Volleyball sweeps pair of conference foes

Travis Kriens

Travis Kriens

Jones helped fuel a come-from-behind, five-set victory over Western Illinois.

In the longest home match in at least a dozen years, the SDSU women’s volleyball team pulled off a dramatic comeback on Sept. 25 to defeat Western Illinois in five sets (25-20, 24-26, 24-26, 25-23, 15-12).

After winning the first set, the Jacks let the next two slip away. The second set saw an early 16-9 SDSU lead go to the wayside, as the Leathernecks (5-10, 2-3) closed with a 17-8 run.

While the third set would end up the same as the second, neither team could gain an advantage of more than two points in the final 35 points of the set.

“We are still having trouble getting a four-point lead and moving forward,” said head coach Nana Allison-Brewer. “It was good to come back after winning the first set and dropping the next two to find ways to come back out and pull together as a team.”

In the fourth set, the Jacks held off Western Illinois after taking an early lead and winning on an ace by sophomore Ellyce Youngren.

Youngren finished with 17 kills and a .238 hitting percentage.

The fifth and deciding set saw SDSU (4-8, 3-2) lead the entire way, running their all-time record against Western Illinois to 4-1.

“It’s good to see them come out right away and play with a lot of confidence,” Allison-Brewer said. “We need to continue to control that confidence and really learn how to finish teams off.”

Fiona Jones led the Jacks in kills for the fifth time this season with a new career high of 26 on 62 attempts for a .290 hitting percentage. She also added career-best 18 digs for her fifth double-double.

Jones credits her fast start with “just being confident in myself.

“We had to fight hard, so it was a fun victory,” Jones said.

After having a total of 12 kills in her last two games at IPFW and Creighton, Allison-Brewer was pleased to see Jones bounce back strong.

“It was great to get her back in a rhythm,” Allison-Brewer said. “Last weekend I think a lot of teams were keying on her, so she is learning how to find other ways to get kills and shots. We are still trying to find what is the best way to get her the ball for her to get the kills that we like to see.”

Brazilian setter Thyele Rechatiko reached a career high with 46 assists, along with a career-high mark of eight kills on only 11 attempts. Rechatiko surprised the Leathernecks more than once by hitting the ball over the net instead of setting up a teammate.

“That’s something that is nice to have with someone that is very aggressive at the net,” said Allison-Brewer. “She is able to see a hole and take advantage of it.

“If she can find those openings, then those blockers and defenders have to hold on her, which gives that split second to distribute it to our middles or our outside hitters having them go one-on-one,” Allison-Brewer said.

With Kelli Fiegen on the shelf for another week, freshman Kaitlin Klingemann made the most of her opportunity with a career best of 14 kills in addition to six block assists.

Five Jacks ended up with double digits in digs led by senior libero Stacey Wernert with 23. Jones had 18, Rechatiko, a career-high 17, Shay Birath, a career-best 16 and Emily Palmer, 11.

“It’s hard when it’s a young team, and you are trying to be consistent and stay together,” said Allison-Brewer.

“Sometimes it is very emotional not knowing if we are going to continue to keep the lead or fall back and show a little bit of youth.”

Allison-Brewer said she was proud to see them come back and keep fighting.

“It was really nice to see them work together and grind through it.”

The Jacks downed IUPUI in four sets and moved into third place in the Summit League.

The SDSU women’s volleyball team completed their second weekend home sweep of Summit League opponents with a 3-1 win over IUPUI (25-15, 25-15, 14-25, 25-13) on Sept. 26.

The Jacks (5-8, 4-2) dominated the first two sets, including going on runs of 7-1 and 7-0 to close out each set.

Head coach Nana Allison-Brewer said it was a relief to see her young team close out the first two sets strongly.

“It was one of those things with a young team that you are trying to find how consistent we are going to come out,” Allison-Brewer said. “I was very proud of them, what we are doing and how they are performing.”

Unfortunately, SDSU hit a bump in the road during the third set as they got behind early and could never recover.

“That third set makes you say, ‘Hey, we still have things to work on,’ but then to come back in the fourth to close it out like we did was really refreshing,” said Allison-Brewer.

“The third set showed our youth and how we have trouble finishing. Last night’s long battle was definitely emotional and all worth it because it reminded us what we are trying to achieve,” the coach said.

Close it out they did, as the Jacks held the lead the entire fourth set with another strong finish against IUPUI (10-4, 3-2) with a 9-3 run.

Junior setter Thyele Rechatiko came in during the final points of the third set to replace Nicole Peters, giving the Jacks the spark they needed in the fourth set by assisting on 11 of the team’s 16 kills.

Peters finished with 33 set assists and a team season-high four aces.

“I am glad that they came together and were able to find their rhythm for the fourth set to finish it out strong,” Allison-Brewer said.

Fiona Jones, a freshman from Bountiful, Utah, had a game-high 16 kills along with 21 digs. Jones, who ended the weekend with 42 kills and 39 digs, is the team leader with 140 kills and is second with 144 digs on the season.

Two other Jacks finished in double digits in kills as Ellyce Youngren added 15 kills and a .367 hitting percentage, while freshman Kaitlin Klingemann had 12. Jones and Klingemann each had five block assists.

“It just shows the depth that we have,” said Allison-Brewer. “We have two solid setters that can come in and lead us, and I think we are taking the right steps.

“We may not win every match the way we would like to, but it just shows that we can still win despite some of our weaknesses and flaws,” she said. ” It also shows that we can be better and continue to raise the bar.”

Next for the third-place Jacks is a matchup at UMKC (4-10, 0-4) on Oct. 1, followed by a trip to Southern Utah (3-10, 1-3) on Oct. 3. After a game at Drake, SDSU returns home on Oct. 10 to take on defending conference champion North Dakota State (10-2, 6-0).

“We know we are in the hunt. We know that after this weekend, we put ourselves in a better position to be one of the top four teams and make the Summit League tournament,” the coach said. “We need to maintain that and continue to prove who we are. We have to prove ourselves that we are right there and have the ability to go after that championship.”