Behind outstanding play from sophomore Makenna Rockeman, University of Sioux Falls Volleyball recorded two wins as hosts on the first day of the Country Inn & Suites Invitational on Friday. The Cougars (4-2) downed Bemidji State 3-1 (25-17,21-25,25-7,25-14) in the first game with Rockeman and junior setter Sydney Schaap posting career days. In the night cap, Sioux Falls posted an impressive .395 team attack percentage as they crushed William Jewell 3-0 (25-14, 25-10, 25-16) for their fourth straight win.
On the day, Rockeman finished with 39 kills, including a career-best 22 in four sets of work against Bemidji State. Rockeman was the benefactor of a banner day from Schaap, who posted a career-high 52 assists in the first match, and she added 29 more in split duty against William Jewell.
The Cougars recorded a .363 attack percentage between the two games and limited their opponents to hitting percentages below .120 for the day. USF finished with 20 total blocks to help their defensive effort with middle blockers Jordan Calef and Lexi Scott contributing on all but one.
Sioux Falls closes nonconference play with two more matches on Saturday, hosting Minnesota Crookston at 11:30 a.m. and South Dakota School of Mines and Technology at 7 p.m. in the tournament finale.
Sioux Falls 3, Bemidji State 1 (25-17,21-25,25-7,25-14)
After a comfortable first set victory over Bemidji State to open the nonconference match, Sioux Falls struggled in the second before recovering for a dominating finish and two more set wins to take the match by a 3-1 score.
Rockeman was lights out the entire match, posting five kills in the first set and adding six more in the second set while the rest of the Cougar offense slowed. USF steadily built a first set lead and methodically built upon that lead with a .371 team attack percentage in the opening frame.
The Cougars were held to a .184 attack percentage in the second set and surrendered a lead midway through the frame. BSU broke a 12-12 tie with a 7-3 run then continued to side out USF for a 25-21 win.
After the match was tied at 1-1, Sioux Falls stepped on the gas and blew away Bemidji State. The Cougars outscored the Beavers 50-21 over the third and fourth sets, hitting .429 in the final two frames. Rockeman was stellar from the service line early in the third set, leading a 14-point run in which she posted three more kills. To close out the blowout set, Lexi Scott hammered down three of her 12 kills for a 25-7 win.
The Cougars were equally dominant in the fourth set, but not after being tested early. Rockeman scored three kills early but was answered by BSU's Jessica Yost on several occasions. With a two-point lead, Aubrey Milne's kill sparked a 10-point run that featured kills from four different Cougars, including three Scott terminations, and two service aces from Janelle Lam. Up by double digits, USF coasted to the 25-14 win to secure the match.
Sioux Falls 3, William Jewell 1 (25-14, 25-10, 25-16)
The only two unbeaten teams on the day met in the Friday primetime match, but it was Sioux Falls who flexed its muscles in a crushing 3-0 sweep of William Jewell. The Cougars hit .395 in the match, again led by Makenna Rockeman and stellar defense up front by Lexi Scott and Bria Barfnecht. In the back row, Abby Folk was equally important to the Cougar defense, picking up 13 digs to help keep William Jewell to a .000 attack percentage in the first two sets of the match.
A balanced offense led the Cougars to a substantial lead early in the first set, kills from four Cougars, two apiece from Rockeman and Jordan Calef, in the the opening eight points of the set. Aubrey Milne posted two more as the Cougars' lead grew and Rockeman put the finishing touches on the set with two more terminations down the stretch for a 25-14 win.
USF wasted no time building their lead in the second set, racing out to a 10-3 advantage behind four service aces, including two from setter Sydney Schaap.
Capping off a 6-0 run, Abby Folk recorded a kill when she dove to hit an over ball after Janelle Lam kept the play alive with a perfect pancake, and Folk's placement was too much for a point that raised the crowd to its feet.
USF strung together a 9-0 run on the back of stellar front row defense that featured three blocks from the Scott-Barfnecht combo. After Scott posted a pair of kills to extend the lead, Rockeman put the punctuation mark on the second set with a kill and a 25-10 win.
For the first time all match, the Cougars trailed when they lost the first point of the third set. Their deficit didn't last long as they scored four straight and never trailed again. Rockeman had four kills in USF's first seven points and she added four more in a short span to arrive at 17 for the match. The Cougars held a substantial lead when Abby Feyereisen brought the Cougars to their match point with a kill and the Scott sealed it with another termination.