VERMILLION, S.D. – In their first conference match of the season, the Mavericks and South Dakota went head-to-head in the long-awaited rematch of last year’s Summit League Championship. Both teams were at their absolute best as things came down to the wire in set five, ultimately ending in a narrow victory for the first place Coyotes.
With this loss, the Mavericks drop back below .500 at 5-6 and officially open Summit League play at 0-1. Meanwhile, the Coyotes improve to 12-1 overall and 1-0 in the conference.
Set by Set (22-25, 25-16, 25-18, 25-27, 14-16)
- The Mavericks were playing catch up for most of set one after initially falling into a 0-2 hole to start the night. They did briefly take an 8-7 lead after a 4-0 run that included two kills from Marriah Buss and an ace from McKenna Ruch, but the Coyotes promptly took back the lead. Luckily, a service error followed by a kill from Shayla McCormick gave Omaha an 11-9 lead. However, South Dakota immediately responded with six unanswered points. Omaha was able to tie things back up at 22-22 after another McCormick kill and a block by Morgan DeBow, but three straight errors would lead to South Dakota taking set one.
- Omaha came out to hot start in set two, with Ruch scoring the first four Maverick points with two kills and two blocks. The Coyotes managed to hang on for a little bit early on, but once they got within two points at 11-13, the Mavericks fired off five in a row including two more kills from Buss and another McCormick ace. From there, Omaha was able to cruise to victory with help from a trio of Coyote errors.
- Picking up where they left off, the Mavericks came out to a 3-0 lead in set three thanks to kills from DeBow and Kali Jurgensmeier, and a service ace from Jaiden Centeno. Their lead would grow to 11-5 after three more Coyote errors, as well as a pair of aces from McCormick and Ruch. In the second half of the set, Jurgensmeier would pick up four more kills, followed by Ruch with another three and Buss with two, including the set winner.
- Things looked incredibly bleak for the Mavericks at the start of set four as they fell into a 1-10 hole. At this point, the team finally found its groove, cutting the deficit to 6-11 after kills from Buss, McCormick, and Ruch. From there, they slowly but surely managed to chip away at South Dakota’s lead, getting within four points as they sat at 16-20 following two kills each from Buss, McCormick, and DeBow. Omaha eventually managed to tie the set at 24-24 on yet another kill from Buss. After South Dakota retook the lead, Buss would again come in with a clutch kill to re-tie the set at 25-25. Unfortunately, Omaha’s hopes of ending the match right then and there were laid to rest as the Coyotes scored two straight points to win the set and tie the match at 2-2.
- At first, it seemed as though Omaha was carrying its late game surge from set four into set five as the Mavericks took a 6-3 lead. McCormick earned her fifth service ace of the day during this run, while Ruch added one more kill and a block to her ledger. Unfortunately, South Dakota was not out of this yet, as they went on a 6-0 scoring run to take the lead. Omaha mounted a late comeback to tie the set at 14-14, but just like in set four, the Coyotes managed to ice the match by scoring two in a row to close things out.
Inside the Box Score
- The Mavericks led the Coyotes in nearly every major category, coming out on top in points (87-70), kills (65-49), assists (62-46), and blocks (14-13), as well as tying them with eight aces each.
- For the third time this season, four Mavericks reached double-digit kills: Buss (21), Jurgensmeier (12), Ruch (12), and McCormick (11).
- Ruch picked up her first double-double of the season and her first since February 7, 2021, as she finished with 10 total blocks along with her 12 kills.
- McCormick earned her seventh double-double of the season with 11 digs and kills. She also set a career-high with five service aces.
- Today was the third time this season Buss has topped 20 kills. Prior to this season she had reached that total just once in her career.
- Jurgensmeier matched her career high in kills while also setting a new personal best with a .440 attack percentage.
The Mavericks continue their South Dakota road trip on Saturday when they head to Brookings, S.D. for a conference tilt with South Dakota State at 1 p.m.