Coyotes fall to N.D. in Great West Championship

CHICAGO — The South Dakota volleyball team won the first set, but North Dakota won the next three to record a 11-25, 25-14, 25-15, 25-20 win over the Coyotes in the Great West Conference Championship final Sunday in Chicago.

The Coyotes finished as the tournament runner-up and concluded the season at 14-19.

Senior Kristin Kritenbrink (Gretna, Neb.) and freshman Natalie Walseth (Inver Grove Heights, Minn.) were each named to the all-tournament team for the Coyotes. Kritenbrink had 16 kills in Sunday's match to pace the Coyotes, while freshman Tori Kroll (Germantown, Wis.) had 25 set assists and five kills. Junior Carol Logato (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) had a match-high 22 digs.  Walseth finished the tournament with 20 kills and seven blocks.

The Coyotes dominated the first set. They stormed out to a 6-0 lead and never led by less than four the rest of the way. South Dakota scored the final five points of the set, as freshman Emily Olsen (Council Bluffs, Iowa) recorded a kill and a block during that stretch. In the first set, South Dakota hit .214, compared to -.034 for North Dakota.

That changed in the second set, as North Dakota jumped out to an 8-4 lead. The Coyotes cut the lead to 9-7 on a service ace by sophomore Kim Bulaga (Crystal Lake, Ill.). North Dakota pulled away from there, pushing the lead to 19-12 and recording a 25-14 win.In the third set, the Coyotes were down 10-7 but came back with three straight points – two on kills by Kroll – to tie the set at 10-10. The Coyotes kept things close and were within 16-15 after a kill by Olsen, but North Dakota rattled off a 9-0 run to close out a 25-16 win.South Dakota looked to grab the momentum back in the fourth set but faced an 11-4 deficit early. The Coyotes closed the gap to 24-20 after a North Dakota attack error but got no closer and fell 25-20.

Junior Tahnee Reed (Pierce, Neb.) finished with four block assists and four kills for South Dakota while Olsen had four kills. Sophomore Taylor Russell (Council Bluffs, Iowa) added three kills and three block assists.

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