Jacks start out their season strong but fall in home opener

SCOTT ENGEN Sports Reporter

The South Dakota State volleyball team lost their home opener at Frost Arena this past Sunday falling to the Bradley University Braves 25-21, 25-21 and 25-20. With the loss, the Jackrabbits fall to 1-7 on the season. 

The Jacks came out strong in all three sets but fizzled as it played out. 

“We tightened up and we just played real rigid. That’s where we struggle the most, with the mental side of the game.” Head Coach Nicole Cirillo said.

There were 13 ties in the first set, but Bradley went on a 3-0 run to take a 22-19 lead and didn’t look back. In the second set, the score was tied at 14 when the Braves went on a 5-1 run. The Jacks cut the lead to 22-20 but Bradley would still take the set.

 In the final set SDSU jumped out to an 9-4 lead but, Bradley would come back tying the game at 11. The teams would then trade points and SDSU took a 17-15 lead. Bradley would then use a 10-3 run to close out the Jacks and win the match.

“Throughout the entire match we played well and statistically we were in it the entire time,” Cirillo said. 

SDSU had 42 kills, 18 errors, 41 assists and 38 digs. On the other side of the court, Bradley had 47 kills, 12 errors, 43 assists and 42 digs. While the stats are close, Bradley managed to top the Rabbits in every major category except for blocks where the Jacks had six to Bradley’s one.

Bradley (3-4) was led by Erica Haslag, who had 18 kills. Other standouts for the Braves were Taylor Thiele who had 11 kills and Afton Sobasky 25 assists. 

Key performers from the Jacks included senior Ashley Beaner, freshman Makenzie Hennen, sophomore Mattison Munger and sophomore Sierra Peterson. Beaner led the team with kills with 14, but had a team high six errors as well. Hennen contributed with eight kills and Munger tallied 35 assists. Peterson, who transferred from Bradley, had a career-high seven kills. 

“(Peterson) is playing middle for us, and she’s not a middle,” Cirillo said “I know a lot of her kills came on the outside, and that’s where we need to be creative in what we’re doing right now.” 

This upcoming weekend the Jacks will be hitting the road for a tournament in Valparaiso, Indiana. They will square off against Central Michigan University and Duquesne University on Friday, then they will play Valparaiso on Saturday. This will be the third tournament this season for the Jacks and they will be looking to break their five game losing streak and work on eliminating mental errors and playing free this week in practice.