The Coyotes advance to the NCAA Volleyball Tournament


University of South Dakota won The Summit League Tournament on April 3, 2021 at the Sanford Pentagon.

Claire Brown, Staff Writer

The University of South Dakota went into The Summit League Tournament as the underdogs, upsetting both the number two and one seed to advance to the NCAA Volleyball Tournament.

On April 2 and 3, The Sanford Pentagon hosted The Summit League Volleyball Tournament. The winner of the tournament would receive an automatic bid into the NCAA Volleyball Tournament hosted in Omaha, Nebraska in mid-April. 

On April 2, the semi-finals of the tournament began on Heritage Court at the Pentagon. The first game was the number one seed, the University of Denver, vs. the number four seed, the University of Nebraska Omaha. The game ended with Denver sweeping Omaha, allowing Denver to advance to the championship game. The second match of the day featured the number two seed, University of Missouri-Kansas City, vs. the number three seed, University of South Dakota. South Dakota advanced to the championship after defeating Kansas City in five sets. 

The University of South Dakota has a team full of well-talented players; Sami Slaughter, Elizabeth Juhnke and Lolo Weideman are just a few of South Dakota’s key players, and they were also named to the Summit League’s all-tournament team. Sami Slaughter is a former player from the University of Nebraska where she helped them win a national championship. She is a senior outside hitter, and helps lead the team with kills and blocks making her a key player for the coyotes. Another key player for the coyotes is sophomore outside hitter Elizabeth Juhnke. She plays front and back row and is an all around stand out because of her consistency and being able to get a kill from anywhere on the court. Lolo Weideman, a junior libero, is also an outstanding player for the coyotes. She helps her team get many unexpected saves and is always hustling to make each play better. Overall, the South Dakota team has many outstanding volleyball players that contribute so much to their team.

The championship for The Summit League Tournament began at two o’clock on April 3. As soon as the game began, the fans were going crazy despite only having 320 fans there for COVID-19 purposes. They also had only one side of the arena filled with fans and had the seats spaced out so people could social distance. Denver started off strong and beat South Dakota in the first two sets (25-19 and 28-26), but South Dakota was determined to come back. South Dakota started off the set going back and forth with Denver until the last few points when they made a comeback winning the set, 27-25. South Dakota had to fight if they wanted to go to a fifth set and potentially win the game. They brought back the same determination they had in set three and ended up winning set four 26-24, causing the game to go to five sets. Both teams wanted to win the championship, they had to work harder than they have ever had before. Just when South Dakota thought they won the game, Denver’s coach challenged the call and they had to fight again to win. After three long hours of volleyball, South Dakota finally won the fifth set 19-17, making them the Summit League champions.

South Dakota will take on Missouri on April 14 for the first round of the NCAA tournament. They are going into the tournament not ranked, but if they win the first round, they will play the 9th seed, Ohio State.