Denver, CO – The USD volleyball team earned a spot in the Summit League Conference Tournament Semifinals Saturday. They defeated the Fort Wayne Mastodons 25-23, 21-25, 25-13 and 25-21.
The Coyotes had three players with more than 10 kills. Britt Jessen, a senior setter, earned a triple-double in kills, digs and assists. Jessen’s kill percentage was .625, hitting zero errors. Hayley Dotseth, a junior outside hitter, lead the way in kills with 16 on the match, and sophomore right side, Elizabeth Loschen, ended the match with 12 kills.
The Coyotes faced a rocky road at the beginning of the match – it took them until third set to settle in and find their rhythm. The biggest change in the match was the Coyote secondary.
Head Coach Leanne Williamson said it was important for the defense to adjust to Fort Wayne’s hitters.
“I think the biggest thing was our defensive attitude, during games one and two I think we sat back on our heels,” Williamson said. “We weren’t making some of those big plays we’ve made all season. They made a decision to make big plays going into the third set.”
Jessen said she felt defense was an important factor in tonight’s success.
“We changed the defense a couple of times tonight, just from knowing the other team’s personnel,” Jessen said. “The coaches really helped us make those changes.”
A fire seemed to start in the Coyotes after the break between the second and third set. Taylor Wilson, junior middle blocker, came out blazing with two huge kills to start the set. The Coyotes finally came alive – slamming three aces and 15 kills during the third set.
Carrying the spark over into the fourth set was necessary, because the Mastodons were ready to fight. The Coyotes started out four points behind. Battling back, they were able to tie it up at 10 on a Dotseth service ace and then took the lead with a kill from Loschen. During the mid-teens it was neck-and-neck. Breaking the tie at 13-13, a kill from Kristina Susak, a junior outside hitter, the Coyotes took the lead for good.
Kelly Law, a senior middle blocker, said there’s a difference in mindset for the postseason.
“In this setting it’s a survive and advance mentality,” Law said. “Our mentality coming into this game was to do whatever we could do to win, never underestimating our opponents and never taking any matches for granted because you never know which one could be your last.”
The No. 3 Coyotes will play tomorrow against the No. 2 seeded Oral Roberts Golden Eagles, at 7 p.m. CT in the Hamilton Gymnasium in Denver, CO.
“We want to attack the serve and pass battle, they have very strong attackers – so the more we can get them out of system, the better we can defend them on the backside,” Law said of playing the Golden Eagles. “If we play our game, we will win games.”
Follow @volantesports on Twitter for live updates of the match Saturday.