VERMILLION, S.D. – A strong offensive night at the net pushed South Dakota past its in-state rival South Dakota State for the ninth straight time.
The Coyotes, sparked by three in double figures in kills and a team hitting percentage of .331, posted the eighth straight sweep in the Showdown Series, downing the Jackrabbits 25-22, 25-17, 25-11 in Tuesday’s Summit League match before a strong crowd of 1,631 inside the Sanford Coyote Sports Center.
South Dakota pushed its win streak to 21 and is now 24-1 overall and a perfect 13-0 in Summit League play, clinching at least a share of the regular season title, its second in the last four seasons.
“That first set was a high-level game and South Dakota State came out and played really, really well in that first set,” coach Leanne Williamson said. “We expected that so I do think we stayed patient through it.
“They hit for a really high percentage and so did we. We ended up having 21 kills in that first set and I believe we had a block and an ace as well so we earned actually almost every single point that we had there. That was really key for us going into the next couple of sets.”
The Coyotes had a season-high for a three-set match with 54 kills, including the huge first set with 21.
Elizabeth Juhnke continued her strong freshman campaign with a three set career-high 20 kills, producing a .366 hitting percentage. She has reached double figures in kills in all but one Summit League match for South Dakota.
Elizabeth Loschen, a senior, tallied 11 kills while freshman Madison Harms reached double digits in kills for the fourth time this season and second in the last three matches with 10. The Sergeant Bluff, Iowa native, also had one solo and five block assists in the match.
Directing the offense was sophomore setter Madison Jurgens, who contributed a three set career-high 45 assists to go over the 1,000 assist mark on the season. The Odell, Nebraska, native, also chipped in 13 digs, one of three in double figures defensively for the Coyotes.
“Overall, we hit for a really high percentage, we hit over .300 as a team,” said Williamson. “Elizabeth Juhnke was obviously unreal today with 20 kills and hit .366.
“Offensively, I really think we got into a rhythm, really started from the first set just took us a little bit of time to get them slowed back down a bit. It was good to see some different people step up and take care of the ball.”
Anne Rasmussen tallied a season-high for a three-set match with 22 digs while Lolo Weideman added 14 digs. Rasmussen, Weideman and Mehana Fonseca each had two service aces in the match.
“We’re enjoying the fact that we have at least a share of the conference championship,” said Williamson. “I feel like this team has put in a lot of work to get to that point and we’re excited about it.
“Tomorrow (Wednesday), we’ll start over the thought process of going 1-0 again. We want to go win this outright and that’s what Friday’s match gives us a chance to do.”
The Coyotes, with their 13th sweep of the season, moved to 9-0 at home this season and will close out their home portion of the regular season on Friday for Senior Day against North Dakota State. A win would give them the outright Summit League regular season title.