By Jeremy Hoeck
In the 30 minutes between walking off the court and emerging from the makeshift locker room, the University of South Dakota volleyball team held an intense, wide-ranging impromptu meeting.
Some things needed to get squared away following a seventh loss in eight matches.
The second place-team in the Summit League, IUPUI, continued the frustration for the Coyotes by winning 25-12, 20-25, 25-17, 25-21 on Friday at the DakotaDome.
In all, there were 25 attack errors, eight service errors and many other sources of concern for USD (8-12, 2-6).
"At this level in college athletics, you absolutely need to play tough and motivated every single time," head coach Matt Houk said after the extended post-match chat.
"That's what we talked about, that we're repeating things that create failure, not success."
Dropping to 0-4 at their new "Den" on the second level of the dome, the Coyotes had their sixth straight match with a sub-.200 attack percentage (at .126). The first set Friday was even worse, at negative-.027, allowing the Jaguars to roll.
The Coyotes — mirroring their season to this point — responded by a strong second set, hitting .366 and taking the Jaguars out of system.
If only USD could duplicate that effort every time, according to senior setter Bailey Lupardus, who was thrust into the setting role and recorded 32 assists.
"I definitely feel we'll be a better team next time," Lupardus said. "We'll change what we need to change, and get better."
IUPUI (14-7, 7-2) went back to their balanced offensive ways in the third set, recording 22 kills and just four errors in a 25-17 victory.
The Jaguars continued that momentum into set four, jumping in front 21-12. The Coyotes, however, made a furious comeback and got within 21-23. Following a timeout, a USD serve went long and the match was soon over.
"In black and white stats, we had way too many errors in games one and four," Houk said. "But it comes down to so much more than that.
"The bigger thing you can't quantify is that we really lacked toughness," he added. "We were very uninspired after a really nice game two."
Senior Kim Bulaga led the Coyotes with 10 kills, while sophomore Kendall Kritenbrink added nine and junior Tori Kroll — moved from setter to hitter — had eight kills.
"She can really play about anywhere, plus it's nice to have another hitter," Lupardus said of Kroll. "I definitely don't mind it; I love being out there to help out."
She and her teammates will get another chance Sunday when the Coyotes host Western Illinois (8-11, 2-6) at 2 p.m.
"Western is tough. They don't have the best record, but they've beaten North Dakota State and Oakland," Houk said. "They have two players we really have to worry about, but we're more worried about ourselves right now."