South Dakota State returns to The Summit League Tournament this weekend for the first time since the Jackrabbits took home the crown in 2007, for the first time in the Nanabah Allison-Brewer and they go to the tournament riding an eight-match Summit League winning steak.
The Jacks enter the tournament as the No. 4 seed and face the defending tournament champion and No. 1 seed IPFW Mastodons in the first semifinal match on Friday at 5 p.m., with the winner advancing to take on the winner of the second semifinal match between No. 2 North Dakota State and No. 3 Southern Utah.
SDSU opened the second half of the league schedule against IPFW and lost the match in five sets, marking the Jacks only loss of the second half of the conference schedule.
The host Bison fell in last year's tournament to IPFW in the championship match, while Southern Utah heads to the tournament for the first time in just the second year in the programs history in The Summit League.
All-Summit League second team selection Ellyce Youngren led the Jackrabbit offense in the regular season with 354 kills and with 35 service aces. Summit League Player of the Year Kelli Fiegen finished second on the team with 348 kills, but led all hitters with a .390 hitting percentage, and easily led the team and with 137 total blocks, 42 solo and 95 block assists. Thyele Rechatiko handles the setting duties for the Jackrabbits and led the Jacks in the regular season with 17 double-doubles, including four of the last five matches. Libero Shay Birath, a two-time Summit League Defensive Player of the Week, led the Jackrabbit defense with 541 digs.
FIEGEN NAMED PLAYER OF THE YEAR, YOUNGREN EARNS ALL-LEAGUE - Summit League head coaches voted South Dakota State sophomore Kelli Fiegen its Player of the Year of the 2010 season after the middle hitter led the league in two statistical categories and ranked in the top five in another in league play.
Along with Fiegen's honor, Jackrabbit junior Ellyce Youngren earned an all-Summit League second team selection for her efforts during the season.
Fiegen tied for a league-high two Offensive Player of the Week honors, ranked first in hitting percentage in league play with a .416 hitting percentage and with 1.24 blocks per set and ranked fourth with 3.38 kills per set.
Overall on the season, Fiegen led the Jackrabbits with a .390 hitting percentage, which ranked second in the league and 21st in the nation, with 1.21 blocks per set, also a league best, and with 3.08 kills per set, good for fifth in the league.
Youngren led the Jackrabbits with 354 kills and with 35 service aces, and ranked second on the team with 11 double-doubles.
FIEGEN BREAKS FIVE SET RECORD - Middle blocker Kelli Fiegen broke the Jackrabbit record for hitting percentage in a five set match on Oct. 8, with 17 kills in 27 swings with just one error for an astounding .593 hitting percentage and led the Jacks to a 3-2 over Western Illinois in the process. Fiegen broke the old mark of .550 (12-1-20) set by Kim Bostrom vs. Harding (Ark.), on Aug. 31, 2002.
FIEGEN NAMED OCTOBER ATHLETE OF THE MONTH - The Summit League named South Dakota State middle blocker Kelli Fiegen its October Women's Athlete of the Month on Nov. 10, after the Parkston native led the Jackrabbits to a 7-3 league record during the month of October.
The sophomore posted 145 kills, for a 3.30 kills per set average, with only 27 errors for a .418 hitting percentage. She hit at least .300 in 10-of-11 matches, hitting over .400 in six matches and over .500 in three, including an SDSU five-set record in a win over Western Illinois on Oct. 8, when she hit .593 (17-1-27) and the second-best mark in a five set match when she hit .581 (19-1-31) against South Dakota.
Fiegen also averaged 1.05 blocks per set and collected 14 digs. In league matches, she sits atop The Summit League in hitting percentage and blocks and ranks fourth in kills per set for the year.
RABBITS ON THE RADIO - All Jackrabbit volleyball matches at this weekend's Summit League Championships can be heard live on KJJQ 910 A.M., with Kolbe Nelson doing the play-by-play. The pre-game show begins approximately 20 minutes before first serve.
THE JACKRABBIT EXTRA ON GoJacks.com - Subscribers to the Jackrabbit Extra on GoJacks.com can listen to all SDSU home volleyball matches and can watch every home match streaming live on the internet.
To subscribe to the Jackrabbit Extra, log onto GoJacks.com, select Jackrabbit Extra on the Audio/Video tab and click on "sign up"
JOIN THE LIVE CHAT AT THE TOURNAMENT - In addition to listening to the tournament matches on the radio or Jackrabbit Extra, volleyball fans can join assistant sports information director Ryan Sweeter as he conducts a live chat from this weekend's Summit League Tournament matches.
