Finding a good match at SDSU

Kirk Danielson

Kirk Danielson

As high-school students, Kristie Klusaw and Minette Ridenour attended different schools, but played volleyball for the same team. That partnership followed them to the floor of Frost Arena at South Dakota State University.

SDSU Head Coach Andrew Palileo first recruited Klusaw when both girls played for a club volleyball team, the Nebraska Elite, which Klusaw described as “a sort of Junior Olympic team.” While playing for the Elite, which made the national tournament the girls’ senior year of high school, Ridenour caught his eye as well. Ridenour then visited the SDSU campus and committed two weeks later.

She returned to Omaha and asked, “Kristie, would it be OK if I go to the same school as you?”

Klusaw replied, “Yeah, that’d be great.”

Now, the seniors are in midst of their last year of play and determined to lead the 2006 Jackrabbit volleyball team through a successful season.

Under the leadership of Klusaw and Ridenour, the team started the season 5-0. The Jacks enter this weekend with a 7-3 record.

This is the first season the team is eligible for post-season play.

“If we have a good enough record, then we can go to the national tournament, but I don’t think an independent team has ever made it,” Klusaw said.

“But we can do it,” said Ridenour.

Klusaw, a health promotions major from Bellevue, Neb., was named MVP of the Jackrabbit Kickoff Tournament, in which the Jacks went 3-0. She earned the first Division I Independent Setter of the Week award for 2006. Last year, she was a second-team all-Independent selection at setter.

Ridenour, a biology major from Council Bluffs, Iowa, has already put together a solid season for the Jacks. The outside hitter has recorded eight double-doubles in 10 games this year. Last year, she was a first-team all-Independent selection. She also became the 10th player in SDSU history to top 1,000 career kills.

Since coming to SDSU together, the players have lived in the same residence hall on campus and been very good friends throughout their college careers.

“Our relationship has really grown here at SDSU,” Ridenour said.

Klusaw and Ridenour experienced the change from Division I to Division II athletics firsthand.

“It was a hard change, going from Division II to Division I,” Klusaw said. “The competition level did go up, because we knew we’d be playing bigger and quicker teams.”

Both girls fondly remember their volleyball trip to Hawaii in 2004 as a highlight of their time playing at SDSU.

“It was interesting seeing the different culture, because they live and breathe volleyball down there,” Klusaw said.

“We went to a luau, and saw so much,” said Ridenour. “It was a really fun experience.”

Ridenour and Klusaw have embraced Frost Arena and Brookings as home.

“I like it here (Brookings). It’s kind of homey. The community has been very supportive, and it’s a really friendly town,” Ridenour said.

After graduation, Klusaw looks forward to becoming a personal trainer in Omaha, while Ridenour plans to continue her education at SDSU, pursuing a master’s degree in nutrition.

#1.884343:244780078.jpg:vball02.jpg:Kristie Klusaw and Minette Ridenour have shared many victories at SDSU.:#1.884342:1228371710.jpg:vball01.jpg:Setter Kristie Klusaw and outside hitter Minette Ridenour play around after practicing for their tournament this weekend.: