OMAHA, NE (KELO) — The USD volleyball team claimed a 3-2 match victory over Denver to claim the Summit League tournament championship, sending the Coyotes to the NCAA tournament.
The Coyotes found out their NCAA tournament fate on Sunday, April 4. Since then, the Coyotes have been focusing on themselves, while learning about their opponent.
“It was definitely team based over the past week or so. After winning the Summit League Championship tournament we were really just trying to get better each day and prepare for Missouri as much as we could,” USD sophomore Aimee Adams said.
USD got back on the volleyball court on Tuesday, ahead of Wednesday’s opening round contest.
“There’s definitely an adrenaline rush when you walk into practice for the first time, regardless of the circumstances it’s still the NCAA tournament and there is still the hype around it. After Monday and having to sit in the hotel all day, it was nice to finally get to practice,” USD junior Madison Jurgens said.
“We were just excited to get back out there and work through some things. Anytime you’re sitting around all day, it’s one of my least favorite days of the season when we have off days,” USD head coach Leann Williamson said. “To be able to work some of that and get their bodies moving again and really start to make that progress again each day, to be able to be as prepared as we can for our first matchup.”
Several close matches throughout the season have helped the Coyotes prepare for the national stage.
“The tough matches that we did end up losing, is one of those things that we didn’t fail, we learned. That’s an important thing to remember because those learning moments did really help us,” Adams said.
Missouri is the team that USD will meet on Wednesday, but their two Summit League tournament matches may help in the long run.
“Denver and Kansas City, I feel like, prepared us a lot for this team. They run a pretty fast offense and they have some pretty big kids on the other side. They’re big outside, they’ve got a good slide attacker, but I think we’re prepared, I think we’re ready,” Juhnke said.
“These past couple games we’ve played, especially against Kansas City, they have a big player coming out of their right back, hitting and stuff and we have been working really hard together on blocking that and getting used to that set,” Adams said.
While the last two matches of the year were helpful, coach Williamson says their matches against Creighton will feature a more similar level of competition.
“Missouri is a good team and they’re also, what I think is a good matchup for us. The girls mentioned it a little bit again and they do some things that both Denver and Kansas City have prepared us for, but I’d actually go back to that Creighton match a little bit more, in terms of the physicality and the ability to play the game at a really high level,” Williamson said.
A LOOK AT MISSOURI
The Tigers (15-7) started the season back in October and played eight games in the fall of 2020. Missouri started 6-2 with their only losses coming at the hands of currently #2 ranked Kentucky.
Missouri picked up their season in late January. The Tigers concluded their season with a 15-7 record and enter the NCAA Tournament having won their last four games.
The last AVCA Coaches Poll was released on March 28 and had Missouri at #25.
6’4 outside hitter, Kylie Deberg, has led the Tigers this season as she has 400 kills and a kill percentage of 27.7%.
Deberg’s 4.71 kills per set lands her as number seven in the country and number one in the Southeastern Conference.
The senior was just one of three Tigers to land on the All-SEC Team. She was joined by setter Andrea Fuentes and sophomore Anna Dixon.
Dixon added 254 kills, while Fuentes led the team with 690 assists, fourth best in the SEC.
WHERE TO WATCH
The Coyotes and Tigers will cross paths on Wednesday, April 14 at 11:00 a.m. The game can be seen on ESPN3.
Follow @KELOSweeter on Twitter for in game coverage. Stay with KELO-TV on air and online for postgame coverage and highlights.