South Dakota State volleyball drops final match of the season to Omaha

BROOKINGS, S.D. - The South Dakota State women's volleyball team fell to Omaha, 3-1 (20-25, 25-16, 23-25, 18-25) in its season finale on Sunday at Frost Arena.

The Jackrabbits concluded its season with an overall record of 6-22 and 3-13 in Summit League matches. Omaha, who will be advancing to the Summit League Championship, is 17-13, 10-6 Summit League.

"I feel like we competed well," said head coach Nicole Cirillo. "Omaha is a good team, they are hard to slow down offensively. In set 2 and really throughout the whole match, we kept finding ways to stay in it. I know the season maybe didn't go the way that we all kind of thought it would, but I do still feel like we took a step forward."

Makenzie Hennen led the team with 16 kills while adding eight digs, two blocks, and a service ace. Crystal Burk recorded a double-double with 12 kills and 12 digs. Ashlynn Smith added nine kills, on a .467 hitting clip, to the offensive efforts. Madison Fay tallied 19 assists and Carly Wedel had 17. Tatum Pickar held a team-best 16 digs, while Tori Thompson and Anna Nerad each recorded three blocks.

The Mavericks got out to an early 10-4 lead, but a 7-2 Jackrabbit run, capped off by kills from Hennen and Nerad, put State within one. From there each team went on short runs, but Omaha held its lead through the remainder of the set, taking the first 25-20.

The Jackrabbits opened the second set with a 7-3 advantage. State carried its momentum throughout the set as Omaha never came closer than two points. The Jacks led 21-16 when kills by Burk and Smith, a Hennen ace and a Maverick error tied the match at 1-1 as SDSU took the second set, 25-16.

Omaha held a 7-3 lead in the third when the Jacks went on a 5-1 run to tie it at 8-8. The teams traded points until a kill by Burk gave SDSU a 13-12 edge. Omaha scored six unanswered points to pull ahead 18-13. The Jackrabbits came within one on three occasions throughout the remainder of the set, but ultimately Omaha won set three, 25-23.

Omaha carried its momentum into the fourth set, taking an early 6-2 advantage. An 8-4 run by the Jacks tied it a 10-all. The Mavericks dominated play throughout the remainder of the set, winning the match (3-1) with a 25-18 fourth set victory.

Seniors Makenzie Hennen and Ashlynn Smith were honored prior to the match as part of Senior Day.

"Kenzie going out on Senior Day with 16 kills, hitting .217. Ashlynn hitting almost .500, you couldn't ask for a better send out as far as individual performance goes from those two to lead our team and to continue to show the direction that the program is headed," Cirillo said. "Those two specifically have had a huge impact on this program from when they came in and how they are leaving it now."

South Dakota State finished tied for eight in the Summit League standings and will not be advancing into the postseason as only the top six teams make it to the Summit League Championship.