South Dakota State returns home to Frost Arena this week, where the Jackrabbits play six of their final nine matches of the season, starting with Oakland on Friday, when the Jackrabbits 'dig pink' to raise money and awareness for breast cancer, and then close the weekend against the defending regular season champions from IPFW. Both matches begin at 7 p.m.
Playing at home bodes well for the Jacks, who need wins to remain in the hunt for one of the four spots in The Summit League Tournament. Those tournament hopes took a hit last week, with a pair of 3-0 losses on the road at Western Illinois and IUPUI.
Shay Birath set an SDSU 3-set record with 32 digs on Friday at Western, but the Jackrabbits struggled on offense in the straight set loss to the Fighting Leathernecks.
The Jacks closed out the winless weekend on Saturday with a 3-0 loss to IUPUI, which gives the Jaguars a one game lead over the Jacks in the league standings entering play this weekend. Birath recorded 20 digs in the loss at IUPUI, which, combined with the record-setting performance on Friday, earned her the league's defensive player of the week award.
Kelli Fiegen leads the Jacks through 24 matches with 283 kills, with a .342 hitting percentage (283-72-617) and with 84 total blocks. Kaitlin Klingemann ranks second on the team with 210 kills and adds 44 blocks. Ellyce Youngren enters the weekend with 170 kills, 128 digs and ranks second on the team with 51 blocks.
Birath leads the defense with 444 digs, while Lexi Fowler leads the way with 823 set assists. Fowler also adds 180 digs, and leads the team with seven double-doubles.
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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.
BIRATH NAMED DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK - Shay Birath captured her third career defensive player of the week honor on Sept. 19, after posting two double-digit dig matches on the weekend. She added her fourth career defensive player of the week honor on Oct. 17, after setting and SDSU 3-set record with 32 digs at Western Illinois and adding a 20 dig performance at IUPUI.
BIRATH and FIEGEN NAMED TO ALL-TOURNAMENT TEAM - Juniors Shay Birath and Kelli Fiegen both earned all-tournament team honors after leading the Jacks to a 3-1 record at the season-opening SpringHill Suites Invitational hosted by Georgia Southern. Birath led the Jacks with 81 digs and added four services aces, while Fiegen led SDSU with 54 kills, a .357 hitting percentage and 10 total blocks.
KLINGEMANN and FIEGEN NAMED TO ALL-TOURNAMENT TEAM - Juniors Kaitlin Klingemann and Kelli Fiegen both earned all-tournament team honors after leading the Jacks to a 2-1 record at the Jayhawk Invitational hosted by Kansas. Klingemann recorded 21 kills nine digs and six block assists in the three matches, while Fiegen led the Jacks with 34 kills, a .368 hitting percentage and 13 total blocks.
FIEGEN NAMED TO ALL-TOURNAMENT TEAM - Kelli Fiegen posted 57 kills, including a career-high 22 against Arkansas State, over the weekend at the Dr. Mary Jo Wynn Invitational hosted by Missouri State and added 16 total blocks, six solo and 10 block assists, all of which earned her all-tournament team honors for the third weekend in a row.
FIEGEN SWINGS HERSELF TO 4-SET RECORD - Kelli Fiegen led SDSU with 17 kills in the Jacks 3-1 win over Belmont on Sept. 3, and set a new SDSU 4-set hitting percentage record in the process with 17 kills and no errors in 22 swings, good for a .773 attack percentage. Fiegen breaks the mark of .667 (13-1-18) set by Emily Rooney at Sam Houston State on Sept. 1, 2007.
BIRATH SETS 3-SET DIGS RECORD - Shay Birath led the Jackrabbits with 32 digs in the Jacks 3-0 loss at Western Illinois on Oct. 14, but those 32 digs mark a new 3-set record, topping the old record of 28, set by Samantha Pearson vs. Louisiana-Lafayette on Oct. 31, 2007.
YOUNGREN JOINS THE 1,000-Kills CLUB - Jackrabbit senior Ellyce Youngren entered the 2011 season with 903 career kills, 97 shy of becoming the 14th member of the SDSU 1,000-Kills Club. Her smash down the right line in the Jacks 3-2 win over IUPUI on Sept. 16, not only gave the Jacks the third-set win, but it gave her exactly 1,000 kills for her career. She enters this weekend with 1,066 kills, 71 shy of passing Lisa Freichels (1,137 kills from 1989-93) for 13th all-time at SDSU
FIEGEN CHASING 1,000 KILL MILESTONE - Kelli Fiegen would need to top her season-best mark of 352 kills, set in 2010, by five kills to reach the 1,000 kill milestone, but if the defending Summit League Player of the Year can record 95 more kills this season, she would not only become the 15th member of the 1,000-Kills Club, but also become the sixth member to reach the mark as a junior.
