SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — The USD volleyball team was down two sets to none, but they rattled off three straight set victories to claim a 3-2 match decision over Denver, claiming their second ever Summit League championship.
“The thing that I was most proud about with our team is the fact that we were down in almost every single set, if not every single set and we had to fight back, stay gritty and be resilient,” USD head coach Leanne Williamson said. “I think, in that situation our backs were against the wall and I think, if you would’ve caught us in that situation two weeks ago, we would’ve responded very differently.”
“We just focused on our side, we knew what we had to do,” USD senior Sami Slaughter said. “We didn’t let one play dictate the entire match, so we just went out, played Coyote volleyball and focused on what we could do.”
The top-seeded Pioneers came out swinging in the first set as they led 15-12 heading into the media timeout. Denver closed the set on a 10-7 run, earning them a 25-19 set victory.
Set two was perhaps the most exciting set of the evening, as Denver led 22-17 late in the set. However, USD sparked a 7-1 run to take a 24-23 lead.
The two teams went back and forth, but ultimately it was the Pioneers who finally nabbed the set point to win 28-26.
Down two sets to none, the Coyotes knew they had to find a rhythm soon and they did just that.
USD would win sets three and four, though they weren’t easy.
The Yotes took set three, 27-25 and set four, 26-24.
The Pioneers started strong in the fifth set as they jumped out to a 4-0 lead, but the Coyotes came back fighting.
USD evened the set at eight a piece and the from then on, the set remained extremely close.
The Coyotes were finally able to score three straight points and that led to a 19-17 win over Denver.
“This year has been tough, they’ve been in tough situations, they’ve lost matches that they didn’t want to lose or didn’t think that they should lose. They continued to trust, they continued to believe in what Coyote volleyball is all about and what we could accomplish if we continued to move forward,” Williamson said.
“I think we’re a very tight knit group, I don’t think I’ve ever been part of a team that is closer. We’re all best friends and it really shows on the court with how excited we get for each other and how much we just love this game and the people around us,” USD sophomore Elizabeth Juhnke said.
Elizabeth Juhnke, Sami Slaughter and Lolo Weideman were named to the Summit League All-Tournament team, while Juhnke claimed the tournament MVP honors.