SDSU defeats Denver at Summit tourney

Molly Sheppard/USD

VERMILLION – Making only their third appearance in the Summit League volleyball tournament since joining the league in 2007 – and first appearance since 2010 – the Jackrabbit volleyball team entered as the tournament’s final seed and took on the third-seeded Denver Pioneers, a team that not only beaten SDSU twice in the regular season, but swept the Jacks.

The third time was the charm as the Jackrabbits rallied from a 2-1 set deficit to upset Denver and advance to the conference semifinals on Thursday night inside the Sanford Coyote Sports Center on the USD campus.

Denver never trailed in the first set in winning 25-19.

The Pioneers opened up as large as a seven-point lead while hitting .267, compared to SDSU’s .037 hitting percentage.

The Jackrabbits also committed six service errors in the set.

SDSU got back on track in the second set, opening with a 5-0 run to for a Pioneers timeout.

The Jacks would open the lead to 7-1 on a pair of errors from Denver, but the Pioneers would climb back to tie the set at nine each, using a five-point rally of their own.

Tied at 12, SDSU went up three points after two Denver errors and a kill from Sydney Andrews gave them a 15-12 lead, but again the Pioneers would rally to tie the set at 16 before back-to-back kills from Ella Thompson along with a Pioneers attack error forced Denver to burn a timeout trailing 19-16.

SDSU would go on to win the set, 25-23, to tie the match at one set each.

The Jacks and Pioneers traded points in the third set, and tied at 18, Denver went on a two separate three-point runs to close out the Jacks, 25-21, to move a set away from advancing.

In the middle of the fourth set, trailing 11-9, SDSU rattled won seven of eight points to take a 16-12 lead but would be forced to use a timeout when Denver rallied to tie the set at 17.

A pair of kills from Crystal Burk gave SDSU the lead, and Chloe Stitt put a cap on the set with a kill to give the Jacks a 25-23 fourth-set win in which they hit .234 to .167 for Denver.

The Jackrabbits also scored six points in the fourth set on blocks in which Hailee Blau recorded four blocks.

The fifth set could not have started much better for the Jacks as they opened a 4-0 lead, forced Denver to use a timeout trailing 6-1 after kills from Blau and Andrews, and after Stitt’s kill and a Burk service ace led 8-1 in the race to 15, making the Pioneers burn their final timeout of the set.

Andrews and Blau added kills to make it 10-3, and leading 11-7 the Jacks and Pioneers would trade points the rest of the set, punctuated by Burk’s kill to give SDSU the set, 15-10, and the match, 3-2.

Stitt (12 kills and 12 digs and Burk (11 kills and 16 digs) each had double-doubles for the Jacks.

Thompson added nine kills, Andrews had eight, and both Blau and Elyse Winter recorded seven kills.

Tatum Pickar led SDSU with 17 digs.

Denver was led by Hailey Green with 23 kills, Tina Boe with 13, and Lydia Bartalo with 11.

SDSU hit .208 for the match to Denver’s .194.

The Pioneers posted nine service aces compared to the Jackrabbits’ four, but Denver also committed 12 service errors to just five for SDSU.

The Jacks had 16 blocks in the match to just eight for Denver.

With the win SDSU advances to the tournament semifinals where they will face tournament host South Dakota, the tournament’s number-two seed. First serve is scheduled for 7 p.m. tonight.

In the tournament’s other match, fifth-seeded Oral Roberts knocked off number four Kansas City, 3-1.

The Golden Eagles will face the regular-season champion and top seeded Mavericks of Omaha at 4:30 p.m.


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