MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. – South Dakota saw its volleyball season come to a close on Friday with a first round NCAA tournament setback to 11th-ranked Minnesota inside Maturi Pavilion, 25-19, 25-22, 25-17.

The victory earned Minnesota (21-8) a second-round matchup with Stanford, which beat Iowa State in the other first-round game hosted by the Golden Gophers. The Cardinal and Golden Gophers will face off at 7 p.m. tonight (Saturday), with the winner advancing to next week’s regional semifinals.

Stephanie Samedy led Minnesota with 13 kills, two ace serves, eight digs and six blocks. Jenna Wenaas posted 10 kills, two ace serves and two blocks. Melani Shaffmaster had 28 assists, three ace serves and two blocks. Katie Myers also had three ace serves and two blocks. Airi Miyabe had eight kills, Ellie Huesmann had eight blocks and Rachel Kilkelly had eight digs in the victory.

The Coyotes came out swinging in a match played in front of 4,280 fans on the home floor of the No. 12 national seed Golden Gophers.

“I’m really proud of our players today,” coach Leanne Williamson said. “I felt like they approached this game in a really positive way.

“Today, I felt like we were aggressive. We were fearless in a lot of situations and some of those times went into errors, but playing against a high-level team like Minnesota, you got to be able to take some risks and I felt like our players did that.”

South Dakota fell behind 8-1 to start the match before overcoming some early nerves to go on a 7-1 run to pull within 9-8. The margin remained between two and three points before South Dakota pulled within one point at 17-16. However, Minnesota used a quick 5-0 spurt and closed out the first set 25-19.

The second set was nip and tuck throughout, even tied at 17-17, before the Gophers closed on an 8-5 run.

The third set saw the most ties and lead changes in the match with four ties and two lead changes before Minnesota pulled away near the end to close out the match.

“I don’t think there was any moment where we doubted ourselves,” said senior setter Madison Jurgens. “We stayed confident, we stayed true to ourselves, that’s a good team. They’re a good team. So I don’t think that we have anything to be upset about.”

Elizabeth Juhnke recorded her 17th double-double on the season with 12 kills and 10 digs for a South Dakota team that was held under .100 attack percentage for just the third time this season.

Maddie Wiedenfeld, one of five seniors playing the final match of their South Dakota careers, had nine kills and hit .412. Senior Sami Slaughter had four kills, as did Jurgens and Madison Harms.

Jurgens, a four-year starter, had 20 assists and eight digs, directing an offense that posted 35 kills, only one less than Minnesota’s 36.

Slaughter, Jurgens, Wiedenfeld along with Claire Gerdes (one assisted block) and Brooklyn Bollweg (seven digs), the five seniors, were part of three NCAA tournament appearances in four seasons and an unbeaten 16-0 Summit League regular season title that resulted in the best season in school history at 31-3.

“I think what we talked about in the locker room is that we belong, we belong here,” said Williamson. “Our program has improved a ton over the last few years.

“The senior class is leaving the program in a better spot than when it came. They’ve had a lot of success. We can all walk away feeling like we did give it our all, you know, when you’re playing a team like Minnesota and you are the underdog, the margins are really small and we weren’t able to capitalize in some of those situations.”

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.