The University of South Dakota women’s volleyball team interim head coach Leanne Williamson got her first shot at coaching the Coyotes as they hosted a spring tournament at the DakotaDome April 5.
“It has been fun,” Williamson said. “These girls are awesome and work really hard. It is nice to have some quality teams coming in that we can really compete against.”
Along with Williamson officially coaching, early arrival first-year Brittany Jessen got her first shot at competing as a Coyote.
Jessen proved to Williamson that she is able to perform at the Coyote level and ready to step into the shoes of graduating senior Tori Kroll
“Replacing someone can be tough. (Jessen) is dedicated to this and wants to be extremely good for her team,” Williamson said. “It is not about her, it is about the program and leaving an impact here and she has already kind of stepped into those shoes. “
The Coyotes hosted Iowa and Creighton, who split their teams into two. The Coyotes faced Iowa first, winning 2-0.
In the next game, the Coyotes faced Creighton’s second team, where they won the first set 25-22 on a hit from first-year Audrey Reeg. They also won the second set winning the match 2-0.
Williamson said she was pleased with the results of the tournament and said the team will look back at the matches and continue to train like they have been.
“We served aggressively which put the other teams out of system,” Williamson said. “Our defense is able to play around, and with aggressive serving it is allowing our defense to be crisp.”
Jessen said she was excited for her first home debut as a Coyote and that it is nice to be here early with the team.
“I love it. It’s the best decision to make and I have so much time to come and train now — it’s been great,” Jessen said.
She also said she loves playing at the Dome with the fans so close.
Junior Kendall Kritenbrink also said she loves that Jessen is here early to train with the team.
“Without (Jessen) here we would not have a setter all spring, especially coming in as a (first-year) setter, it is nice to have her here early to mesh with the team,” Kritenbrink said.
The Coyotes head to a tournament in Northern Iowa this weekend. Williamson said the team is competing every day and learning how to work through adversity.
“We are playing some big teams the rest of the spring, so that will prepare us,” Kritenbrink said. “It is working us hard and working on us staying together.”
Photo: First-year Brittany Jessen serves in her home debut for the University of South Dakota volleyball team Saturday April 5 at the DakotaDome. (Malachi Petersen/The Volante)