Volleyball loses to Denver in Summit League tournament

Brayden Byers, Sports Reporter

The South Dakota State volleyball team saw its conference title hopes end Thursday after a hard-fought loss to fourth-seeded Denver in the quarterfinals of the Summit League tournament.

SDSU and Denver met in a rematch of last season’s conference semifinal. It was a match that featured 54 ties and 20 lead changes throughout and was an entertaining one, to say the least.

The two teams met two more times in the regular season this year, with the Jacks losing both times. The first meeting was Sept. 22 in Brookings and SDSU lost in three sets in their first conference game of the season.

The Jackrabbits and Pioneers met again in Denver Oct. 22 and SDSU was swept in three sets. The Jacks entered Thursday’s quarterfinal matchup hoping to win and make a run at the Summit League title. And they were nearly able to get it done. But SDSU’s efforts resulted in their first five-set loss of the season.

Crystal Burk finished off her illustrious career in yellow and blue with 25 kills, which was just two shy of her career high. She also recorded 95 attacks, the highest single-match total in the nation this year.

Raegen Reilly also had a good night to cap off her first season as a Jackrabbits after transferring from North Dakota State. She totaled 52 assists, passing the 2,000 career mark and becoming SDSU’s single-season leader.

Throughout the match, the two teams kept it close. Two sets required extra points to be decided and no set was won by more than three points.

The two teams went back and forth in the first set as SDSU pushed the first set to extra points before finishing it off at 32-30. And despite trailing the set 17-10, the Jacks rallied and also won the third set 26-24 in extras.

Denver then won the second and fourth sets 25-22 to push the match to a fifth set. The Pioneers then took that fifth set 15-12 after taking an early 7-4 lead to win the match.

The Pioneers were led in attacking by Hailey Green who had a match-high 32 kills and Memphis Glasgow added 22. Emma Ziegler led with 68 assists and Giana Bartalo finished with 40 digs.

Masa Scheierman and Ella Thompson each finished with 11 kills to go along with Burke’s 25, putting three Jacks over 10 kills on the day. Jadyn Makovicka led with 28 digs while Alia Schlimgen did her part adding 16. Both Makovicka and Faith Saewert had an ace.

The Jackrabbits are 17-14 overall and 11-7 in the Summit League. They will now head to the National Invitational Volleyball Championship, where they’ll take on Louisiana Friday in the first round in Texas.

Denver will advance to take on No. 1 seed South Dakota in Omaha on Friday at 4 p.m.