Jackrabbits in the hunt for Summit playoffs

Spencer Chase

The SDSU volleyball team finished their weekend road trip on both ends of a season sweep and held their tie for third place in the Summit League.

The Jackrabbit volleyball team (14-9, 6-5 Summit) completed their season sweep of Western Illinois (9-13, 3-8) with IUPUI (16-8, 9-3) completing their season sweep of SDSU consecutively on Oct. 19 and 20.

The Jacks started their weekend with a 3-1 victory at Western Illinois with a consistent performance from across the front line. Head coach Phil McDaniel said having four players with kills in the double figures has made SDSU a hard team to defend.

“When we can have four players performing that well, that makes it so the defense can’t key on one player,” McDaniel said. “That just opens up more scoring opportunities for us and allows everyone to play well.”

Kelli Fiegen and Margit Hansing led the way with 15 kills each, followed by Kaitlin Klingemann with 14 and Kelly Herrmann with 13. Defensively, the Jacks were led by libero Shay Birath with 26 digs and Hansing with 21.

Herrmann also collected her 1,000th dig with Klingemann recording her 1,000th kill in the match. McDaniel says the two seniors will be hard to replace.

“Two players like that are really hard to duplicate, not just because of the production you see on the court, but they’re both such hard-workers in the off-season,” McDaniel said. “They’ve both been really special parts of our program.”

The Jacks then headed to Indianapolis and suffered a 3-0 loss at the hands of Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis. A much more scattered performance was to blame on top of a .284 hitting performance from the Jaguars, which made it tough for SDSU to land a victory. The Jacks also had four players hit negative percentages, which McDaniel says puts pressure on others to step up.

“Two of those four were setters that were trying to mix things up a bit, so those two don’t bother us as much,” McDaniel said. “When you have a poor night like that, the other team doesn’t have to worry about you as much, so your teammates have to pick up the slack.”

One night after having four players with double digit kills, the Jacks had only one: Fiegen with a match-high 14. Herrmann had 9 kills followed by Bailey Philippot with 8. Defensively, Birath recorded a set-high 13 digs.

The Jacks now remain in a three-way tie for fourth place in the Summit League, something McDaniel is pleased with.

“I think we’re in a good spot,” McDaniel said. “Now we just have to keep working to control the things that we can control and get ready for the tournament in November.”

The Jacks will resume play with a home match against Oakland Oct. 26 and Oct. 27 against Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne. The Jacks will then play their final home game of the season against Iowa State University Oct. 30.