After a slow start to the season, USD volleyball continues to show signs of improvement and consistency in Summit League play.
“I think this has been a season of growth,” said head coach Leanne Williamson. “At the start of the year, I don’t think the players weren’t as refined as what we saw last year.”
After starting off 1-4, the Coyotes have won nine out of their last 11 games and are currently on a three-game win streak after defeating Fort Wayne 3-0, Oral Roberts 3-1 and University of Nebraska-Omaha 3-1 last Saturday.
“Over the last couple of weeks, we’ve seen consistency offensively and defensively,” Williamson said. “We’re starting to put everything together and hope to continue the success over the next few games.”
The Coyotes are 10-7 overall, and 4-1 in Summit League play following the victory over University of Nebraska-Omaha this past weekend.
“I think we’re doing really well,” said senior Meagan Kerns. “We’ve played a lot of tough teams and ranked opponents and it’s been a good learning experience for us.”
On Aug. 31, USD lost in straight sets to then 22nd-ranked Utah, and have continued to play well-known universities such as Hawaii, Wyoming, Rutgers, University of Northern Iowa and the Air Force Academy.
Kerns said the team has been consistent in their games.
“So far in conference play, we’ve shown how gritty we can be,” Kerns said. “We’ve shown that we can compete with the top teams in the conference.”
Junior outside hitter Hayley Dotseth leads the team in kills with 203, and averages 3.27 kills per set. Sophomore Anne Rasmussen leads in digs with 339, and Kerns leads the team in blocks with 35.
On Sept. 18, senior Kelly Law was named Summit League offensive player of week for her performance that weekend against Arkansas-Pine Bluff.
Defense has played a big role in the team’s success. Rasmussen was named Summit League Defensive Player of the Week on Oct. 2 and led the Coyote defense with 27 digs in the straight sets victory over Fort Wayne.
“Winning Conference is everyone’s top goal,” Kerns said. “We’re starting to find our rhythm and who we are as a team, so hopefully we can accomplish this goal.”
Next for USD in Summit League play is against arch rival South Dakota State. The team hopes to bring the defense against the Jackrabbits in this week’s contest.
“We’re going to treat the game the same as any other,” Williamson said. “Same preparation, energy and excitement.”
In both meetings last year, the Coyotes topped SDSU in straight sets 25-19, 25-19, 25-15 and 25-11, 25-15 and 25-23.
“Having the in-state rivalry is great,” Williamson said. “It gets everyone excited and the players rise to the occasion.”
SDSU currently holds a subpar 2-16 record, with their lone wins coming against Milwaukee and UMKC.
“We’re looking to play our game, not let them control us and come away with the victory,” Kerns said.
The game will start Friday at 7 p.m. in Sanford Coyote Sports Center before hitting the road for another Summit League matchup Sunday afternoon at Denver.