By: Aubrie Laufenberg
Score: No. 1 Denver 2, No. 2 South Dakota 3
Records: Denver (27-2), South Dakota (21-9)
Location: Hamilton Gymnasium
Denver, Colo. –South Dakota captured its first Summit League Volleyball Championship on Sunday, defeating Denver (27-25, 24-26, 19-25, 25-21, 15-6) in the title match at Hamilton Gymnasium. The Coyotes will be making their first appearance in the NCAA Tournament and clinched their first automatic berth as a Summit League member.
Who Stood Out
South Dakota was led by Tournament MVP Taylor Wilson's season-best 24 kills on a team-high .511 hitting percentage. Hayley Dotseth chipped in 17 kills, while Elizabeth Loschen added 12 more. Madison Jurgens finished the match with 48 assists. On the defensive end, five Coyotes tallied double-digit digs. Jurgens led the defense with 20 digs, while Anne Rasmussen added 18 more. Dotseth contributed 15 digs, as Mehana Fonseca secured 14 and Lolo Weideman tallied 11 more.
The Pioneers had three in double-digits for kills. Becca Latham had a team-high 22 kills on a .362 hitting percentage, while Emma Willis hammered down 16 kills and Tina Boe added 14 more. Willis finished the match with a team-best .483 clip. Ellie Anderson finished with 34 assists as Andrea Eddy chipped in 21 more. Defensively, three Pioneers saw double-digits. Macy Carrabine led with 25 digs as Lydia Bartalo had 17 and Eddy finished with 13.
The Final Set
It all came down to the fifth and final set. South Dakota brought momentum in the first set to gut out a tight 27-25 victory, but Denver answered in the second to tie it up with a 26-24 win. The Pioneers fed off the victory and took home the third set 25-19 to push the lead to 2-1. South Dakota wasn't having it. The Coyotes came back in the fourth and took the set 25-21.
The fifth set started with a kill by Denver's Boe, which would be the only lead The Pioneers would have the rest of the match. Dotseth responded to Boe's kill with a kill of her own to tie the score 1-1. A Denver error would give USD the lead that would fuel them the rest of the set. Wilson hammered down a kill to push the score to 8-4 in the Coyotes favor. DU's Taylor Joachim would finish a kill to put the Pioneers within three, which is the closest they would come. Wilson went on to record her 24th kill of the match to spark a 6-1 run for the Coyotes to capture the championship title 15-6.
"I feel like I am proud. I am happy. I am sad for some reason. I am just overcome with emotion," head coach Leanne Williamson said. "Our team battled every point and even in set two when we felt like we should have been able to close out and not let that phase us just shows a lot about this team.
"Taylor has been incredible for us all year. I think you saw it a little bit more on display because we are on the big stage at this point in time and I think one of those coolest things is she has been sick the last two days. I know she was feeling like she was going to pass out a couple of times so for her to come in and really try and put that aside and not allow that to affect her, she was smart and disciplined and really led her team in those areas."
"It is huge to win this championship. You look at this team as individuals right now and the fact that we have been working for this since day one, this is ultimately what we want and why we play this game. We have been talking about getting to this stage and taking home that trophy for years and to say that we have done it now there is a little weight off the shoulders. We can come into Denver and we can knock off a top-seeded team on their home floor if you are willing to work together and put in the effort. It is huge for us."
- The last time a championship match went to five sets was back in 2015 when Denver and Omaha met in the championship.
- This is the first time since 2012 that a No. 2 seed has beaten a No. 1 seed in the championship match (No. 2 Purdue Fort Wayne beat No. 1 IUPUI 3-0)
- Jurgens' double-double today makes this her 11th double-double of the season
- Dotseth's double-double during today's match is the 21st double-double for her of the season
- This is Eddy's seventh double-double of the season
- Latham's 22 kills on the match is a season-best
2018 All-Tournament Team
Taylor Wilson, South Dakota (Tournament MVP)
Hayley Dotseth, South Dakota
Madison Jurgens, South Dakota
Emma Willis, Denver
Becca Latham, Denver
Jordan Vail, North Dakota
Sadie Limback, Omaha,
Nicole Rightnowar, Purdue Fort Wayne
Abbi Klos, North Dakota State
South Dakota advances to its first-ever NCAA Division I Women's Volleyball Championship. The bracket for the championship will be announced Sunday, Nov. 25 at 7:30 p.m. CT on ESPNU.
ABOUT THE SUMMIT LEAGUE
Through 36 years of Division I athletics, The Summit League offers 19 championship sports and has a combined enrollment of nearly 115,000 at nine institutions, including three located in top 60 U.S. metro populations and two land-grant universities. Member institutions include: Denver (University of Denver), Purdue Fort Wayne (Purdue University Fort Wayne), the University of North Dakota, North Dakota State University, Omaha (University of Nebraska Omaha), Oral Roberts University, the University of South Dakota, South Dakota State University and Western Illinois University. Previously known as the Mid-Continent Conference, The Summit League rebranded in 2007 and has since produced 12 NCAA Champions along with over 100 Academic All-Americans, nearly 125 All-America selections and numerous former student-athletes competing at the highest professional level. For more information about the league, visit www.thesummitleague.org website, follow The Summit League on Twitter @thesummitleague.