Following a 3-0 showing at the Montana State Bobcat Classic, the Coyote women’s volleyball team headed back to the DakotaDome Monday night, holding their home opener in front of a sold out crowd in a non-conference match against the University of North Dakota.
The Coyotes started off slow, losing the first set 25-21. The first home game of the season senior Tori Kroll said with the match being the home opener the team had to get their jitters out. Head coach Matt Houk also said the Coyotes had to shake that little bit out and get over it.
“Obviously set one wasn’t pretty, but they started to clean things up. Our block made huge improvements as the match went on and our serve got tremendously better,” Houk said.
The Coyotes stepped it up from there winning the next three sets 25-19, 25-19, 25-17. Junior Kendall Kritenbrink led the Coyotes with 18 kills, sophomore Sydney Dimke added 12 kills and sophomore Kelsey Biltoft had 10 kills for the Coyotes. Kroll finished with 41 set assists and four kills.
The Coyotes have started their season off strong, with big wins against Gonzaga and Texas Tech. Kroll had an outstanding performance at the Bobcat Classic claiming the top spot and breaking the all-time set assist record. Kroll said it feels awesome to achieve such an honor.
“I give all the credit to my hitters, I wouldn’t be here without them,” Kroll said.
Along with Kroll’s outstanding performance, junior Kritenbrink achieved her 1,000th kill of her collegiate career.
“It was pretty exciting, I didn’t really see it coming, but definitely something more to work for and break the next record,” Kritenbrink said.
Houk said the Coyotes have improved a lot from last season to and it has a lot to do with being able to spread the ball out more.
“Kelsey (Biltoft) and Sydney (Dimke) both had big nights for us and helped moved the ball around,” Houk said. “I’m really happy with the fact that we’ve got more than one person that can score the ball now.”
Dimke said that the major change from last season to now is the pace of the team.
“Our pace this year is way faster, the blockers can’t always keep up so it’s helping us a lot,” Dimke said.
The Coyotes will travel to Kansas this weekend for the Wichita State Tournament where they will face seventh ranked Hawaii. Houk said the team will find out how tough they really are this weekend.
“Any given night, if you play your best volleyball and you lay it out on the line you have an opportunity and I think that’s the big thing and that’s how we have to look at it,” Houk said.
Houk said it should be a great weekend, leading them into conference play the following weekend when they take on Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne Sept. 27 in Vermillion.
“We’re going to build a lot of confidence next weekend, showing up and competing and putting our best in front,” Hook said.