BROOKINGS – South Dakota State volleyball won its third-straight match Tuesday night when the Jackrabbits defeated North Dakota State 3-1.
SDSU took the first set 25-18, but the Bison came back and won the second set 25-18. SDSU head coach Dan Georgalas said the Jacks’ defense struggled in the second set.
“[I told them] to get back to digging the ball. We had 17 digs in the first, but we only had nine in the second. So [we] found our serve receive and started to score from every position, not just the left, and it just came down to defense. We missed some easy digs in the second and allowed them to get some momentum,” Georgalas said.
SDSU would come out of the break and win two close sets. The Jacks led for most of the third and came away with a 25-22 win. The fourth set went back and forth. NDSU led 19-18 when the Jacks went on a 5-0 run, four of the points coming with Anna Nerad serving. SDSU then hung on to win the set 25-21.
“We played well at the end,” Georgalas said. “We kept earning a one-point lead and then maybe serving them back into it with an error. What I just told them was that was a team win. Huge complementary role performance from Akeela Jefferson, and we don’t win that game without Anna Nerad going on a big service run. That’s those two players being good teammates and hard workers, and making the most out of the role that they do have and a it made a huge difference tonight.”
Jefferson had four digsa and two kills. Crystal Burk led the Jacks with 17 kills and 11 digs. Sydney Andrews had 11 kills and Chloe Stitt had eight.
Ella Thompson had nine kills, five blocks and three digs. Elyse Winter had seven kills, five blocks and four digs.
Carly Wedel had 44 assists and eight digs. Tatum Pickar and Faith Saewert each had nine digs.
Syra Teanchin led the Bison with 18 kills. Ali Hinze had 16 digs and 13 kills.
Raegan Reilly had 18 digs and Kelley Johnson had 16. Kaylee Hanger had seven digs.
SDSU had 54 kills and NDSU had 43. The Jacks had 50 digs and 48 assists. The Bison had 57 digs and 42 assists. SDSU held a 11-10 advantage in blocks.
SDSU is now 12-6 overall and 4-3 in the Summit League. The Jacks are 8-1 at home and all of their conference wins have come at Frost Arena.
Georgalas said he thinks the crowd at Frost has helped build confidence for his team.
“[We’ve been successful at home] because of our gameday process. We’ve been consistent, and the crowd here at Frost has been electric. The culture of volleyball is changing and improving, and I think you can feel the energy is back in this building again,” Georgalas said.
The Jacks are now in sixth place in the Summit League. They are now 10-13 in conference play in their past 23 matches dating back to the start of last season. SDSU was 6-48 in the Summit League in the three seasons prior.
SDSU has yet to win a true road game. The Jacks are 0-5 on the road and 4-0 on neutral court.
They will have two more chances to pick up their first road win this weekend when they face Denver on Thursday at 7 p.m. and then travel to Omaha for a 3 p.m. match on Saturday.
Omaha is in first place in the Summit League with a league record of 6-0 and a 9-7 overall record.
Denver is not far behind the Mavericks as the Pioneers ar 5-1 in conference and are in third place. The Pioneers are 14-2 this season.
“We need to do [everything] well [to win on the road],” Georgalas said. “We need to play some good defense on the road. Usually the home team is real comfortable in serve receive and scoring and stuff like that. We need to come out and play the full game because you just need that to win on the road. Winning on the road is just so tough and we’re going to go try to get our first one.”