MACOMB, Ill. – The South Dakota volleyball team was in sync on Friday night to start the Summit League season with a four set win over Western Illinois (21-25, 25-19, 25-23, 25-21).
Kim Bulaga (Crystal Lake, IL) led a group of three Coyotes with double digit digs, while Kendall Kritenbrink (Gretna, NE) and Amber Aschoff (Ankeny, IA) led South Dakota (7-5, 1-0) offensively with 18 kills and 12 kills respectively.
"It was a real quality team effort," USD head coach Matt Houk. "We did a lot of little things well. Even in set one when we lost we battled back to grab momentum for game two.
"Individually, Kim had a really nice game. She came back from not playing the last few weeks and stepped into a new role as libero and recorded 15 digs to lead the team."
Outside of Bulaga's defensive work, Tori Kroll (Germantown, WI) recorded 13 digs and Riley Haug (Gretna, NE) added 10 digs to the defensive effort. Kroll also continued to set players up on the offensive end with 42 assists.
Kritenbrink recorded double digit kills for the eighth time in nine games she's played in this year. She's averaged 16.2 kills over the last five matches. Aschoff has reached double digit kills in 10 of South Dakota 12 matches.Natalie Walseth (Inver Grove Heights, MN) contributed both offensively and defensively with nine kills and five block assists.
The Coyotes led a couple of times in the first set with their biggest lead at five early on at 8-3. Western Illinois (5-6, 0-1) came back by scoring nine of the next 11 points to lead 12-10. The two sides tied five times before the Leathernecks went on a four-point run to open a 21-17 lead. The two sides traded points from then on to give Western Illinois the first set.
Set two was all South Dakota as the Coyotes never trailed and tied only at 4-4. Kritenbrink had six kills, two blocks and an ace in the set, while Walseth had three kills and a pair of blocks assists. After Western Illinois pulled with one at 11-10, the Coyotes used a 12-6 run to break away with the set.
Western Illinois couldn't hang on to leads in the final two sets. WIU led a majority of set three, but couldn't build on a 17-12 lead. South Dakota turned the tables on an 11-2 run to take a 23-19 lead, and although the Leathernecks fought back to tie at 23, the Coyotes scored the final two points to take a 2-1 set lead.
Again the Leathernecks lead for most of set four, but the Coyotes fought back from four points down to tie the set at 15. South Dakota then used four kills and four Western Illinois errors to spark a 10-6 run to end the match.