From entering USD as a walk-on her freshman year to becoming the fifth Coyote to reach 1,000 digs and 1,000 kills, Hayley Dotseth surpassed expectations and proved herself as an essential part of the Coyote volleyball team the past four years.
Leading a Coyote team currently standing at second in the Summit League, Dotseth’s 4.09 kills per set are best in the conference and 46th of all NCAA Division-I volleyball players. Her 3.49 digs rank 12th in the conference.
Growing up as a multi-sport athlete, it took a while for Dotseth to discover volleyball was what she wanted to dedicate her time to. She began playing volleyball around age 12 but wasn’t serious about it until high school.
“I think I was always decent at it just being an athletic kid, both my parents were athletes. My sophomore year is when I really committed to volleyball and started making improvements,” Dotseth said.
Arriving at USD, the 5’11” outside hitter was never promised a scholarship, but she knew she wanted to play Division-I volleyball. As a freshman, she recorded 245 kills and 213 digs her first season. That spring, she was told she would be receiving a scholarship the following year.
“It’s great to see your hard work pay off, but it’s never been about that for me. I love it here and I love being able to represent this university,” she said.
Leading and competing
Head volleyball coach Deanne Williamson has coached Dotseth for her entire collegiate career. At the time Dotseth walked on, there was not a scholarship available for her. Williamson said Dotseth quickly surpassed every expectation with her ability to play the game well comes from her competitive edge.
“She is a competitor,” Williamson said. “She knows she wants to be good and she puts in the time and the effort, but she has that competitive edge that a lot of good players have.”
Partaking in both winning seasons and rebuilding seasons, Williamson said Dotseth has a lot of experience to share with others.
“The team knows that everything she does is to make herself and the team better, so they work well because they understand and have that mutual respect,” Williamson said. “People can rely on her in every aspect of the game. She leads our team in a lot of different situations.”
Junior right-side Elizabeth Loschen has been playing with Dotseth for three years. Like Coach Williamson, Loschen believes that a competitive attitude and strong leadership qualities make Dotseth such a strong player.
“She keeps her teammates accountable but also celebrates people’s successes,” Loschen said.
Off the court, Dotseth said her hobbies usually include food in some sort of way. According to Loschen, her and Dotseth enjoy searching for new Mexican restaurants to try.
“I’m from Omaha, and Hayley came to visit, so I took her to this Mexican placed called Roja. We loved it,” Loschen said.
A healthy team environment is one of Dotseth’s favorite parts of her college experience and something she said she’ll miss after graduation, she said.
“I have friends who have gone to other schools to play and just hearing their horror stories about all the drama on the team and the things their coaches do — to be able to be on a team with 16 girls that love each other and have amazing coaches, it’s a great culture,” she said.
Although Dotseth is in her last season at USD, Williamson said they still have a lot of seasons left and will continue to work at getting better each day.
“She will definitely leave a legacy here of herself and how to be a leader, how to work hard every single day and how to put a lot into what you’re trying to do as a team and an individual,” Williamson said. “I think it would be naïve of me to say that she’s not going to leave a void. I hope the leadership she has provided to other people has prepared others to step up.”
As she soaks up her last season as a Coyote, Dotseth said she believes volleyball will remain in her life, no matter what path she takes proceeding graduation.
“You play a sport for ten-plus years for four hours every night. I don’t think that’s something that ever goes away,” she said.