SDSU splits five-set affairs


The SDSU volleyball team dropped a five-set final match against Bradley in the Jackrabbit Invitational last Saturday night.

The Braves won an up-and-down match, notching victories in sets two, three and five by scores of 25-19, 25-15 and 15-12, respectively.

“We got rattled, and we just didn’t bounce back out of it very well,” head coach Phil McDaniel said.

After a back-and-forth start to the opening set, the Jackrabbits settled down and cruised to a 25-21 win, led by tournament MVP Kaitlin Klingemann with five kills and fellow all-tournament team member Kelli Fiegen wIth four kills.

Sets two and three were different tales. The Jacks struggled early in set two and couldn’t string any offense together to muster a comeback. In set three, SDSU came out flat as the Jacks hitters couldn’t find any open floor.

“We were kind of on a roller coaster,” outside hitter Kelly Herrmann said. “We’d go down by a lot of points and then we’d come back…that’s probably the main thing we need to work on: being more steady and not have such dramatic peaks and valleys.”

SDSU came out strong in set four with the defense slowing the Bradley attack and the offense regaining some rhythm en route to a 25-13 blowout. All-tournament selection Shay Birath had seven digs in the set to also bolster the defense.

With a bit of momentum and a rowdy home crowd on their side, the Jackrabbits couldn’t overcome a slow start in set five and dropped the match 3-2.

Klingemann ended the match with a team-high 15 kills on 29 swings with three errors for a .414 hitting percentage. Fiegen was right behind with 14 kills and also led the team with three solo blocks and four block-assists.

“She’s (Klingemann) getting more comfortable, getting back into a rhythm and when she’s in rhythm, she’s hard to stop,” McDaniel said.

With each team in the tournament with a win and a loss, the champion came down to point differential, with SDSU coming out on top. While it may not have been the result he wanted, McDaniel liked the way his team competed.

“I really liked our fight (this weekend),” McDaniel said. “When we’re focused and we decide we’re going to push, we can really do some good things out there and we’re really hard to stop.”

The loss to Bradley snapped a five-match winning streak and dropped the Jackrabbits to 7-3 on the year with the end of the tournament portion of the schedule. After a disappointing 2011 season, the quick start has the Jacks looking good heading into conference play, which opens up Sept. 14, at Omaha and the conference home opener against North Dakota State Sept. 16.

“We’re ready to get (conference play) started. We’re in a good spot going in, so we have some confidence. But we were challenged in this tournament season. We played some good teams, and so I think we feel like we had a good run, built some confidence but also had some humbling experiences, like tonight (against Bradley). We’re just ready to put those into practice,” Herrmann said.