South Dakota State Senior Steph Paluch has waited for this moment since she was a standout at Pierre high school. She has overcome a lot in the last two years, but it was all worth it.
Steph Paluch became a starter her junior year at SDSU and helped lead the Jacks to the Summit League semifinals to defend their title. They won the game, but they lost Paluch to a knee injury that sidelined her for her senior season. She was granted a medical redshirt to play as a fifth year senior.
"When the injury happened I knew that I couldn't do anything at that moment, so my focus was just on the future and getting better. I didn't know if I would be able to play last year or not, since I couldn't I wanted to learn from that senior class and what they went through. This year I wanted to propel the program forward by working hard," SDSU Senior Steph Paluch said.
She came back stronger and better than ever by being named to the All-Summit League Second Team averaging 11 points per contest in the regular season. Now in the WNIT she is racking up a team high 17 points and coming up huge late in games.
"Seniors are great, they really carry you this time of year and if they don't play well you will have a hard time succeeding. Steph has played wonderful lately by picking up her scoring. She is shooting the ball well and being aggressive offensively," SDSU Head Coach Aaron Johnston said.
"Having Steph back is awesome. She has made a big difference on and off the court for us. I think we have done a great job with senior leadership and keeping the team on the same page," SDSU Senior Hannah Strop said.
If the team can stay on the same page tonight in El Paso, Paluch and the Jackrabbits will have a chance to play the championship game one last time in Frost Arena.
"I hope it happens," Paluch said. "We are excited about this game. It will be a little different for us going on the road. It's fun to play at Frost Arena and if that does happen it would be insane and make for good memories. I'm looking forward to whatever happens."