Harrisburg native feeling 'at home' at USD

VERMILLION, S.D. (KSFY) - The University of South Dakota volleyball team is off to a great start to the new season - a year after the team won the Summit League Tournament title and went to the NCAA Tournament.

The Coyotes are 13-1 overall and 2-0 in Summit League play. And a junior transfer, who decided to come home is helping lead the way.

Harrisburg native Sami Slaughter is glad to be home and wearing Coyote red.

"Once I arrived on campus everyone welcoming me with open arms and that was a lot of fun," Slaughter said. "And I've been enjoying USD."

Slaughter was one of South Dakota's best high school players ever, leading the Tigers to a state title her senior year. She signed with Division I powerhouse Nebraska where she was on the Huskers NCAA championship team as a freshman.

"It was amazing," she said. "I won the state championship my senior year and I thought that was so cool and then I turned around and won a national championship and that was unreal. It was so exciting and I couldn't have picked better teammates to win it with."

Slaughter played on a national runner up team her sophomore season at Nebraska, but she wasn't getting much court time so she decided to enter the transfer portal. It wasn't long before the Coyotes came calling.

"I was hoping she'd want to come home," said Leanne Williamson, USD volleyball coach. "You know, we did recruit her actually twice out of high school. The first time when she committed down to Creighton and then she de-committed, so we reached out again. And I understand it was nothing personal but that's why those relationships are so important."

"It definitely was," Slaughter said. "It was closer to home, all my relatives are like 30 minutes away so that's awesome. But my connection to Leanne and the coaching staff was just like unreal."

And it's been a great fit. As expected, Slaughter is one of the Coyotes top players with 181 kills to this point.

"She is a great player," Williamson said. "She's long she's physical. She's able to hit the ball really hard. She's can do some things that some of the players in the past haven't been able to just because of her length."

"I feel like I'm not a full-on leader by communicating," Slaughter said. "But I like to lead by example on the court and I think that I know the game pretty well where I can help my other teammates out as well. Hopefully, we'll win another Summit League and hopefully get really far in the tournament. That would be awesome."

Slaughter and the Coyotes are home this weekend. They'll host Omaha Friday night and Denver on Sunday.