Coyotes stave off Pioneers to continue win streak

VERMILLION, S.D. – South Dakota overcame Denver in a four-set, high-energy level Summit League volleyball match on Sunday inside the Sanford Coyote Sports Center to push its win streak to 20.

The Coyotes, with three players reaching double figures in kills, moved to 23-1 overall and 12-0 in the Summit League with the 21-25, 30-28, 25-15, 25-16 victory in front of 1,433 fans.

"We love playing at home and this is why," coach Leanne Williamson said. "This was a big match for us.

"When you saw us go on a little bit of a downward spiral there in one of those sets, fans got involved, started making some noise. We're excited to play our next two matches at home on Tuesday and Friday."

The Coyotes had to rally in the second set to avoid going into a 0-2 hole and staved off three set point attempts for Denver before closing out the set when Maddie Wiedenfeld and Madison Jurgens combined on a block, one of nine total blocks in the match.

"We were very close to going down 0-2 and our fans definitely got involved there and we made some plays there at the end," said Williamson. "We got that one game and just really attacked from there.

"We still made some errors and still did some things that were uncharacteristic of us, but I thought we got stronger as the match went on and our serving was absolutely incredible there in sets three and four."

Elizabeth Juhnke reached 20 kills for the first time in Summit League play to lead the way offensively for the Coyotes, who had 63 kills and hit .329 in the match. Sami Slaughter had 16 kills and hit .414 while Elizabeth Loschen chipped in 10 kills and a .391 attack percentage.

South Dakota recorded nine service aces in the match, a season-high in Summit League play, and the second-most overall this season. Brooklyn Bollweg, a freshman, came in off the bench to record three service aces in just eight serve attempts.

"Brooklyn came up with some really big plays for us," said Williamson. "She gave us that little extra push that we needed to close out those sets."

Jurgens contributed 53 assists, five kills, and eight digs. Lolo Weideman matched her season-high with 15 digs and Anne Rasmussen added 14 digs.

The match saw 28 ties and nine lead changes, but 18 ties and eight lead changes of that total came in the second set.

Denver closed the match with a .254 hitting percentage, marking just the third time all season an opponent has hit over .200 against the Coyotes.

It was a complete opposite from the team's first meeting this season in Denver, a Coyote five-set victory, that saw both teams hit under .100 and combine for 70 attack errors.

"We knew that coming into this game it was going to be a battle," said Williamson. "We went five with them at their place the first time we played. Kind of a game of errors.

"Today it was the opposite as both teams were hitting at a really high rate, they were making plays and that was a lot of fun to play in."

The Coyotes close out the home portion of their regular season with Tuesday's match against South Dakota State and Friday's Senior Day match with North Dakota State.