Jacks head to Texas for more tournament play

Victoria Berndt, Sports Reporter

Coming off a 1-2 weekend in Illinois over Labor Day weekend, the young South Dakota State University volleyball team looks to keep gaining experience this weekend in Beaumont, Texas.

“We had a lot of new people on the floor and there were a lot of them who had to work through some things,” coach Nicole Cirillo said of her team’s performance last weekend.

One of those players fighting through adversity was Crystal Burk. The sophomore outside hitter was cleared to come back from injury just one day before the season-opening match against Memphis. Burk ended the first weekend with 42 kills, with 19 of those coming in the first match.

“Burk has the tools and she always has,” Cirillo said. “Last weekend she came out and showed us that she has learned and grown as an athlete and as a player on the court so that was really exciting.”

SDSU plays Louisiana Monroe in its first game of the Katrinka Crawford Invitational at 10 a.m. Friday, Sept. 6.

“I have personally never played against or coached any of these teams, but it’ll be something different and that’s why I picked this tournament,” Cirillo said. “It is always good to see different types of competition, it gets us out of the state to see a different type and style of play.”

The program is hoping to prepare for Summit League play by matching up against different types of teams during nonconference play.

During practice this week, the Jacks have been working on “cleaning up” some things that cost them last weekend in order to improve for the next three tournaments and conference play.

“Working through expectations is something that we have been hitting on during practice,” Cirillo said. “Other than that, we have been preparing everyone on the team for games.”

Rounding out the Jacks’ weekend schedule are matchups with Lamar University at 7 p.m. Friday and Prairie View A&M at 10 a.m. Saturday.

“This is going to be a competitive tournament, but we are set up for this tournament to do some good things,” Cirillo said. “We still have to show up and perform at a high level, but they are all in the same spot as we are. We are all trying to build something.”