Jacks lose in semifinal round, ends season


Defensive specialist Tatum Pickar hits the ball during the USD game Friday.

Chloe Risse, Reporter

The Jackrabbit volleyball finished their season this weekend with the program’s first winning record in nine years, achieving an overall record of 19-12. 

Being the first appearance in the Summit League Tournament since 2010 and only the third appearance in program history, it was a big weekend for the Jacks.

“I think we are all very happy with how much growth the program has seen in the last calendar year,” coach Dan Georgalas said.

The Jackrabbits volleyball team improved this season under instruction of the second-year coach. Georgalas was hired in December of 2019 but did not coach a normal season until last spring due to COVID-19.

Senior Crystal Burk was honored with a spot on the Summit League first team. Ella Thompson was also honored with a place on the Summit League’s All-Freshman team.

The tournament was hosted at the Sanford Coyote Sports Center on the University of South Dakota’s campus. The Jackrabbits came into the tournament as the sixth seed, but that did not slow the team down. They upset third-seeded Denver in the first round and then lost in a very close match against No. 2 seed  South Dakota in round two.

“We were the hottest team there and the list of things we have accomplished this season is pretty extensive,” Georgalas said.

The Jackrabbits fell short in overtime in the fifth set against the Coyotes. The final scores of each set were: 25-20, 18-25, 20-25, 26-24, 16-18.

The Jackrabbits fought hard in the fifth set, tying the game 13 times. The Jacks took an early 1-0 lead after an attack error by the Coyotes. A service error by the Jackrabbits tied the game early at 1-1. A couple kills by Burk later put the Jacks at a 3-2 lead. SDSU had a hard time stopping Coyote junior, Elizabeth Juhnke. She finished the fifth set with seven kills. 

The Jackrabbits lost their lead late in the set, allowing the Coyotes to take a 13-10 lead. Burk and Thompson both answered with kills, allowing the Jacks to be back in the set. A kill by Juhnke and two attack errors by the Jackrabbits concluded the game, with the Coyotes on top.

Burk, Chloe Stitt and Thompson led the team with 19, 16 and nine kills respectively. Senior Tatum Pickar led the team in aces with four, followed by Burk with two. Freshman Elyse Winter and Thompson both had four blocks. This was followed with three by Sydney Andrews. Jasmine Weideman had 26 assists. Pickar, Burk and Weideman all dug the ball well with 20, 17 and 14 digs respectively.

But the Jackrabbits had to overcome Denver before heading into the USD game. Denver had swept the Jacks two times earlier in the season. The Jacks overcame Denver in five sets: 19-25, 25-23, 21-25, 25-23, 15-10.

Stitt achieved the most kills in this game with 12. Burk had 12, followed by Thompson with nine. Burk also had the most aces in this game with three. Winter also achieved one ace. The Jackrabbits defense was tough with over 20 blocks. Hailee Blau achieved eight blocks alone. Thompson had seven blocks and Andrews had five. Junior Carly Wedel helped the team with 28 assists. Pickar and Burk played tough defense also with 17 and 16 digs respectively.

“We are going to look forward to a new recruiting season and a full off-season of training,” Georgalas said.