Volleyball team struggles at Wisconsin-Green Bay

Travis Kriens

Travis Kriens

A three game sweep was not how the South Dakota State women’s volleyball team envisioned their trip to the Green Bay Classic.

Just like the week before in Wyoming, the Jacks came out with a first-set win, this time against Iowa (6-0), only to lose the next three 25-18, 25-15 and 25-22. The bright spot of the match and of the weekend continued to be freshman outside hitter Fiona Jones.

Jones, along with sophomore Kelli Fiegen, had a team-leading 12 kills. Junior setter Nicole Peters added 27 assists.

“We are really happy with her (Jones’) effort and what she is contributing to the team this early,” said second-year coach Nanabah Allison-Brewer. “I think her fast start is going to help us later on in developing her leadership as well.”

Similar results followed with the first match on Sept. 5th with a first-set win vs. host Wisconsin-Green Bay (1-5) only to fall in the next three by scores of 25-23, 25-14, and 25-22.

Jones and Fiegen would yet again tie for the team lead with 12 kills apiece followed by sophomore Ellyce Youngren who chipped in 10 kills with a .333 hitting percentage.

Allison-Brewer said that it is quite a change from last year when it seemed like it was always the third set where the Jacks would come back and win.

“We managed to always win the third set after intermission and got the troops going again. I am unsure what it is, whether it is losing our focus or losing our confidence. When you have a win you know that you have the advantage and we are not maintaining our confidence or not generating that killer instinct of ‘let’s go at them again.’ “

SDSU’s .218 team hitting percentage vs. Green Bay ended up being a season best so far, a big contrast to what would soon follow.

The final match of the weekend ended up being the worst match by far of the Jacks (1-5) short season.

A 3-0 sweep (25-16, 25-15 and 25-9) at the hands of Central Michigan (3-3) saw no SDSU player have more than four kills or more than six set assists. The Jacks’ hitting percentage of -.095 is the worst in school history going back to the first year of recorded game-by-game stats in 1999.

“We played well against Iowa, played a great first match against Green Bay and then all of a sudden we just lost it against Central Michigan,” Allison-Brewer said. “It’s a matter of showing up and getting the job done and having higher expectations of ourselves and learning how to compete.”

The Jacks will begin Summit League play this weekend starting with a home match at 7 p.m. against Centenary (1-7) followed by a 4:30 p.m. tilt against Oral Roberts (4-2) who finished second in the league last season. The Jacks have never lost to Centenary, leading the all-time series 4-0, while never even losing a set sweeping all four matchups 3-0.

“We need to show our fans and our supporters our energy,” said Allison-Brewer. “Going in we have to have that killer instinct with Centenary and hopefully that will continue to give us that energy and momentum going into Oral Roberts. It’s going to be our mental psyche trying to get prepared for this weekend and being confident from start to finish.”