The USD volleyball team is still going strong and persevering through the 2016 season. The Coyotes had a six-game winning streak that was snapped after being defeated by the Iowa State Cyclones in three straight sets at the Sanford Coyote Sports Complex last Tuesday.
The Coyotes bounced back after the loss to the Cyclones with a Summit League win over the University of Nebraska-Omaha this past Friday. They defeated the Mavericks 3-1.
USD’s perfect Summit League record was ended on Sunday’s trip to Denver. The Pioneers defeated the Coyotes in straight sets. That was just the second time this year the Coyotes have failed to win a single set in a match.
The team is now 18-4 on the year with a 7-1 start against Summit League teams. After some struggles last season, the Coyotes seem to be finding their footing.
“The team faced a lot of adversity last year, last year was good learning year for the team,” said Coyote head coach Leanne Williamson. “We had the ability to be good in previous seasons but we were never able to overcome the hump of what could have been. We had to use our momentum from last year and carry that into this season and overcome that hump.”
The Lady Yotes are undoubtedly overcoming the humps this year in every aspect of the game. The Coyotes lead against their opponents in kills for this year by 115. The team cumulatively has 950 kills on the season where their opponents have 835 kills.
In the game of volleyball, you cannot have a kill without an assist, but junior setter Brittany Jessen turned that idiom on its head.
“You can’t have an assist without a hitter,” Jessen said.
Jessen currently leads the Summit League in assists with an average of 11 assists per set.
“The feeling of leading the Summit League is awesome but it isn’t about me, it is a team sport. I wouldn’t be able to get assists if I didn’t have the hitters,” Jessen said. “Our goal is to win the Summit League this year and we just have to stay focused as a team but also focus on making ourselves better as individuals.”
That focus has paid off over the course of a year, as the Coyotes have seen vast improvement as a team from last season.
“The team has put in the work over the course of the year and that is striving to be a better team than we were last year,” Williamson said. “Playing different teams is a testament to what we have done and how we have improved from previous seasons.”
The volleyball season is nearly year-round with spring practices happening and the girls also dedicate themselves to the game during the summer.
“Being here all summer when it wasn’t required really showed us what kind of team we are,” said sophomore outside hitter Hayley Dotseth. “We dedicate ourselves to the game. We are able to build ourselves physically and mentally over the summer and we can carry that strength into the school year. When we are together over the summer we as a team can talk up the season and get really excited about the year we want to have.”
The Coyotes had a 15-16 record to end the season last year. They ended the season with an 8-8 conference record.
“It feels good to be the team that we know we are capable of being this season,” Williamson said. “We aren’t satisfied with where we are right now. We have to continue to play well for the rest of the season and improve and be the best team. We have the drive and determination to not be satisfied with where we (are) at right now so we can make our way to the top.”
The Coyotes are set to play Oral Roberts on Oct. 21 in Tulsa, Oklahoma in another Summit League matchup game.