Inconsistency plagues Jacks in 1-1 weekend

Victoria Berndt, Sports Reporter

After tallying a win over North Dakota State in its first Summit League match of the season, the South Dakota State volleyball couldn’t keep the momentum going and fell to Western Illinois two days later.

The Jackrabbits struggled in nonconference play, so before hosting the Bison on Sept. 27 to kick off the conference schedule, coach Nicole Cirillo tweaked the lineup.

“With the different lineup it was a gamble to see how the girls would respond,” Cirillo said. “We saw exactly what I wanted to see out of the change which was exciting.”

NDSU took the first set, but SDSU responded, winning the next three to take the match, 3-1.

“Not being consistent in our performance made me unsure of where we were going to be so to start off conference with a win is a big sigh of relief,” Cirillo said. 

Cirillo hoped that the win would be what the team needed to get off the rollercoaster its been on to this point in the season and stay consistent, but that wasn’t the case in the Pink Match in Sioux Falls.

“Very disappointing that we came out super strong and couldn’t finish,” Cirillo said. “It was very different than what we saw against NDSU, but it comes back to that consistency … Learning how to win and understanding that winning isn’t easy is part of having a young team. Knowing that you have to fight for points because they aren’t given was a struggle against WIU.”

SDSU jumped out to a quick 2-0 set lead before WIU rallied to win 3-2. The loss dropped the Jacks to 4-10 on the season and 1-1 in conference heading into a Friday road matchup with the University of Denver.

The Pioneers are a traditionally strong program, but after finishing 27-3 a season ago, DU (9-5, 1-1) is showing some signs of vulnerability early in the 2019 campaign.

“I’m hoping that the team that played against NDSU shows up against Denver on Friday,” Cirillo said. “… Hopefully Denver’s loss shows our team that it can happen, but we have to put in the work. I think it is important for us to go out there and know that we are a good team and that we do the things we know we can do — we will be fine.”

Following the trip to Denver, the Jacks travel to Tulsa, Oklahoma, on Sunday to take on an Oral Roberts (4-12, 0-2) squad struggling to this point in the season.

“They are a little all over the board as well so again I think the biggest thing for me is being consistent. If we can just play our game, everything will be fine,” Cirillo said.

Rounding out a busy week, the University of South Dakota (13-1, 2-0) visits Frost Arena at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 8.

“They are good both offensively and defensively so we need to control the things that we can control,” Cirillo said.