled home the final point to even the match at 1-1 after two sets. The Jackrabbits hit .464 on the attack in the second set to power their way to the set win.

“Serving and passing was the key,” Allison-Brewer said. “We finally got into a rhythm in the second set and really found our service and attack and were able to maintain our offense.”

SDSU held a lead in the third set most of the way until Brynn Joki brought the Bison back into the set with her service ace, tying the game 19-19. The Jacks rose to the occasion again to score six of the final seven points, three of them from Bison unforced errors.

Set four was the night’s most closely contested, with the lead changing hands eight times and tied-up scores on 14 separate occasions. The Bison trailed by as much as five before rallying back, and Lambertson’s back-to-back kills tied the decisive set at 20. NDSU had three shots at set point, but the Jacks held it off each time and took the lead for good on a Thyele Rechatiko kill at 28-27. SDSU then held off a Brooke VandenBergh attack behind the efforts of Kaitlin Klingemann and Ellyce Youngren to give the Jackrabbits their first victory over the Bison since 2007.

“I think we’re playing so well,” Allison-Brewer said. “We’re peaking, and we’re growing every single match. We had the loss against USD but we’re learning and doing some wonderful things.”

The Jackrabbits brought tremendous emotion into the rivalry match and played with far more desire than the Bison, who despite winning their last five matches, looked uninspired most of the match.

“We were fighters tonight,” Youngren said. “We just knew that we had to push through and finish this.”

The diversified attack of the Jackrabbits was led by Kelli Fiegen, who quietly had 13 kills. Klingemann had 11 kills, and Cornemann and Youngren each added 9 for SDSU. Shay Birath led the Jackrabbit defense, which had four players with double-digit digs in the match.

Lambertson and Chrissy Knuth were the leaders for the Bison, tallying 18 and 11 kills respectively. Standout setter Jennifer Lopez, who was thought to be out for the season after suffering a liver laceration earlier in the year, dressed and played the final two sets, assisting 21 times. The Summit League leader in aces, Joki, recorded 5 for the Bison, but she also had 5 service errors.

“We knew coming out what we had to do and what our goal was,” Youngren said. “This was a game that decided whether we would make the [Summit] tourney or not, and we decided this year that we’re sick of being fifth.”

SDSU hosts Oral Roberts and Centenary at home this week Nov. 11 and Nov. 13, respectively. The Jackrabbits are tied for the fourth and final spot in the conference, along with Oral Roberts and Southern Utah.

“These two are crucial to get, and we’re still not in for sure and we just need to keep fighting,” Youngren said.

#1.1766785:1471061405.jpg:Volleyball Ryan Robinson 2.jpg:Shay Birath, libero, stretches for a dig against NDSU on Nov. 6. Birath scooped a game-high 24 digs.:Collegian Photo by Ryon Robinson#1.1766792:545172620.jpg:Volleyball Ryan Robinson 9.jpg:The SDSU volleyball team celebrates after defeating NDSU, 3-1 on Nov. 6 at Frost Arena. The Jacks knocked off the Bison for the first time since 2007.:Collegian Photo