VERMILLION, S.D. – Playing in front of the second-largest crowd for volleyball in Sanford Coyote Sports Center history fueled South Dakota to a big five-set victory over Iowa to close out the South Dakota Classic on Saturday evening.
On a night where the 2018 Summit League Tournament championship banner was unveiled, a big crowd of 1,637 provided the energy and made for an electric environment for a volleyball match as the Coyotes used that energy in big chunks during the match with the Big Ten Hawkeyes.
South Dakota (9-1) prevailed 25-17, 15-25, 25-18, 21-25, 20-18 in its first-ever home match against a Big Ten opponent. Each team fought off three match points for the other before South Dakota finally closed out the two hour and 21-minute marathon match with a kill from senior Elizabeth Loschen.
"I hope the fans had a great time, it definitely sounded like they did," coach Leanne Williamson said. "They got going and that gives us so much energy. I don't think people really understand how much that does for our team.
"We're pretty excitable group as it is, but when we get a big block and this place erupts, it's an incredible moment."
The Coyotes, the Summit League leaders in blocks per set, had five of their 11 total team blocks in the match in the first set, behind freshman Madison Harms five block assists in that set.
Each team had three individuals with over 10 kills in the match, including one each with more than 20, as freshman Elizabeth Juhnke led the Coyotes with a career-high 26 kills, with just six errors for a .317 hitting percentage. Juhnke recorded a double-double in the match as she added 13 digs.
Juhnke, named to the all-tourney team along with Sami Slaughter and Anne Rasmussen, the tourney MVP, had seven of her match-high kill total in the final set, a set that saw 11 tie scores and three lead changes.
Slaughter had 17 kills and a .316 hitting percentage while Rasmussen had 30 digs and in the process moved past Riley Haug into third on the career digs list in the match.
Loschen chipped in 12 kills, Maddie Wiedenfeld had eight while Madison Jurgens contributed 55 assists, 14 digs, three kills and one ace serve.
"We knew this team could be very special," said Williamson. "So many people want to talk about last year and last year was a lot of fun. We made history and you know tonight with the banner unveiling was amazing.
"Our focus is constantly on what's next and that's something that we've been sharing a lot with our team. We started working for the fall back in the spring. So they've been putting in the time, they've been putting in the work and I think to see their hard work kind of come to light and see that we can play with and beat team's like this is a great moment for our program and something that's we're going to continue to write off."
South Dakota closes out non-conference play with a pair of matches on Friday in Peoria, Illinois against Northern Illinois and host Bradley.