SIOUX FALLS, S.D.-With a season-high 736 fans in attendance for the annual Pink Match at the Sanford Pentagon, the South Dakota State volleyball team fell 25-18, 25-16 and 25-18 to Denver Friday night in Summit League action.
"There were some good things we did, but we really struggled with our first contact in our passing and just really struggled to get anything started from a momentum standpoint," fourth-year head coach Nicole Cirillo said. "When we had the passes, we did good things. We were able to run our offense and get some good kills, some good scramble plays, but that first contact is where we were in trouble all night."
The Jackrabbits (4-19, 1-9) were led by Makenzie Hennen, who recorded eight kills and three block assists. Sierra Peterson and Ashlynn Smith added seven and six kills, respectively.
The league-leading Pioneers (21-1, 10-0) were led by Katarina Marinkovic, who had 10 kills. Lydia Bartalo added eight kills and seven service aces. DU finished with 11 service aces.
What happened: After Denver opened the first set with a 7-0 run, the Jackrabbits got back-to-back kills by Peterson to come within 9-6. The Jacks trailed 21-15 but saw Denver's Mary Carrabine record three-straight service aces.
The teams traded points to open the second set. The Jacks led 7-5 after two-straight Peterson kills. Her third kill of the set made it 8-6. Denver responded with four-straight points for a 10-8 lead. After the Pioneers built a 17-11 lead, South Dakota State responded with a 4-1 run fueled by two Hennen kills. Marinkovic recorded three kills in a 5-1 run for a 23-15 lead.
Denver opened the third set with an 8-0 run. The Jacks scored seven of the next 11 points to make it 12-7. Denver held a 24-12 lead before Hennen led a 6-0 run with two kills.
South Dakota State returns to action Sunday when it hosts North Dakota State at 2 p.m. in Frost Arena.
For more information on the South Dakota State volleyball team, follow the Jackrabbits on Twitter (@GoJacksVB) or like South Dakota State volleyball on Facebook.