USD volleyball (15-1) earned their eleventh straight win Thursday over Omaha (9-9) before adding its twelfth on Sunday against Denver (10-6). The team is now ranked No. 33 in NCAA Women’s Volleyball rating percentage index (RPI).
USD vs. Omaha
After winning the first two sets, the Coyotes fended off an Omaha comeback 25-21, 25-23, 20-25, 25-27, 15-11. The match was USD’s first of the season decided in the fifth set.
“We need to expect that everyone is going to push us and that they are going to give us their best match,” head coach Leanne Williamson said. “I think our team knows that we need to continue to get better. They’ve worked extremely hard at practices. We were happy with the way they executed and also learned.”
Omaha’s strong defensive performance, which included 14 blocks and 77 digs, kept the Coyotes from comfortably putting the game away. Williamson said she believes this challenged the Coyote’s hitters as the game went on.
“Omaha played really good defense, and I think it frustrated our hitters,” Williamson said. “They forced our hitters to think a little bit and we didn’t handle that extremely well like we have in the past.”
Sophomore setter Madison Jurgens led the team with 52 assists in the match, while junior outside hitter Sami Slaughter added 20 kills and 4 blocks. Freshman outside hitter Elizabeth Juhnke and freshman middle blocker Madison Harms contributed 11 and 10 kills respectively.
USD also held solid defensively, holding Omaha to a .159 hitting percentage. Harms and sophomore middle blocker Maddie Wiedenfeld both tallied six blocks on the night while senior defensive specialist Anne Rasmussen added 22 digs.
“Fifth sets are going to be important to our success,” Williamson said. “I would be surprised if this is the only one that we play in this year, so to be able to come out in those moments and get stronger was really good to see.”
USD vs. Denver
Tuesday, USD secured their second consecutive fifth-set victory over Denver, whom they defeated in last year’s Summit League Championship, fighting back from a 2-1 deficit to win 25-23, 11-25, 20-25, 25-16, 15-13. The victory improved the Coyote’s Summit League record to 4-0. They are the lone undefeated team in conference play.
The Coyotes only led in one major statistical category for the game, out-blocking the Pioneers 18-9.
“We have people that can make plays,” Williamson said. “We have players that can get us out of some tough situations.”
Juhnke led the charge offensively, securing 15 kills as Slaughter added 10 more. Jurgens dished 30 assists for the match.
Wiedenfeld tallied six blocks again, while Slaughter and sophomore middle blocker Claire Gerdes contributed five each. Rasmussen had 21 digs on the night.
The Coyotes, riding a 12-game win streak, travel to Brookings Tuesday to take on SDSU on Tuesday, Oct. 8 at 7 p.m.