Volleyball falls to ranked Jayhawks in Lawrence

The South Dakota State volleyball team dropped all four matches this weekend at the Jayhawk Invitational in Lawrence, Kan.

The Jackrabbits faced another tough weekend to end their nonconference schedule as they took on University of Missouri-Kansas City and an undefeated Kansas University, the No.15 rated team in the AVCA top 25. They then faced Missouri State University and Gonzaga University.

The Jacks failed to win a set all weekend, losing in three straight sets all four games.

“Another rough weekend, we didn’t play as well as we have been, but definitely showed some fight and some progress.” said first-year Head Coach Nicole Cirillo.

During the four game stretch the Jacks only scored more than 15 points in one set.

“At moments we were good, at moments we really struggled,” Cirillo said. “They kept the ball on our side and were so far over the net on the block that made it hard for us to find holes. We just have to be more creative and find ways to put the ball on the floor.”

Junior outside hitter Nazya Thies continues to improve as she finished the tournament with 13 kills. Thies already has 92 kills in 16 matches compared to her 33 kills in 18 matches last season. 

“She’s continued to fight, she’s been working on getting better and eliminating some of those errors,” Cirillo said. “She has a powerful arm swing, we’re definitely working on getting her more tools to utilize during matches to make some of her attack numbers go up and we have seen progress in that over the last four weeks.” 

With the Jackrabbits finishing their nonconference slate with an overall record of 1-15, they are looking forward to playing some familiar faces.

“We definitely need to take what we learned from our last four weeks and apply them in order to be successful. It is an opportunity to say ‘this is our team, this what really counts and now it’s actually go time.’” Cirillo said.

There certainly are not any high expectations for this team heading into conference play as SDSU has lost their last 18 Summit League matches. Their last league win came at home against Western Illinois University Nov. 9, 2013.

“We have not put any numbers to anything. Right now I think our expectations are to continue to get better, given the teams that we have relatively competed with, I don’t think there should be much of an issue competing with our conference schools,” Cirillo said.

The Jackrabbits kick off Summit League play with back-to-back matches this weekend at Frost Arena when they take on the University of Nebraska-Omaha on Friday at 7 p.m. and Oral Roberts University on Saturday at 8 p.m.

“Omaha will be a good match, I think they have extra motivation because this is their first year being able to qualify for postseason play and Oral Roberts has always been strong and they have some young talent that we have to figure out how to combat,” Cirillo said.