Coming off a tough loss Sunday night the Coyote women’s volleyball team is looking to improve this weekend in Fargo, N.D., as they take on North Dakota State University on Oct. 5.
Head coach Matt Houk is pleased with the performance against UMCK this past weekend, despite the Coyotes’ 3-2 loss.
“Both of our middles, Melissa (Firtko) and Kelsey (Biltoft), played really well as it was only their second starts this season,” Houk said. “(Senior) Kim Bulaga also had a great match, playing the way a senior should be
Bulaga has had quite a successful season already after an injury the second week of the season causing her to miss eight matches.
“The injury was tough for her, having to sit and watch knowing it is her last year. I think she used her time wisely and got herself in a good state of mind,” Houk said.
Bulaga said she has such appreciation to her teammates and said the team has come a long ways these past few years.
“I really owe it all to my teammates for giving me the confidence to go out there and play to the best of my ability,” Bulaga said.
Back and healthy, Bulaga led the Coyotes with 16 kills Saturday, Sept. 29. Her physical game is on a good pace right now, she said.
“She is a common influence on our team, always bringing the girls up after a point scored, whether it was good or bad,” Houk said. “(Bulaga) is our rock.”
The Coyotes will focus on their hitting errors during this week’s practice in lieu to the weekend’s match.
“NDSU is a quality team and relies heavily on getting the ball to their middle attacker,” Houk said. “If we serve tough and get them out of system then they are forced to go to the outside.”
Houk also said if they focus on hitting the contact points and finding the perimeter of the court, they will do well.
“We can not give them free points,” Houk said “We need to execute the attacks and focus on serving the ball tough.”
The Summit League volleyball landscape is currently a no mans land, with all teams holding at least one loss.
“A lot of teams are winning and losing when you do not expect it but they are going to be tough,” junior Tori Kroll said.
Houk said it comes down to players knowing what to do and making things happen when they need to get done.
“Recently (Bulaga), (Kroll) and (Achoff) have stepped up, making sure everyone is on the right page and doing the same things,” Houk said.
Bulaga said the closeness between team members off the court has translated itself into unity during games.
“We do a lot more team bonding stuff. We love all the girls that come onto the team, we all go to study tables together, we all go out to eat,” Bulaga said. “We are a lot closer than we have been in the past, I really think it is showing out on the court.”
The Coyotes will follow up their Oct. 5 game with rival South Dakota State University on Saturday in Brookings.