Volleyball aims to turn corner in Summit play

Victoria Berndt, Sports Reporter

Heading into last Sunday’s matchup with North Dakota, the South Dakota State volleyball team needed a win to snap a four-game losing streak — and it got just that.  

“We came out strong and we executed at a high rate in set one,” said SDSU coach Nicole Cirillo.

Although they came out strong in set one, the Jacks struggled in set two — the only set they dropped on the afternoon.

“Set two was a little rocky,” Cirillo said. “We did gain momentum at the end of the set which helped us to move forward into set three.”

The win was especially noteworthy for the Jacks given senior standout Makenzie Hennen had one of her lower scoring matches.

“To finish with a win even when Hennen wasn’t playing her best game was good,” Cirillo said. “Part of the problem, I think, was we were trying to figure out what to do without her. We have relied so heavily on her that it is a different game when she’s not on. … We had other players who stepped up. Crystal Burk played fantastic as well as Ashlynn Smith, Tori Thompson and Anna Nerad.”

Burk led all Jacks with 18 kills, followed by Smith with 11.

Moving forward, SDSU (5-13, 2-4 Summit) hosts Purdue Fort Wayne (11-9, 5-1 Summit) ay 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 18 in Frost Arena in the final match of a three-match homestand.

“They are on fire,” Cirillo said. “We are expecting them to come out super confident. We have to be able to match their intensity to create the opportunity to take the match from them.”

PFW comes to Brookings having won eight of its last nine matches and sits at second in the Summit League standings.

Following the PFW matchup, the Jacks start a three-match road streak with Omaha (10-11, 3-4 Summit) at 7 p.m. Oct. 21.

“It’s going to be no different,” Cirillo said. “It’s going to be a hard one because we are on the road so playing on their home court makes a difference.”