Volleyball falls to Coyotes in season finale

By SCOTT ENGEN Sports Reporter

The South Dakota State volleyball team lost their final match of the season to South Dakota in Vermillion on Saturday. They lost in three sets, 25-11, 25-15 and 25-23.

The Jacks end the season with a record of 5-23 overall and 4-12 in league play. USD, finished up the season 24-6 and 13-3. The Coyotes are co-champions of the Summit League.

“We did some things well, we just weren’t good enough to combat what they (USD) were doing,” said SDSU Head Coach Nicole Cirillo. 

In the box score, USD dominated SDSU in every category except blocks. Freshman Elizabeth Loschen led the Coyotes with 14 kills. Junior Brittany Jessen racked up 38 assists and sophomore Lauren Mattison got 17 digs for USD. 

The Jackrabbits were led by senior Ashley Beaner, who had 12 kills. Freshman Ashlynn Smith had 3 blocks, sophomore Mattison Munger recorded 29 assists and 13 digs and junior Ellie Benson added 14 digs, which led the team. 

“USD plays a great game of volleyball, they don’t give a lot of points … we had to earn a lot of our points, and they did a great job of passing well and running their offense,” Cirillo said. 

The two teams had about the same amount of errors: 12 for SDSU and 11 for USD, but the Coyotes tallied 13 more kills than the Jacks.

SDSU will lose six seniors this year: Megan Farnham, Brooke Letham, Nazya Thies, Ashley Beaner, Mikala Hora and Garet Miliner. SDSU lost five seniors last year, so coach Cirillo knows how to handle player turnover. 

“Losing half the team to graduation means we have to gain another half of the team moving into next year, and we already discussed that on the bus ride home on Saturday,” Cirillo said.

The team will be very young next season, with only one senior in Ellie Benson. 

“We will have a lot of time to break down their skills and rebuild them. We will be transitioning a few girls into some different positions,” Cirillo said. “Being able to teach them the expectations and how to play that position, versus what they did all fall will be fun and new challenge for those girls.”