Coyotes Beat Denver In Key Summit League Match

USD avenges loss at Denver with 5-set victory behind Reeg

South Dakota senior Audrey Reeg swatted down a season-high 24 kills and sophomore libero Lauren Mattison added a career-high 27 digs to lead the Coyotes past the Denver Pioneers 25-18, 24-26, 25-23, 21-25, 15-13 Friday night in the Sanford Coyote Sports Center.

The win moves South Dakota (23-6, 12-3) into a first-place tie with Denver (20-7, 12-3) in the Summit League standings, with one game remaining. The Coyotes end the regular season at home against South Dakota State Saturday as Denver travels to Fargo, N.D., for a match against North Dakota State Sunday. The Coyotes win the regular season title if they beat SDSU and NDSU beats Denver. South Dakota gets a share of the title if both USD and DU win.

“Tonight’s game was about heart,” said South Dakota head volleyball coach Leanne Williamson. “We didn’t always play our best game, but we never backed down. We knew what we needed to do to have success, and we were able to capitalize on some points throughout the match.

“Lauren had a great game defensively, which really gave our hitters a lot of opportunities. Audrey scored the ball a lot, although she knows that her errors will need to be limited in the future. We are excited to play for a conference championship tomorrow.”

Redshirt sophomore Rachel Schmidt and freshman Elizabeth Loschen joined Reeg with double-digit kills. Schmidt tallied 13 and Loschen had 11 more. Reeg had 12 digs to go along with her kills and recorded her 16th double-double of the season.

Junior setter Brittany Jessen kept the Coyote offense going with a season-high 57 assists. It’s her third game this year with 50-plus assists. She added 17 digs, nine kills, four service aces and two block assists.

Defensively, freshman Anne Rasmussen totaled 17 digs and sophomore Hayley Dotseth added 14 more. Senior middle blocker Lindsey Brown led the Coyotes with three block assists.

As a team, USD had 95 digs compared to Denver’s 76 and five service aces to DU’s three. The only category that Denver topped South Dakota in was total team blocks as the Pioneers had 17 compared to the Coyotes’ seven.

South Dakota was leading the first game 15-14 and added to its lead with a 4-0 to make it 19-14. Schmidt tallied a kill during the run and Loschen added a block. The teams would go back-and-forth in scoring the rest of the way as USD claimed the first set 25-18. Denver would answer in the second set with a 26-24 win and tied up the match at 1-1.

The third game was tied a total of six times. With the score all knotted up at 15, Schmidt tallied a kill and Jessen and Brown combined for a block to give South Dakota a 17-15 lead. Denver closed the gap to one at 20-19, but Reeg put the Coyotes back up by two after a kill. Denver got the score to a one-point game two more times, 23-22 and 24-23, before Loschen swatted the final kill of the third game and gave USD a 25-23 win and a 2-1 match lead. Again, Denver would answer and win the fourth game 25-21, and the match was tied 2-2.

In the fifth and final set, USD jumped out to a 7-2 lead. Dotseth served an ace, Jessen tallied two kills and an ace and Reeg added a kill during the run. The Coyotes were up 10-5 before Denver went on a 5-0 run and tied up the match. Coming out of a USD timeout, Schmidt connected on a kill to give the lead back to the Coyotes. With USD up 13-12, redshirt junior Meagan Kerns swatted down one of her three kills to put the Coyotes at match-point. A couple plays later, Reeg hit the final kill to give South Dakota a 15-13 game-five win and a 3-2 match win.

The Coyotes finish the regular season at home and host South Dakota State for senior day Saturday at 6 p.m.