OMAHA, NE (KELO) — USD’s season came to a close at the NCAA Volleyball Tournament as Missouri (16-7) cruised to a straight sets sweep.
The Tigers started strong in set one and jumped out a 12-3 lead, but USD started a 14-5 run and tied the set at 17.
However, the Tigers got right back in rhythm as they closed the set on an 8-4 run to claim set one, 25-21.
“I think we had a lot of nerves to start off the game and I think you could really see that on our side of the court,” USD senior Sami Slaughter said. “We told our selves over and over again, that they’re going to get their big kills and big blocks, but it is how we respond.”
Set two saw the Coyotes off to a strong start as they held a 15-13 lead, but Missouri came firing back.
The Tigers closed the set on a 12-2 run to take the set, 25-17.
“They were just a really big team. One of their outsides is 6’4″ and she just kept painting that ten foot line and I think that’s what kind of killed us a little bit,” Slaughter said.
Missouri didn’t let up from there as they powered their way through the third set to earn a 25-15 victory and earn the straight sets sweep over the Coyotes.
“I do think there were some things that I wish we could’ve stopped at a higher level, but that’s the nature of the game sometimes,” USD head coach Leann Williamson said. “Now, we’ll be able to go back as coaches too and figure out what was happening throughout the match, what was the flow and what were some changes that we would make in the future.”
The Tigers had 47 kills to USD’s 28. 6’4″ senior, Kylie Deberg, led the way for both teams with a game high 16 kills and ten digs.
“Deberg has a really good cut shot, which I think everyone saw today and unfortunately, we were never really able to stop that, so she didn’t have to go away from it,” Williamson said. “I think we felt that we put our defense in the spot where we would be able to dig that.”
USD concluded a tremendous 2021 season in which they claimed their second ever Summit League tournament title.
“It just goes to show how good our team is and we want to be back here again next year,” Slaughter said. “We’re going to have our whole team here and then two other girls as well. We’re going to be back, we will.”
Despite being a senior, Slaughter did confirm that she will return next year and talk advantage of the COVID-19 eligibility rules.
Along with Slaughter, the Coyotes will return nearly their entire team.
“Ally Grothusen will be done this spring, but everybody else is returning and I think with that we will now have a good group of our team, probably closer to 95% of our team that have been here,” Williamson said. “They know what they’re fighting for, they know they’re working towards, they know what this moment feels like and I think they’ll be able to make some of the those switches.”
Despite the three sets sweep, the Coyotes will be able to learn from this week’s experience.
“I think every time you have the experience of being here, it helps. I think the moment is big and it should be. That’s why we are working for it and that’s why it’s an honor to be here,” Williamson said. “This is exactly where we want to be, but this is where we want to be next year too.”
Following their second NCAA tournament appearance in three years, the Coyotes will be bulking up their schedule for the fall of 2021.
“There is nothing confirmed right now, but I can tell you that this is probably going to be the toughest schedule that we have played in my time here, in 12 years,” Williamson said. “We’re excited to challenge ourselves. We’re excited to get out there and play teams like Missouri and Creighton in order to put ourselves in position to have experience and have a chance to beat those teams. If you don’t play them, you don’t have a chance to beat them.”