The Coyote women defeated Western Illinois at the first home game in the Sanford Coyote Sports Center Friday night. The Coyotes won 3-2 against the Leathernecks, after tying the fourth set.
The Coyotes won the first set 26-24 and the second set 25-20. They came close a few times during the third set, but ultimately lost 19-25. The Leathernecks also won the fourth set 25-20.
During the fifth and final set, with the score 2-2, the Coyotes made a comeback, leading Western Illinois for most of the set before taking the win 15-10.
Head coach Leanne Williamson said the team pushed from the beginning and made a statement that they were “going to dictate” the game.
“The first home game is always a little bit tough, you get some nerves coming in to it,” Williamson said. “We played well in sets one and two overall. Towards the end, we finished. Sets three and four were kind of backed off again and set five, we were definitive.”
Junior Rachel Schmidt was the star player of the night, with 18 kills and 12 digs. Junior Hayley Dotseth had 14 kills and 12 digs. Sophomore Anne Rasmussen led the Coyotes in digs with 26. Senior Brittany Jessen had 18 digs. Senior Meagan Kerns had 13 kills.
Senior Kelly Law had 11 kills during Friday’s game.
“Even though (Western Illinois) came back and took two sets off of us, we never lost the confidence that this was a match we could win,” Law said.
Sophomore Mehana Fonseca said Friday’s game brought out a lot of positive points.
“We didn’t play our cleanest volleyball, but I think we were more consistent,” Fonseca said.
North Dakota State University
Despite dominating the first set 25-11, the Coyote volleyball team trailed behind for three sets and ultimately lost to the North Dakota State University Bison.
The first set saw non-stop kills and attacks. Dotseth led the team with 14 kills. Dotseth also left the game with 23 digs. Kerns had 11 kills. Junior Rachel Schmidt had 10 kills. Rasmussen had the most digs with 33. Jessen had the most assists with 44.
Williamson said the team played very consistently in the first set.
“We pushed from the beginning, we defended our home court at a very, very high level — we dictated the pace of the game immediately,” she said.
Williamson said the team expected NDSU to push back during the second set.
“I think it pushed us backwards a little bit,” she said. “We were never able to get to be that offensive throughout again. We were kind of on the defensive end instead of being the aggressor.”
Fonseca finished the game with 12 digs and one assist. Fonseca said though the start of the game was strong, they couldn’t keep up with the Bison’s comeback.
“Our offense was killing it, we were really good in serve receive,” Fonseca said. “I think going into the next game, we expected them to make changes, but I don’t think we adjusted to their changes well enough.”
Law had nine kills and two digs during the game. She said the results were “disappointing,” and it was hard adjusting to NDSU’s turnaround during the final sets.
“NDSU is a very tough team, hats off to them for that,” Law said. “They played some really great defense and they definitely changed up their game to counter what we didn’t in that first set.”
Improvements are underway for the next games.
“Finishing on a 5-0 run is huge for us, and making sure that we can do that on a more consistent basis is big for us,” Williamson said. “We have got to keep capitalizing on things that we’re doing well and start making some of those changes on the things we’re struggling with.”
Williamson said errors, execution and being consistent in attacks were the weekend’s main problems.
“Consistent isn’t always just scoring — it’s understanding what you can and can’t do, it’s understanding what the defense is doing on the other side and making sure that our volleyball IQ is pushing us through,” she said.
Fonseca said she plans to be more effective in defense for the next game.
“I think we should just come in this next week angry, ready to just take some more wins,” she said. “As a team, I think we need to play fearless, and that’s something that our coaches are trying to instill against us. Our motto is ‘Rise together,’ so we just need to stop talking the talk and walking the walk.”
The Coyotes take on Fort Wayne in Indiana on Sept. 29. The next home game is Oct. 3 against Oral Roberts.