VERMILLION, S.D. (KELO) — The University of South Dakota announced Kayla Karius as their new women’s basketball coach in her introductory press conference on Monday.

Karius returns to Vermillion following a two year stint as an assistant coach under coach Dawn Plitzuweit from, 2016-2018.

“I think it’s really starting to set in. Really seeing all of the familiar faces today while walking into the offices and seeing familiar coaching friends and administration,” USD head coach Kayla Karius said. “It’s so good to be back! I can’t even explain the feeling. It just really, truly feels like home.”

“Knowing her is one thing, but it wasn’t until I started talking to other coaches that she had coached with and for, that it was really evident that was someone I wanted to have another conversation with,” USD Athletics Director David Herbster said. “We had a chance to talk to her one-on-one and I could tell right away, she was ready to be a head coach.”

Kayla Karius and family

Her time in Vermillion was eventful as she was key in recruiting Hannah Sjerven, Chloe Lamb, Liv Korngable, Monica Arens, Allison Peplowski and much more.

Karius learned a lot while in Vermillion, but the biggest takeaway from her time with the Yotes, was the relationships that she built.

“Well, I had a unique experience meeting the team, because I have so many past relationships with them. For almost every player in that room, I either helped recruit them or I at least spoke with them on the phone at some point, whether I was at USD or just still in the Midwest region,” Karius said. “Just to have already, that familiarity with each other. To walk in, I gave each of them a hug and called them by their first names and truly for me, that was like a past relationship that we were able to connect. When you have that, it’s even more special.”

“From one element to understanding Vermillion, understanding the University of South Dakota and really understanding the program here. Not only the athletic department, but the women’s basketball program, she got us,” Herbster said. “She knew who we were and she helped in that transition from the WNIT Championship to the new staff with coach Plitzuweit.

Karius inherits a program that is coming off its deepest run in the NCAA Tournament.

The USD women’s basketball team has won three straight Summit League Tournament titles, along with qualifying for four consecutive NCAA Tournaments.

USD women in Waco, Texas

This past season, the Coyotes earned their first two wins in NCAA Tournament history with wins over Ole Miss and Baylor. USD then played in their first ever Sweet 16.

“The foundation has truly been laid for this program and not just recently, though recently they made a great, great run at it, but all through the years, this program has continued to take steps forward,” Karius said. “We’re so excited to be here and continue to take that to the next step and to continue the success that this program has already had.”

“You needed to find someone who could continue the success here. To me, there was going to no exhale in this process, we were going to just keep moving forward,” Herbster said. “I think we were very particular with the qualities and characteristics of the candidates that we were looking at and I think you should.”

The 2022-23 basketball season doesn’t start for seven months, but Karius and the Coyotes have work to get done.

“It starts this week with spending a bit more time with the current team that’s here and getting in the gym with them as well as putting together a staff and having the players meet those people who are going to be around them,” Karius said.