Coyote volleyball advances to NIVC Championship

VERMILLION, S.D. — The Sanford Coyote Sports Center is hosting a national championship match Tuesday night.

South Dakota advanced to the title game of the National Invitational Volleyball Tournament by topping Tulsa 3-1 Saturday before a home crowd of 1,315. Scores went 19-25, 21-25, 25-15, 25-13.

The Coyotes improved to 31-2 overall and 14-0 at home. Their 18-match home win streak is tied for fourth-best in the nation. Georgia Tech (25-8) of the Atlantic Coast Conference will come to Vermillion for Tuesday's championship match.

Elizabeth Juhnke led South Dakota with 24 kills, becoming just the second Coyote in single season history to reach the 500 kill mark. The freshman, who added 14 digs and two blocks, now has 505 on the season.

"We had to go back to being gritty and not that we didn't make some plays in the first set and even into the second set, we didn't feel like we were playing our best volleyball," coach Leanne Williamson said. "But, we found another level."

Maddie Wiedenfeld added 10 kills and Madison Harms and Elizabeth Loschen chipped in seven each in a match that saw South Dakota have 58 kills and hit .201 while Tulsa had just 37 kills and hit .074.

Madison Jurgens had 46 assists, surpassing 1,400 assists in a single season, while the sophomore setter added a season-high 18 digs for her 19th double-double (assists-digs) of the season. Anne Rasmussen had 22 digs and moved up to seventh on the Summit League's career digs list with 1,991. Lolo Weideman added career-high 17 digs while the sophomore had three of the team's seven service aces to give her an even 50 on the season.

"Lolo came up big, Anne came up big, we start keeping ourselves in plays and giving ourselves multiple opportunities to score," said Williamson. "Then, as the offense settled in, we became more confident and more comfortable as rallies went on and definitely as the match went on."

Mehana Fonseca added 10 digs as one of five Coyotes in double digits in digs in a match where they set a season-high with 89.

Tulsa, out of the American Athletic Conference, got nine kills from Callie Cook and eight from Kayley Cassaday, but saw its season end at 18-16. The Hurricane, which lost 3-0 to USD at a tournament early in the season in Kansas City, outblocked the Coyotes 11-9, but negative hitting percentages in the third and fourth sets sealed its fate. Taylor Horsfall, the nation's leader in digs, had a match-high 29 for the Hurricane.