To join the conversation, log onto GoJacks.com and click on the Summit League Volleyball Tournament "Live Chat" button on the right side of the page.
LIVE VIDEO FEED AVAILABLE FOR TOURNAMENT MATCHES - Fans interested in watching any or all three Summit League Tournament matches can purchase the event on GoBison.com with a premium subscription to NDSU All Access or by pay-per-view at a cost of $4.95 per match.
THE JACKRABBIT INSIDER ON FOX - Fans of South Dakota State Athletics can get a weekly behind-the-scenes look at all 21 Jackrabbit varsity sports teams by tuning into "The Jackrabbit Insider."
Hosted by Tyler Merriam, the show airs on Sundays on KTTW FOX 17 at 10:30 p.m., and can also be seen on Fox Sports North at 6 p.m. on Tuesdays.
THIS WEEK'S COMPETITION
IPFW Mastodons (20-10, 14-4 Summit) - The only team to sweep the Jackrabbit this season, IPFW enters the tournament on a losing note after falling at Southern Utah, 3-0, in the regular season finale last weekend in Cedar City, Utah. Despite the loss, the defending tournament champions secured the No. 1 seed with a five set win at UMKC two nights earlier on Nov. 11.
Maya Schlingwein led the IPFW offense in the regular season with 404 kills, and added 262 digs and 84 total blocks, and a team-high 33 service aces, all of which garnered her an all-Summit League first team selection. Stephanie Lamberti earned a second team selection after posting 299 kills, 304 digs, 32 blocks and 30 aces during the regular season
Summit League Setter of the year Megan Steenhuyseen set up her teammates powerful attack with 1,133 set assists and did her part in the back row with 273 digs.
The Series vs. IPFW - The Mastodons lead the all-time series 10-3, including a 3-0 win this season in Brookings on Oct. 2, and a 3-2 win in Fort Wayne, Ind., on Oct. 15. The last SDSU win in the series came on Nov. 17, 2007, when the Jacks downed the 'Dons 3-2 in The Summit League Tournament championship match.
North Dakota State Bison (18-10, 14-4 Summit) - The defending regular season champs, NDSU fell in the title game last year, and hosts the tournament for the second straight year, this time as the No. 2 seed after a back-and-forth battle atop the standings with IPFW, the same team that downed the Bison last year for the league's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
Despite a mid-season coaching change, the Bison still enter the tournament winners of seven of their last eight matches, with the only blemish in that stretch coming at the hands of the Jackrabbits on Nov. 6.
First team all-league selection Chrissy Knuth led a well-balanced NDSU offense through the regular season with 288 kills and 82 total blocks and added 135 digs and 11 service aces. Fellow first teamer Megan Lambertson added 246 kills and 81 total blocks. Second team selection Brynn Joki finished second on the team with 284 kills but added 290 digs and an impressive 63 service aces. She did finish the regular season with 81 service errors.
The Bison's Jordan Kissman took home Freshman of the Year honors after leading NDSU with 679 set assists in the regular season, with 170 digs and 34 total blocks.
The Series vs. NDSU - The Bison lead the all-time series 63-18 after splitting the season series with each team winning on its home floor. NDSU downed the Jacks 3-0 on Sept. 18 in Fargo, N.D., while the Jacks won 3-1 in Frost Arena on Nov. 6.
Southern Utah Thunderbirds (14-14, 12-6 Summit) - Picked to finish eighth in the preseason poll, and in just their second season competing in The Summit League, the Thunderbirds enter the tournament with a No. 3 seed after downing top-seeded IPFW 3-0 in their final match of the regular season last weekend in Cedar City, Utah.
All-Summit League first-team honoree Analaine Pelaez led the T-birds to the postseason with a team-high 452 kills and a team-high 361 digs in the regular season. She also added 17 service aces and 47 total blocks. Second team selection Brittney Clark helped her teammate out with 1,083 set asst and pitched in with 110 digs and 23 service aces.
The Series vs. Southern Utah - The Jackrabbits lead the all-time series 3-1 after splitting the season series in 2010. Down 2-0 on Sept. 11, in Brookings, the Jacks battled back to force a fifth set, but eventually lost the match 3-2. The Jacks returned the favor on Oct. 28, with a 3-2 win in Cedar City, Utah.
NEXT UP FOR THE JACKRABBITS - The Jacks need two wins at this weekend's tournament to earn The Summit League's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. Any loss marks the end of the season.