Jacks stay winless in Summit League play, shift focus to USD

MIRANDA+SAMPSON+Junior+outside+hitter+Makenzie+Hennen+%283%29+goes+up+for+the+kill+during+the+SDSU+Jackrabbits+vs+Omaha+Mavericks+volleyball+match+Friday%2C+Sept.+21+in+Frost+Arena.+The+Jackrabbits+lost+3-1+and+will+return+to+Frost+Arena+against+University+of+South+Dakota+2+p.m.+Sunday%2C+Oct.+7.
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Jacks stay winless in Summit League play, shift focus to USD

MIRANDA SAMPSON Junior outside hitter Makenzie Hennen (3) goes up for the kill during the SDSU Jackrabbits vs Omaha Mavericks volleyball match Friday, Sept. 21 in Frost Arena. The Jackrabbits lost 3-1 and will return to Frost Arena against University of South Dakota 2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 7.

MIRANDA SAMPSON Junior outside hitter Makenzie Hennen (3) goes up for the kill during the SDSU Jackrabbits vs Omaha Mavericks volleyball match Friday, Sept. 21 in Frost Arena. The Jackrabbits lost 3-1 and will return to Frost Arena against University of South Dakota 2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 7.

MIRANDA SAMPSON Junior outside hitter Makenzie Hennen (3) goes up for the kill during the SDSU Jackrabbits vs Omaha Mavericks volleyball match Friday, Sept. 21 in Frost Arena. The Jackrabbits lost 3-1 and will return to Frost Arena against University of South Dakota 2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 7.

MIRANDA SAMPSON Junior outside hitter Makenzie Hennen (3) goes up for the kill during the SDSU Jackrabbits vs Omaha Mavericks volleyball match Friday, Sept. 21 in Frost Arena. The Jackrabbits lost 3-1 and will return to Frost Arena against University of South Dakota 2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 7.

John Begeman

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One.

That’s the number of sets the South Dakota State volleyball team (3-14, 0-4) has won in the past two weeks, resulting in a five-game losing streak.

Opening the weekend Friday in Fargo the Jacks played an energized North Dakota State team backed by over 1,000 Bison fans.

After three errors in the first set, the Jacks found themselves trailing 19-8 before going on to lose their first set 25-15. In the second set, the Jacks found themselves tied with the Bison 19-19 until the Bison went on a 6-1 run to win the set. The Jacks then lost set three 25-17 to end the night as the Bison (4-12,1-2) picked up their first conference win.

“I was extremely disappointed on Friday night,” head coach Nicole Cirillo said. “I thought it was going to be a competitive match, but NDSU came out with a lot of energy and beat us easily.”

Junior outside hitter Makenzie Hennen is averaging 3.42 kills per set as she leads the team offensively, but was held in check this weekend logging nine kills in two games.

With the offensive production down, junior outside hitter Ashlynn Smith stepped up with nine kills and eight digs in the match followed closely by senior outside hitter Sierra Peterson, who also logged nine kills.

“Mackenzie was struggling, so I had to step up and fill that role,” Smith said.

On Saturday, the road trip didn’t get any easier as the Jacks were swept by the University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks.

UND was led by senior middle hitter Jordan Vail, who had 10 kills in the match. For the Jacks, Smith rose to the occasion again to lead the Jacks in another strong offensive showing with 12 kills and two blocks.

“We competed better with UND,” Cirillo said. “We clearly have things to work on. After this weekend, we’re halfway through conference play, and the reality of time is starting to catch up with us.”

The Jacks’ upcoming week looks to be pivotal.

The team will host long-time rival USD touting a (10-6, 4-0) record.

Undefeated in Summit League play, the University of South Dakota Coyotes are led by senior outside hitter Hayley Dotseth, who averages 3.9 kills and 3.48 digs per set.

“There is no easy match coming up,” Cirillo stated. “We have five days of practice in order to get better and properly prepare for what we’ll face.”

The Jacks will then travel to Tulsa, Oklahoma to play the Oral Roberts Golden Eagles (3-12, 0-3). The Golden Eagles are currently riding an eight-game losing streak including three conference games. The Eagles are led by junior outside hitter CeCe Madison, who averages 3.03 kills per set.

This full week of practice will be critical in deciding if the Jacks can turn their season around.

“We need to be hungry to get better and improve every single day,” Smith said. “We just haven’t been on our game in practice and that’s an area we can really improve.”

South Dakota State returns to the court  7 p.m., Oct. 7 when it hosts South Dakota in a South Dakota Corn Showdown Series match in Frost Arena.

“This is our rival, we have to show out,” Cirillo said. “We must compete better from point one to 25 in every set.”