A balanced hitting attack which saw five players record nine kills or more helped the South Dakota volleyball team earn a 25-20, 23-25, 25-18, 17-25, 15-11 win over Western Illinois in Summit League action Friday night in Macomb, Ill.
With the win, the Coyotes improved to 13-13 overall and 6-7 in the Summit League, while Western Illinois dropped to 11-14 overall and 3-11 in conference play.
It was the fifth straight five-set match for the Coyotes, who are 6-4 in five-set matches on the season.
Freshman Kendall Kritenbrink (Gretna, Neb.) led the way with 22 kills for the Coyotes, while senior Tahnee Reed (Pierce, Neb.) added 13. Sophomore Natalie Walseth (Inver Grove Heights, Minn.) had 10 kills, while junior Lindsey Sathre (Maple Grove, Minn.) and sophomore Amber Aschoff (Ankeny, Iowa) each recorded nine kills. Sophomore Tori Kroll (Germantown, Wis.) had 57 set assists and 13 digs, while Sathre led with three solo blocks and three assists.
Senior Carol Logato (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) had 29 digs, while freshman Riley Haug (Gretna, Neb.) had 22 and Kritenbrink 19.
The Coyotes lost the fourth set to set up a deciding fifth set. In the final set, they took an early 3-1 lead, with Kritenbrink and Reed each accounting for kills.
Western Illinois cut the lead to 5-4, but the Coyotes scored three straight – two on kills by Aschoff and one on a kill by Sathre – to take an 8-4 lead. The Leathernecks cut the lead 12-11, but the Coyotes weathered the rally. A kill from Walseth made it 13-11, and back-to-back kills from Kritenbrink and Walseth finished off a 15-11 Coyote win.
“It was our best set as far as offensively doing the little things we need to do,” South Dakota head coach Matt Houk said. “It culminated with us bringing it all together and finishing the match off.”
The Coyotes led 9-8 in the first set but scored five straight points to take a 14-8 lead. Sathre had a kill, a solo block and a block assist during that stretch, while Logato had a service ace.
“She’s gone out and earned a spot,” Houk said of Sathre. “She was a big factor in why we blocked as well as we did. She was huge. And she had some timely kills for us.”
South Dakota stretched the lead to 23-15 on a Kritenbrink kill. The Leathernecks cut the margin to 24-20, but an Aschoff kill finished off a 25-20 Coyote win.
The Coyotes hit just .082 in the first set, but limited Western Illinois to a -.067 percentage. Kritenbrink led the way with five kills, while Aschoff had three. Sathre had three solo blocks and a block assist.
Western Illinois jumped out to a 7-2 lead in the second set, but the Coyotes came back with four straight points – three on kills by Reed – to cut the gap to 7-6.
The Leathernecks pushed the lead to 14-9, but again, the Coyotes scored four straight points – with Reed accounting for a kill and a block, while Sathre and Aschoff each added kills – to cut the lead to 14-13. South Dakota took its first lead of the set at 21-20 when Sathre and Walseth teamed up for a block. The Coyotes held a 22-21 lead, but Western Illinois scored three straight – two coming on Coyote errors – to take a 24-22 lead. An Aschoff kill brought the Coyotes within 24-23, but a South Dakota hitting error gave the Leathernecks a 25-23 win.
South Dakota bounced back in the third set. The Coyotes led 9-8 but scored five straight – taking advantage of three Leatherneck attack errors to take a 14-8 lead.
The Coyotes controlled the set the first of the way on their way to a 25-18 win. South Dakota hit .132 in the set, but held Western Illinois to just -.095 in hitting percentage. Kritenbrink had four kills, while Sathre had three.
South Dakota couldn’t finish the match in four, however, as Western Illinois broke open a game that was 8-7 at one point with seven straight points to extend the advantage to 15-7. The Coyotes never got closer than seven the rest of the way and fell, 25-17, as the Leathernecks forced a fifth set.
The Coyotes prevailed in the fifth set to record the road victory.
Reed and Walseth each had two solo blocks and two block assists for the Coyotes, who finished with 15 team blocks.
“We did a really good job – we blocked and defended well,” Houk said. “It was one of our highest block totals of the year. We had a really balanced attack; we had a lot of hitters take a lot of swings.”
The Coyotes continue the road trip with a match at Indiana University-Purdue University-Indianapolis on Saturday. The match begins at 6 p.m. Central time in Indianapolis, Ind.
“When we’re focused and at our best, we are extremely good,” Houk said. “We are just inconsistent. We have to bust through that inconsistency, and hopefully we can finish the season out strong.” Courtesy: Tom Berg, USD
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