South Dakota standout volleyball player Brittany Jessen has been selected the 2017-18 Summit League Female Scholar-Athlete of the Year as voted on by the league’s faculty athletic representatives and announced Wednesday. The Summit League Scholar-Athlete of the Year Award is the most prestigious individual honor given by the league each season.
“I am honored to be receiving this award from The Summit League,” Jessen said. “Thank you to our coaching staff and athletic department for stressing the importance of academics and the value of being a well-rounded student-athlete.
“Thank you to the School of Education for the support of my academic and athletic endeavors. I am so grateful for the amazing time that I spent at USD and the high-level education I have received.”
Jessen, a native of Mendota, Minnesota, is the third Coyote selected since 2013, which leads all Summit institutions. The list includes distance runner Jeff Mettler (2013) and national champion pole vaulter Bethany (Buell) Firsick (2014).
Jessen is the first volleyball player to win the award since 2000 when it was known as the Mid-Continent Conference. She is the fifth volleyball player to win the award overall (since 1993).
“Brittany has been a huge part of our program’s success,” South Dakota head volleyball coach Leanne Williamson said. “She is the definition of a student-athlete. She had lofty goals from the minute she stepped on campus and has worked to achieve a lot of them.
“I am so proud of what she has accomplished and am glad to know that she has set the bar high for those around her and those that come after her. The program, the school and the community will miss having her around.”
Jessen was named Summit League Setter of the Year for the third consecutive season last fall and was a four-time all-Summit League honoree. She is the Coyotes’ all-time assist leader with 4,826, which ranks fourth in Summit League history. She is also the second player in program history to tally 1,000 digs and 1,000 assists.
Academically, Jessen graduated with a 3.91 grade-point average and a degree in English education with a minor in reading. She was selected to the Summit’s volleyball Academic All-League team three consecutive seasons and was a CoSIDA Academic All-District honoree this past fall. In April, she was named USD’s Female Scholar-Athlete of the Year.
Jessen competed in all 122 matches and 450 sets for the Coyotes spanning the last four seasons. She helped lead the program to a 76-46 record and to a Summit League title in 2016. In addition to her assists total, her career marks include 1,152 digs, 570 kills, 172 blocks and 137 service aces.