VERMILLION, S.D. (KELO) — USD’s Volleyball team accomplished one of its season goals, a regular season conference championship. Now the Coyotes turn their attention to another one of their goals, a Summit League Tournament title, and an NCAA Tournament berth.
USD went 16-2 in conference play, and enter the Summit League Tournament with a 27-3 overall record, with their lone non-conference loss coming against 4th-ranked Louisville in the first match of the season.
“Going 1-0 every single day, that’s what Leanne always tell us, is that we have to focus on the now and the present, and not look at the future or our previous games. So I think it’s just focusing on how each of us individually and as a team can be the best player that we can be,” Senior Lolo Weideman said.
The Coyotes have leaned on a potent attack all season long. While Elizabeth Juhnke may lead the way, the balance they’ve found with Madison Harms, Aimee Adams, Brynn Paumen and Evelyn Diederich has only made them tougher to defend.
“How can you impact the team, and everybody has just found different ways and different moments to step up, which is important because you don’t have to rely on the same two to three people every time,” Head Coach Leanne Williamson said.
For as good as the Yotes are on the attack, they’re just as good, if not better defensively.
“There’s a lot to be said for denying someone a kill, and I think we work on that a lot at practice, and that’s a big focus for us,” Weideman said.
“I also think it gives our attackers the confidence they need, that if maybe we’re not in a great spot to take a good rip at the ball, how do we keep the ball in play and have our defense behind us that can extend rallies,” Junior Outside Hitter Elizabeth Juhnke said.
USD has won 3 of the last 4 conference tournaments, including the last two, and having that experience is invaluable.
“Knowing what you’re chasing, knowing how hard it is, knowing what it takes, how much you have to put it to get to that point is huge,” Williamson said.
After hosting last year’s conference tournament, the Coyotes will look to bring their own home court advantage to Omaha for this year’s tourney.
“I think it just starts on court. It starts in building our momentum, and how do we create energy on our bench or on the court. I think our bench does a great job of making it feel like we’re at home,” Juhnke said.
The Coyotes swept the major conference seasons awards with Elizabeth Juhnke being named Player of the Year, LoLo Weideman the Defensive Player of the Year, and Leanne Williams the Coach of the Year. USD will face the winner between Denver and SDSU in the Summit League Tournament semifinals on Friday.