The SDSU Volleyball team earned their first home victory of the season during the SDSU Challenge over the weekend.
The Jacks entered the weekend with a record of 3-4. Their first game of the tournament was against UND. The Jacks lost all three sets by scores of 25-17, 25-15, and 25-10.
The Jacks bounced back in the second game of the tournament winning three sets to two against Florida International University. SDSU’s attack percentage surpassed .400 in their winning the first two sets 25-18 and 25-17. They dropped the next two sets 25-18 and 25-16 sending them into the fifth and deciding set which they won 15-13.
Sophomore middle blocker Tiara Gibson led the Jacks with a career high 14 kills and 6 blocks which put her on her way to the SDSU Challenge All-Tournament team honors. Several of those kills and blocks came in the pivotal fifth set.
“I had a reach call over the net and I told Brooke, just give me the ball and I’ll redeem myself.” Gibson said.
Libero Alanna Pengilly had 22 digs in the match, just one shy of her career high.
“Knowing that my back row is there and that they have my back it takes a lot of pressure off of me.” Gibson said of Pengilly’s contributions. “Alanna was a huge source of energy.”
“Energy and just overall team effort [were the difference between the UND and FIU games,” said head coach Phil McDaniel. “They were focused on coming together between points, giving each other that energy and making sure that every point was important and they played like that tonight.”
For the Jacks it was their first home win of the season after dropping their first four in Frost Arena.
“It’s a great feeling, we love playing at Frost and we love the fans and we just felt like we weren’t doing our fans, Brookings and Frost Arena, we just weren’t doing it justice” Gibson said. “It was getting loud in here and it was just so fun and hopefully it will keep the crowd coming out because people love to see people who win and people love to see people who love to play Volleyball.”
The jacks fell in their final two games of the tournament on Saturday, losing in three sets to both Eastern Illinois University and the University of Iowa.
“Obviously had our ups and downs and when we’re playing on the upside of that swing, we look really good and things are solid. When we get down there’s a lot of things to fix,” McDaniel said. “Overall [I’m] happy with our effort in most of our matches. We had a couple sets where we let get away from us, where our energy and focus got away from us. If we can continue to develop on that we’re gonna win more than we lose.”
Outside hitter Mikala Hora went down with a lower leg injury in the second set, but McDaniel said he was optimistic about the injury.
“I think it’s just a sprain,” McDaniel said. “So hopefully we’ll get her back soon.”
The Jacks had an attendance of 807 which was there largest attendance since Nov. 9, 2012.
“It’s awesome,” McDaniel said about the attendance. “It just shows that the community loves the sport and cares about SDSU volleyball and tonight I think we really showed them that they need to come back because we need them every night” He added that “It’s great to get a Big Ten team like Iowa and just having a fun environment.”
Middle Blockers Wagner Larson and Gibson were named to the All-Tournament team. Larson had 27 kills and 7 blocks while Gibson had 29 kills and 17 blocks during the tournament.