BROOKINGS — South Dakota competed without a big puzzle piece but got a season-high 20 kills from Sami Slaughter and 12 more from freshman Mattie Johnson to gut out a 3-1 win against rival South Dakota State Sunday inside Frost Arena. Scores went 21-25, 25-23, 25-22 and 25-20.
It was the 10th consecutive win for South Dakota (7-4, 6-1 Summit) against the Jacks (2-8, 2-7), and USD improved to 19-2 against its rivals in the Division I era. The win cuts South Dakota State’s edge in this year’s Showdown Series to 4-3. The rematch is Sunday at 7 p.m.
South Dakota outside hitter Elizabeth Juhnke, the Summit League’s kills leader, was unavailable for the first time this season and it took almost two sets for the Coyotes to adjust. After dropping the first set, USD found itself trailing 11-3 and then 20-15 in set two. But the Coyotes rallied behind an assortment of contributors and got back-to-back kills from Aimee Adams and Johnson to earn a 25-23 set two win. Six different Coyotes earned a kill during the set.
“It’s always great when you can grit out a win against your rival,” said USD head coach Leanne Williamson. “We were really sloppy in the first set and the beginning of the second, but I love how we fought back and really got in a groove.”
Johnson played in the front row for the first time all season and truly delivered. Her 12 kills came on 24 swings with just two errors for a .417 attack percentage. The Coyotes hit better than .333 in sets three and four after failing to top .150 in the first two.
“Mattie was huge for us off the bench,” said Williamson. “She took some clutch swings in really big moments and had success.”
Set three was back-and-forth. State led 6-2, but USD quickly tied it at 7-7. Back-to-back kills by Slaughter sparked a mini 4-0 run that gave USD a 19-16 edge and that turned out to be the difference. Slaughter had seven kills in the third set and came back with six more on 12 swings with no errors in the fourth.
“Sami got better as the match went on and was fearless in some tough situations when we were out of system,” said Williamson.
South Dakota scored the first six points of set four, but State rallied to tie the set at 7-7. It was 16-all when middle blocker Madison Harms notched one of her six kills. Maddie Wiedenfeld followed suit on the next point and the Coyotes outscored the Jacks 9-4 to close out the match.
Wiedenfeld totaled nine kills on 23 attacks and hit .304. Harms posted seven blocks including two solo. Defensively, USD got 27 digs from Lolo Weideman, 14 from Aimee Adams to go with six kills, and 12 from setter Madison Jurgens.
Jurgens became the sixth player in program history to reach 3,000 assists. She had 48 Sunday and stands with 3,037 in two-plus seasons.
“Rivalry games are not always clean, but we got a great team win,” said Williamson. “We are looking forward to making some changes and working to get better tomorrow.”
South Dakota State got 15 kills and a .195 hitting percentage from Crystal Burk. Tori Thompson had 10 kills on 18 swings with two errors. Tatum Pickar had a match-high 32 digs and three of the Jacks’ seven aces. Brooklyn Bollweg had three of South Dakota’s six aces.