The South Dakota volleyball team is coming off of a weekend of mixed results.
On Friday, the Coyotes traveled to Indianapolis, Indiana to take on the Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis Jaguars in their second matchup of the season. The Coyotes won the first meeting between the two teams in October three sets to none and they had high hopes to keep it going coming off of a tough road 1-3 loss at North Dakota State University. After starting the game strong winning the first set 26-24, they would not look back. USD would roll on to a 3-0.
On Saturday, the women would travel up the road to take on the Fort Wayne Mastodons in Fort Wayne, Indiana. In their previous matchup at home, the Coyotes won a thriller, coming from behind to win 3-2. Luck would not be on their side this time however, as the Coyotes fell 0-3.
“Road games are always tough. They are even tougher having two games in a row,” said Coyote head coach Leanne Williamson. “That is never an excuse, but it tests our mental toughness and we need to make sure we work on keeping that at a high level in order to win.”
While this past weekend may have had its ups and downs, this coming weekend is sure to be another exciting one. USD closes their season at home with a game on Friday against the current leader of the Summit League, the Denver Pioneers. They then play again on Saturday against rivals South Dakota State University.
According to junior setter Brittany Jessen, having the final games at home have a huge effect.
“It’s really huge to have two big games like this at home where we know we have the fans behind us and just a great atmosphere to play in,” Jessen said. “It will hopefully help us get back on top and take over the best record after beating Denver and then take the momentum to the State game and the tournament.”
With a current record of 22-6, the Coyotes have an 8-1 record at home in the brand new Sanford Coyote Sports Center.
Redshirt sophomore Rachel Schmidt said she believes the key to this weekend’s games are all about the past.
“It is key for us to focus on our previous games and seeing what we did right and what we did wrong or didn’t do so we can make adjustments and gain confidence in ourselves,” Schmidt said.
Both Williams and Jessen emphasized that taking the season game by game is the most important thing. Williams said it may be easy to get caught up in the fanfare surrounding the SDSU game and the tournament approaching, but in order to win the next game, it requires 100-percent focus on the present.
While taking it game by game is a huge part of the mentality, doing what they do best is also a big part of the preparation for them.
“We have a big emphasis on recognizing that it is not who we play, but more just doing what we do best and making sure we do things right,” Jessen said. “In the end the opponent does not matter if we can play at a high level, keep our focus and do what we do best.”