As the USD women’s volleyball team prepares for their final tournament of the regular season, a sense of impatience and a feeling of fatigue permeates the practice court.
The Coyotes have spent three weekends traveling across the country, cutting into class time and consistently facing opposing crowds.
Their first home game is still a long way down the road.
“We do like our preseason schedule because we get to play tough teams and improve. We play teams we don’t usually play and see place we don’t usually see,” head coach Leanne Williamson said. “But, of course, there’s that little bit of us that would like to be back in the (Coyote) Den playing in front of our own fans.”
One more weekend on the road lies ahead before the Coyotes welcome competition to the DakotaDome.
Until then, there’s a date scheduled with 22-ranked Purdue to begin one final road tournament.
“We’re still learning how to play as a unit,” junior Audrey Reeg said. “We need to eliminate the ebbs and flows, and come out to play the match the same way every time.”
Over the weekend, the Coyotes split competition at the UND Classic in Grand Forks, going 1-1 on Friday and Saturday respectively.
Reeg led the Coyotes with 58 kills on top of 28 digs throughout tournament play, earning herself an all-tournament performance.
Maybe more important, however, is the experience some younger members of the team are getting.
First-year libero Lauren Mattison, for example, picked up 20 digs against Green Bay on Saturday to lead USD’s backline.
“We’ve all learned a lot through these early matches, not just me,” Mattison said. “These tournaments have been a challenge.”
Neither Mattison or Reeg said the team was proud of their weekend performance, but they’re seeing more people step up on both sides of the ball.
Williamson said she saw mental mistakes in games that the team doesn’t make in practice.
“We were in control of whether or not we were playing well,” Williamson said. “We weren’t making adjustments and were straying away from Coyote volleyball at times. But to me, that’s all controllable.”
USD has an opportunity to play Coyote volleyball once again this weekend.
The Coyotes begin competition in West Lafayette, Ind., Friday morning at 8:00 against host Purdue. They will turn around and play Notre Dame Friday afternoon before finishing up tournament play Saturday morning against Ball State.
(Photo: Setting up he middle hitter, then-first-year Brittany Jessen rises for the assist in the DakotaDome. The Coyotes are playing their fourth weekend tournament in a row Friday. File Photo / The Volante)