USD volleyball team rolls in home finale against Chicago State

With an homage playing on the videoboard, Kristin Kritenbrink stood tall and cracked a wide smile as she was honored on Senior Day.

As the only departing player on a young team, the annual ceremony lasted mere minutes.

Then came another dominating victory for the University of South Dakota volleyball team.

Propelled by 12 kills from Kritenbrink, the Coyotes made quick work of winless Chicago State on Friday night, scoring a 25-10, 25-14, 25-7 Great West Conference victory in the DakotaDome.

Though all 10 players on the roster saw action for USD (11-17, 7-3), it was Kritenbrink who led the way in the final home action of her career.

"It's bittersweet. I'm sad to leave; I've been doing this every day of my life for four years," she said later. "It'll be harder after the season; today is still kind of unreal.

"It's crazy to think this was my last game in the Dome."

With just one senior on a squad that has now won nine of its last 11 matches, the Coyotes – and the fans in attendance – were afforded a glance at the future.

"For the sake of the program, it's a fantastic thing," head coach Matt Houk said. "With how well we've adjusted and started playing with this young team in the second half of the season, it bodes extremely well for the future."

From the start against the visiting Cougars (0-30, 0-11), USD dominated the tempo.

Four players had at least two kills in the opening set, which saw the Coyotes run off eight straight points at one time – all with Kritenbrink serving.

The second set was much of the same, as USD again jumped out to a comfortable lead, this time 9-2. The Coyotes led 19-9 before Chicago State closed the gap a bit, with the final being 25-14.

In the third set, USD again had little trouble defensively against the Cougars, and again jumped ahead early. The cushion was 12-2 before Kritenbrink was taken out to a nice applause from the crowd.

From there, little-used reserves finished the job.

Taylor Russell recorded five kills in two sets she played, while Emily Olsen had one kill and two blocks, and mid-season addition Courtney Carmichael served well in her short stint.

"We got some kids into the match who haven't played much recently," Houk said. "Taylor came in and played phenomenal, and Emily got in and played really well. We need depth to have success. You never know if someone's going to get hurt, so it's important to have all 10 kids there for you."

The Coyotes were also able to tinker a bit with positioning, as Amber Aschoff spelled Kritenbrink at the left-side hitter position at times.

Junior Tahnee Reed added 11 kills in 13 swings, while freshman Tori Kroll posted 29 set assists. Defensively, Kritenbrink and Carol Logato had eight digs, while Aschoff and Olsen each added four digs.

With two regular season matches left before the postseason, USD has a chance to close on a high note – something Kritenbrink said has been the goal from day one.

"We work hard every single day in practice, and we were really focusing on the last part of the season, being at our best," she said. "The goals we set were a conference championship, and the team chemistry has gotten even stronger because we all want the same thing.

"I think that showed in the match."

The Coyotes are off until next Thursday when they begin a two-match road trip through Texas. They play Texas-Pan American on Thursday and are at Houston Baptist on Nov. 13.

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