UND Sioux top USD Coyotes in five

The fact that yet another match went five sets was a feat in itself, considering the opponent.

Yet, that was no consolation for the South Dakota volleyball team.

North Dakota, one of the nation's hottest teams with a Division I RPI of 65, won its 12th straight match 25-21, 24-26, 25-15, 23-25, 15-11 Tuesday night at the DakotaDome.

"It's frustrating that we keep letting it get to five, but when you're playing a team like North Dakota, you can't be too upset," said USD senior Tahnee Reed, who recorded 14 kills with no errors.

"We just need to be more consistent so we're not letting that happen."

The Coyotes (13-15), playing its seventh straight 5-set match, found a late spark in four of the five sets – highlighted by two dramatic comebacks for wins.

It was the first non-conference match between the two former league rivals, as North Dakota is still a member of the Great West and USD is in year one of Summit League play. The two teams are scheduled to play again early next season in Grand Forks, ND.

"It's always big when we play them," Reed said.

It was an early hole in the fifth and deciding set that proved to be too much for USD.

"That was the definition of back and forth," coach Matt Houk said. "We were good for a while and made them look bad, and they made us look bad other times.

"We're happy with the performance, just not the result."

The Coyotes have now lost five of the seven 5-set matches over the last three weeks, a trend that exposes USD's tendency to play stronger near the end of sets.

"We need to work on playing better right ouf the gate," Reed said. "It's good that we rally like that, but good teams like North Dakota only let you do that so many times."

Though they lost the opening set, the Coyotes did not allow UND to completely control the tempo.

There were 15 ties and five lead changes, the latest when the Sioux pulled in front 20-19 on a kill by Ronni Munkeby.

"That was an excellent game; so enjoyable to be a part of," Houk said of set one. "That's what D-I volleyball is all about, teams getting kills and playing good defense."

The bigger lead change, though, came in the second set when the Coyotes rallied from a 14-21 deficit.

USD tied the set at 23 on a kill by Kendall Kritenbrink and the Sioux knotted it at 24 on a block. Yet, a kill by Amber Aschoff and an attack error on UND gave the Coyotes the win.

Just as quickly, that momentum shifted sides in the third set.

North Dakota hit .343 in the game and limited USD to .069, with seven kills and five attack errors.

"Good teams like that expose your weaknesses," Houk said.

Just as in the second set, the Coyotes rallied from a large deficit in the fourth set – this time 13-19.

A block by Natalie Walseth tied the game at 21 and a kill by Reed ended the set.

North Dakota controlled the fifth set, pulling ahead 12-5 before the Coyotes came alive with another late surge.

"The biggest thing for us is just being more consistent," Reed said. "That's something we're always working on and coach is always talking about, not having huge letdowns right away."

Kritenbrink led USD with 22 kills, while Walseth added 11. Tori Kroll recorded 47 set assists and Riley Haug led the defense with 27 digs.

The Coyotes stay at home for a Friday night Summit League match against Oakland at 7 p.m. The Golden Grizzlies, 8-6 in conference play, upended USD 3-1 three weeks ago.

Reed will be the only senior to be recognized on Senior Night, and she also marks the first player in Houk's USD tenure to play all four years with him.

"It'll definitely be special for all of us, just because it's Senior Night and it's a Summit League match we really need," Houk said. "Hopefully we can come out stronger and get the win."

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