SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (SUMMIT) – South Dakota was selected to take home the Summit League volleyball regular season title, garnering 61 points and six first-place votes in the preseason coaches’ poll released Wednesday by league officials. The Coyotes have won at least a share of the regular season crown three times since joining the league, including a season ago. South Dakota held a seven-point advantage on North Dakota State to claim the top spot in the poll voted on by the league’s nine head coaches.
The Bison, who received two first-place votes, edged Omaha for the runner-up spot, finishing with 54 points. The Mavericks tallied 53 points and received the remaining first-place vote. South Dakota State claimed fourth with 39 points, while North Dakota accumulated 34 points to place fifth.
Denver (30) was predicted to finish sixth, while Kansas City (25) and St. Thomas (16) were projected to finish seventh and eighth, respectively. Oral Roberts rounded out the poll in ninth with 12 points.
2023 Summit League Volleyball Preseason Coaches’ Poll
|Rank||School||Points (1st)||2022 Record (SL)|
|1.||South Dakota||61 (6)||29-4 (16-2)|
|2.||North Dakota State||54 (2)||21-12 (13-5)|
|3.||Omaha||53 (1)||20-11 (14-4)|
|4.||South Dakota State||39||18-15 (11-7)|
|5.||North Dakota||34||12-18 (9-9)|
|7.||Kansas City||25||10-21 (7-11)|
|8.||St. Thomas||16||4-26 (2-16)|
|9.||Oral Roberts||12||9-21 (6-12)|
#SummitVB Preseason Notes
- Two of the Summit League’s individual award recipients from the 2022 season return to action. North Dakota State brings back Setter of the Year Kelley Johnson and Omaha’s Kali Jurgensmeier, the Freshman of the Year, returns for the Mavericks.
- Johnson finished her junior season leading the league and ranking eighth in Division I volleyball with 1,342 assists. She averaged 10.57 assists per set and recorded double-figure assists in all 33 matches, including six matches with 50 or more.
- Jurgensmeier enters her second season after a rookie season that saw her lead all league freshmen with 264 kills, a .261 attack percentage, 311 points and 74 total blocks.
- South Dakota, who won its third straight Summit League Tournament title and fourth overall last season, has 13 returners back, including All-League First Teamer Madison Harms. She became the second Coyote to record 500 career blocks and holds the program records in the rally scoring era for assisted blocks, solo blocks and total blocks.
- Omaha returns nine from last season’s roster including All-League First Team members Shayla McCormick and McKenna Ruch, along with honorable mention honoree Sami Clarkson.
- Clarkson recorded the fifth most assists in the league last season with 1,046 and became the fourth Maverick in history to top 4,000 career assists. She sits third all-time in program history with 4,201 assists.
- North Dakota State, who made its first trip to the league tournament since 2019 and 13th overall, has Ali Hinze back to join Johnson as an All-League First Team returner. Hinze averaged a team-best 3.63 kills per set, which ranked fifth in the league.
- In addition to Johnson and Hinze, Ally Barth returns for the green and gold after being named to the Summit League All-Freshman team. Barth connected on 83 kills, averaged 1.57 kills per set, added 46 blocks and contributed at least three blocks in seven of the 14 matches she appeared in.
- Denver, who will be led by first-year head coach Megan Pendergast, returns nine letterwinners from a year ago including senior defensive specialists Ryen Wilkens and Gianna Bartalo. Wilkens recorded 279 digs, tallied 13 service aces, put up 33 assists and totaled 13 matches with double-digit digs. Bartalo led the team last season with 377 digs and set the school’s Division I program record for digs in a match with 40 against South Dakota State on Nov. 24.
- South Dakota State brought in redshirt sophomore transfer Sydni Schetnan from Louisville, who was a member of the Cardinal volleyball team that advanced to the national championship game in 2022.
#SummitVB Schedule Notes
- The 2023 season officially begins on Friday, Aug. 25 with the first serve going up at 9 a.m. CT as Kansas City takes on FDU.
- Reigning tournament champion South Dakota will open its season in the Cardinal and Gold Challenge at Iowa State where they will take on the Cyclones at 6:30 p.m. CT.
- League play begins Thursday, Sept. 21, with eight of the nine league members taking the court.
- The top six regular season finishers qualify for The Summit League Volleyball Championship slated for Nov. 19-21 inside the Sanford Coyote Sports Center in Vermillion, S.D.
