SDSU comes up short in home tournament

Victoria Berndt, Sports Reporter

After three straight weekends of travel, the South Dakota State volleyball team hosted the Comfort Suites University Jackrabbit Invitational Sept. 20-21 in Frost Arena.

While the final match results didn’t favor the Jackrabbits, head coach Nicole Cirillo is proud of her team’s effort.

“We were super competitive overall, every match up was very close and intense,” Cirillo said. “I saw the exact same thing in the other tournaments, the highs the lows and we just can’t maintain the stability to meet our potential.” 

The Jacks (3-9) struggled to start the home tournament on Friday afternoon, losing to Valparaiso (5-8) in three sets but were able to regroup before taking the floor again that evening.

“It was a really good turnaround from the team compared to the afternoon game to tonight,” Cirillo said. 

Energy and atmosphere were huge for the Jacks on Friday night, as the Jacks were nearly able to take advantage of the home crowd and defeat a University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee team that had dropped only one contest coming into the weekend. Milwaukee (12-1) fell in the first two sets but, rallied to win 3-2 (25-22, 25-18, 21-25, 21-25, 10-15). 

“I hate using youth as an excuse, but there is some reality to it — you saw it tonight,” said Cirillo. “We played well, and I thought we played pretty consistent overall, but going up two sets to none — we let them in and just kept them hanging around and just couldn’t put it away.” 

Saturday, the Jacks had an interesting first set against the University of Missouri-Kansas City (4-6) when the Roos’ coach received a yellow card for getting animated with an official. SDSU took advantage, taking the first set, but the Jacks weren’t able to keep it up and fell 3-1.

“We controlled set one, had high energy, made things go our way, but Kansas City came out in set two and picked up their game,” Cirillo said. “I think Kansas City earned the majority of their points, but we just couldn’t find a way to stop them.”

SDSU will be back in action at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 27, inside Frost Arena for the first match of conference play against North Dakota State. On Sept 29, the Jacks host Western Illinois at 1 p.m. in Sioux Falls for their annual Pink Match.