SDSU to host Comfort Suites University Jackrabbit Invitational


Abby Fullenkamp

ABBY FULLENKAMP The South Dakota State volleyball team is still in rebuilding mode during head coach Nicole Cirillo’s third season. The Jacks are currently 2-19 and want to use the rest of the season to learn for next year.

John Begeman

South Dakota State’s volleyball team will host the Comfort Suites University Jackrabbit Invitational this weekend in Frost Arena.

This will be the second year in a row the Jacks will play host to a tournament. 

The participating teams will include the Seattle Redhawks, Weber State Wildcats and the Green Bay Phoenix.

The Jacks are fresh off the UMKC Invitational in Kansas City, Missouri this past weekend where they lost three games to UMKC, Austin Peay and Western Michigan. Losing in three sets to UMKC and four sets to Austin Peay and Western Michigan.

“I feel extremely optimistic,” said head coach Nicole Cirillo. “We had three freshmen on the court and it will be exciting to see what can happen as they get more comfortable playing together.”

Freshmen Ellie Thein, Crystal Burk and Sydney Andrews look to be contributors to this year’s success and will see the court often.

The Jacks lost a lot of leadership when libero Ellie Benson graduated last year.

Captains this season are junior outside hitter Ashlynn Smith and senior setter Mattison Munger. 

Along with them, senior outside hitter Sierra Peterson looks to play a critical role in leading a young team.

“I try to lead by example,” Peterson said. “Especially to the younger girls on the team. Our team motto this year is ‘locked in’ whether that’s in the gym, community or academics.”

Cirillo said that she expects tough competetion this weekend. Green Bay looks to be the tournament favorite. The Phoenix are coming off a season in which they went 17-16. 

“We got better every match last weekend and only time will tell if that will ultimately turn into wins,” Cirillo said. 

Both Cirillo and Peterson talked about the team’s overall goal of reaching the conference tournament.

South Dakota State returns to action at 7 p.m. Aug. 30 when it opens the Comfort Suites University Jackrabbits Invitational vs. Seattle University in Frost Arena.