Players to Watch
Evelyn Diederich | South Dakota | Outside Hitter | Senior
- Appeared in 29 matches and 101 sets, totaling 205 kills on 674 swings
- Garnered 49 digs, 25 block assists and one solo block
- Had season-highs of 13 kills against NDSU (Sept. 27), six digs in a win over Missouri (Aug. 28) and three blocks in a win over Kansas City (Oct. 15)
Madison Harms | South Dakota | Middle Blocker | Senior
- 2022 All-League First Team recipient after racking up 309 kills with a .355 hitting percentage in 33 matches
- Posted 29 digs, 131 block assists and 26 solo blocks
- Became the second Coyote to record 500 career blocks and holds the program records in the rally scoring era for block assists, solo blocks and total blocks
Ali Hinze | North Dakota State | Outside Hitter | Senior
- Named an All-Summit League First Team honoree after finishing the season positioned fourth in the league with 446 kills and helped power an NDSU offense that led the league and ranked seventh nationally with 1,759 kills
- Averaged a team-best 3.63 kills per set, which ranked fifth best in the league
- Reached double-figure kills in 28 of 32 matches, including a streak of 21 straight to close the 2022 season
Kelley Johnson | North Dakota State | Setter | Senior
- Named the 2022 Summit League Setter of the Year after leading the league and ranking eighth in the nation with 1,342 assists
- Averaged 10.57 assists per set and recorded double-figure assists in all 33 matches, including six matches with 50 or more
- Helped guide an NDSU offense that was positioned 10th nationally and led the league with 1,615 assists
Shayla McCormick | Omaha | Outside Hitter | Junior
- Named to the AVCA All-Midwest Region Team and was a member of the All-Summit League First Team after leading the Mavericks and finishing fifth in the league with 438 kills and third in kills per set (3.74)
- Ranked among the top five in the league with 43 service aces and 0.37 aces per set
- Posted 370 digs, 3.16 digs per set and had 28 double-digit kill matches, including nine straight at the beginning and end of the season
McKenna Ruch | Omaha | Middle Blocker | Senior
- 2022 All-League First Team member, AVCA All-Midwest Region honoree and was an AVCA All-America honorable mention member after totaling 305 kills and leading the team with a .341 hitting percentage and 145 blocks, all of which ranked in the top 10 among league players
- Had 16 matches with double-digit kills and two with double-digit blocks
- Finished with a hitting percentage above .500 six times and set a new career-best with a .714 hitting percentage against Lipscomb (Sept. 16)
Masa Scheierman | South Dakota State | Outside Hitter | Sophomore
- 2022 Summit League All-Freshman Team member after ranking third on the team with 217 total kills and second with 2.52 kills per set
- Put down at least 10 kills in 12 matches, including each of the last seven contests
- Recorded a season-best 18 kills against Louisiana in the opening round of the NIVC
Sydni Schetnan | South Dakota State | Outside Hitter | Redshirt Sophomore
- Transferred to SDSU after two seasons at Louisville
- Competed in four matches last season where she totaled a pair of kills and five total attacks
- Also recorded one block assist and notched 2.5 total points for the Cardinals
Marissa Stockman | North Dakota | Middle Blocker/Right Side | Graduate
- Led the team with a .266 hitting percentage in 28 matches and totaled 102 blocks (.96 per set), which ranked ninth among league players
- Finished 10th in the league in hitting efficiency and racked up a season-high 11 total blocks at Oral Roberts on Oct. 27
- Ranked fourth on the team with 201 kills and posted a season-high 13 against Denver
Elizabeth Norris | North Dakota | Setter | Graduate
- Was named an All-Summit League honorable mention honoree after finishing with 538 assists in 29 starts for the Fighting Hawks
- Recorded six triple-doubles, which was tied for the second most in the nation
- Finished second on the team in points (265.5), points per set (2.5), kills (233) and kills per set (2.2)
Gianna Bartalo | Denver | Libero/Defensive Specialist | Senior
- Led the team with 377 digs, while also posting 73 assists, 26 service aces and notching at least 15 kills in 10 matches
- Set Division I program record for digs in a match with 40 against South Dakota State on Nov. 24Tallied a season-high nine assists against SDSU and served a season-high five aces against UND on Oct. 15
Cadi Boyer | Denver | Middle Blocker | Graduate
- Appeared in all 31 matches, recording 171 kills and 113 total blocks
- Ranked second in the League with a .379 hitting percentage and fifth in blocks per set (1.08)
- Notched four matches with double-figure kills, including a career-high 16 against St. Thomas and had a career-best 11 total blocks against Hofstra
Carly Gillen | Kansas City | Middle Blocker | Senior
- Averaged 1.73 kills and 0.67 blocks per set and totaled 80 blocks, which was second highest among all Roos
- Led the team with a .266 hitting percentage, which ranked 11th among league players
- Began last season with eight kills and a season-high eight block assists in win over Miami (OH)
Odyssey Warren | Kansas City | Outside Hitter | Senior
- Earned All-Summit League honorable mention honors after leading the team and ranking eighth in the league with 3.28 kills per set
- Led the Roos and ranked eighth in the league with 0.28 aces per set
- Posted nine double-doubles and was the only Roos to start in all 31 matches
Lauren Galvin | St. Thomas | Outside Hitter | Junior
- Finished the 2022 season with 331 kills, 247 digs, 30 total blocks, 23 service aces, 19 assists and 370 points
- Averaged 3.1 kills, 2.3 digs and 3.5 points per setFinished with a career-best 19 digs at Montana State (Oct. 1) and had seven double-doubles throughout the season
Emma Goerger | St. Thomas | Middle Blocker | Sophomore
- One of four Tommies to play in all 30 matches for a total of 104 sets
- Ranked ninth in the league with 0.97 blocks per set
- Led the team with a .194 hitting percentage, 18 solo blocks, 83 block assists and 101 total blocks
Kalena Vaivai | Oral Roberts | Setter | Senior
- 2022 All-Summit League honorable mention honoree after leading the team with 611 assists, including a career-high 55 against North Dakota State (Oct. 27)
- Averaged 6.87 assists per set and totaled a team-high 25 service aces
- Ranked third on the team in digs (204), logged 10 double-doubles and registered 29 total blocks, including a season-best four twice
Trinity Freeman | Oral Roberts | Outside Hitter | Junior
- Appeared in all 30 matches with 29 starts, logging a team-best 342 kills in 113 sets for an average of 3.03
- Produced 17 double-digit kill outings, including a career-high 20 against Denver (Oct. 8)
- Scooped up 136 digs and registered one double-double in 2022
Note: Players to Watch nominated by the league’s head coaches