Volleyball ends 10-game losing streak with win against Omaha

HANNAH NIEMAN Sports Reporter

The South Dakota State volleyball teamwent 1-1 this past weekend, ending a 10-game losing streak as they swept the University of Nebraska Omaha Friday night. 

The Jacks then fell to the University of South Dakota three sets to none Sunday afternoon, falling to 2-13 overall and 1-2 in Summit League play.

Senior Ashley Beaner led the offense with a match-high 15 kills against Omaha, while freshman Makenzie Hennen added 10 kills. Sophomore Mattison Munger finished with 33 set assists and 10 digs. Junior Ellie Benson recorded a match-high 24 digs.

The first set had 12 ties and seven lead changes before the Jacks won 25-23. In the second set, the Jacks took an early 10-5 lead, but Omaha came back to tie the game. It was then tied 10 more times until a kill from Hennen ended the set at 25-21. SDSU trailed late in the third set, but scored five consecutive points to come back and win 25-22. 

“We’ve had a few really good matches leading up to this, so obviously my hope was that it was only a matter of time before we put it together,” Head Coach Nicole Cirillo said. “Even facing adversity with some lineup things that are going on, on the team, we were still able to execute and more importantly fight for the match.”

Beaner also led the attack against USD, finishing with 14 kills and seven digs. Munger recorded her second consecutive double-double with 24 assists and 12 digs.

The Jacks took an early lead in both the first and second sets, but USD rallied back to win both of them by the score of 25-19. USD led from the beginning of the third set and closed the game with three consecutive kills to win it 25-15 and take the match three sets to none.

Cirillo said she was excited about her team’s ability to continually push back against Omaha when they would get down, but that the team went backward in that aspect when playing USD. 

“I think we continued to fight on the defensive front. We fought hard and we fought until about 15 points and then they kicked it into high gear and we didn’t,” Cirillo said. “We couldn’t come up with the answers for their offense at that point. From the mental standpoint, that is something we are going to continue to work on.” 

The Jacks will travel west to take on the University of Denver at 8 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 7 in Denver at Magness Arena. The Pioneers are the two-time defending Summit League regular season and tournament champions. 

Denver was also voted as the 2016 Summit League preseason favorite and will come into the match 10-5 overall and 2-1 in the Summit League.

The Pioneers have an attack percentage of .261 on the season and 2.47, which are both the best in The Summit League. They also average 13.35 kills per set which is second best in the league.

Denver is led in offense by Junior Kayla Principato who has 146 kills on the season, followed closely by Ruth Okoye with 120 kills. Senior setter Monique Domme leads the Pioneers in assists with 294. 

On defense, the Pioneers are led by junior Cassidy Rooke who has 197 total digs and Okoye who has 62 total blocks. Okoye is also the best in The Summit League in blocks per set with 1.19.

The Jacks come into the matchup averaging 11.14 kills per set and an attack percentage of .136, both of which are second to last in The Summit League. They also average 1.39 blocks per set, which is last in the league.

Ashley Beaner leads SDSU offense with 172 kills and 3.51 in kills per set, which is fourth best in The Summit League. Munger leads the team in assists, averaging 9.13 per set, which is fourth in the league.

Denver leads the all-time series 6-2 and have won six in-a-row against the Jacks. SDSU has been swept in 10 of their 13 losses this season and is 0-3 on the road. Denver is 4-1 at home this year and have swept five teams in their 10 wins.