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Sports & Rec

USD Volleyball Prepared For Another NCAA Tournament

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The Summit League
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USD
USD winning Summit League Tournament in 3-0 Sweep over Omaha

For the third time in four seasons, the University of South Dakota volleyball program has earned a bid to the NCAA Tournament. This past Saturday, the Coyotes won the Summit League tournament to earn an automatic spot in the big dance.

As the No. 2 seed going into the conference tournament event, USD had a first round bye. They played South Dakota State in the semifinal round, a match the Coyotes won in thrilling 3-2 fashion, and then swept Omaha 3-0 in the Summit League tournament championship match.

“I think when that final point was played, it was that reminder of this is why we do this, this is why you go through the hard days, and this is why we talk so much about trusting the process and understanding that there’s going to be positive and negatives,” USD head volleyball coach Leanne Williamson said. “There’s going to be the good wins and bad losses, and even at times good losses. It’s just one of those times where it’s like, this is the feeling we’re chasing every year.”

Last year, the DI college volleyball season was postponed from the fall to the spring. The spring Summit League tournament was played at the Sanford Pentagon. USD won it and advanced to the NCAA Tournament from there. For coach Williamson and her squad, it’s important to recognize what has all happened this past year on the journey to getting back to the big dance.

“I just go back to last season. With COVID, I know that there was a lot of talk about the NCAA Tournament not being the same, and it wasn’t. We were in a COVID year and it was very difficult, but we felt very good about the fact that it gave us a chance to play in the NCAA Tournament,” Williamson told. “With almost our entire roster back, all our starters back, I’m excited for them to have that true NCAA Tournament experience.”

USD will play No. 12 ranked Minnesota in the opening round of the national tourney. Former Coyotes head volleyball coach Matt Houk is currently on staff as an assistant to Hugh McCutcheon with the Gophers volleyball team. Williamson spent five-years as an assistant for Houk at USD prior to becoming the head coach of the program.

“I’ve known Matt [Houk] and his family for a long time. I played for his mom when I was 12, so I’ve obviously got to know his family over the years. I played for Matt for a year, I played against him when I was in college - he was at Green Bay when I was at Milwaukee. He gave me my start into coaching and got me to know Hugh [McCutcheon] a little bit over the year’s as well,” explained Williamson. “I just have a lot of respect for that coaching staff and what they do, and it’s definitely a cool component to be in the NCAA Tournament and now playing against a team with people that have given you so much.”

Friday night’s opening round match between Minnesota and South Dakota is scheduled to start at 7 pm CT. It’ll air live exclusively on ESPN+.