Volleyball has highs and lows, in end earns conference, tournament titles in 2007

Ariy-El Boynton

Ariy-El Boynton

Andrew Palileo knew from the start of the season what he wanted from his four seniors in their last year of eligibility of their career at SDSU.

“I told the class of 2004, best-case scenario would be that your senior year we win the conference championships and compete for a national championship” he said.

That is exactly what they did as the Jacks won the first ever Summit League championships at Fort Wayne, Ind. The Jacks took care of their goals and were given the opportunity to move on to the NCAA Division I championships. The 2007 team was the first team ever given the right to move on in to Division I championships for South Dakota State University.

The University of Nebraska has one of the greatest home field advantages in all the land. They were the defending national champions and four-time Big 12 champions.

Palileo, although not very pleased with the draw, was looking forward to the exposure that playing at Nebraska could offer.

“A lot of great volleyball players in the state of Nebraska will get to see South Dakota State, and we’re not that far away,” he said.

Coming in with the attitude of having a chance to play spoiler, the Jackrabbit volleyball team focused on the positives of playing a great team.

“This is an opportunity for us for greatness. If we have an opportunity to beat them it will be great, because they are considered one of the best teams of all time,” said Palileo.

The results were not very good for the heavily underdog Jackrabbits as the taller, more experienced Cornhuskers defeated the Jackrabbits in front of 4,189 red clad screaming fans 3-0 in straight games. In the match SDSU earned a total of 40 points and committed 44 errors.

This season definitely saw some ups and downs for the Jackrabbit squad. After a loss to Tulane on Aug. 31, the Jackrabbits rolled off 13 straight victories and established themselves as the premier team in the Summit League. After the early winning streak, the Jacks missed the services of injured junior Mackenzie Angner when they lost four of the next five matches to Xavier, IPFW and Missouri State among others. Even during the 13-game winning streak, Palileo did not feel very well about his team performance. Despite his team’s winning streak he was still very concerned for his team.

The Jacks learned how to win without Angner and went on to win the Summit League regular season championships and a first seed in the conference tournament. They would use their number seed all the way to win the conference crown.

Despite not advancing past the first round of the NCAA tournament the Jackrabbits still had a very memorable year. The Jacks were led by the arguably the best senior class ever to wear the yellow and the blue.

The Summit League tournament most valuable player Amy Anderson departs from SDSU with a huge footprint in the school record books. She beat her own single season block-assists record from 2006, setting the 2007 record with 156 on the season, and was just shy of cracking the top ten in kills in a career. She finishing in 11th place all-time in kills with 1,195.

Kristina Martin will leave South Dakota State as the all-time kills career leader (1,765). She also is one of a few SDSU players who recorded more than 1,000 kills and more than 1,000 digs (1,074). The Jacks will also miss her leadership; she was named twice to the Division I Independent and in 2007 was named to the first team all-Summit League.

Second team all-Summit League Samantha Pearson made more records. She ended her career with more digs (1,929) than any other SDSU player in school history. Her 718 digs this season is number one all-time for a single season in SDSU history. She is arguably the best libero of all time in SDSU history.

All in all, the Jacks broke or tied 23 team or individual records. It is easy to say that the 2007 volleyball season-with many records broken, a tournament championship and advancement into the NCAA championships-will not be easily forgotten.