BIRATH JOINS THE 1,000-DIGS CLUB - Shay Birath took over the starting libero spot as a sophomore in 2010 and led the team with 556 digs, which boosted her career total to 712 and left her 288 digs shy of becoming the 13th member of the SDSU 1,000-Digs Club, and just the fifth member of the club to reach the milestone as a junior. Birath joined the club on Sept. 24, at Oakland, and enters the weekend with 1,104 career digs, good for 11th all-time at SDSU.
THIS WEEK'S COMPETITION
Oakland Golden Grizzlies (11-9, 5-5 Summit) - Oakland comes to Brookings riding its third two match losing streak of the season, but the Golden Grizzlies hope to snap that skid at two, just like they did with the previous streaks. The most recent two-match streak came with losses at IUPUI and at home against IPFW.
Meghan Bray leads the Oakland attack with 260 kills and with 13 service aces. She also ranks second on the team with 220 digs and adds 24 block assists. Allison Bell ranks second on the team with 193 kills and third on the team with 50 total blocks, while Brittany Holbrook ranks third with 169 kills to go along with her team-high 62 blocks. Alli Kirk leads the defense with 383 digs, while Alissa Valentine does the majority of the setting, with 505 set assists on the season. Ashley Nevelle enters the weekend with 258 set assists on the season.
The Series vs. Oakland - The Jackrabbits lead the all-time series 6-3 after dropping the first meeting of the season. SDSU swept the season series in 2010, while both Oakland wins in the series came in 2009, when they swept the Jacks with a 3-2 win in Rochester, Mich., and a 3-0 win at Frost Arena.
The First Meeting, Sept, 24; Rochester, Mich. - Shay Birath needed 16 digs in the first meeting of the season against Oakland to become the 13th member of the SDSU 1,000-Digs Club, and while she reached the milestone, she did so in a 3-0 loss.
Birath, who also became just the fifth junior to reach the 1,000-dig milestone, finished with 18 digs in the loss to lead the Jacks. Kaitlin Klingemann and Kelli Fiegen tied for team-high honors with six kills each. Fiegen added a pair of block assists and Klingemann a service ace.
Jenna Lange and Meghan Bray tied for match-high honors with 11 kills each. Taylor Humm added 10 kills in the win. Both Bray and Humm added 12 digs to complete double-doubles.
IPFW Mastodons (15-6, 8-2 Summit) - The defending regular season champion Mastodons, who play at North Dakota State on Friday, enter the weekend with wins in nine of their last 10 matches and riding a six match winning streak. The only two flaws on IPFW's Summit League record came at home against Oakland and on the road at league-leading Oral Roberts.
Emily Spencer leads the IPFW offense with 329 kills through 21 matches and ranks second on the team with 241 digs. Spencer ranks fourth on the team in total blocks, but leads the 'Dons with 23 solo blocks. Jessie Manwaring ranks second on the team with 207 kills with a team-high .230 hitting percentage and adds 59 blocks. Megan Wiler leads the team with 79 total blocks and adds 130 kills. Tessa McGill leads IPFW with 442 digs, while Megan Steenhuysen handles the setting duties and enters the weekend with 895 on the season.
The Series vs. IPFW - The Mastodons lead the all-time series 12-3, with wins in each of the last eight meetings, including the 2010 Summit League Tournament semifinals.
The last Jackrabbit win in the series came on Nov. 17, 2007, when the Jacks defeated the 'Dons 3-2 in The Summit League Tournament championship to advance to the NCAA Tournament.
The First Meeting, Sept, 23; Fort Wayne, Ind. -SDSU took a three-game Summit League winning streak with them to IPFW on Sept. 23, but the Mastodons snapped the streak with a 3-0 sweep, winning by the set scores of 25-22, 25-20 and 25-22.
Kelli Fiegen led the Jackrabbits with eight kills in the loss and added a trio of digs and block assists. Kaitlin Klingemann, Bailey Philippot and Ellyce Youngren all pitched in with seven kills. Kelly Herrmann led the Jacks with 15 digs, while Shay Birath finished with eight.
Megan Wiler led the Mastodons with 13 kills in the win. Emily Spencer and Jessie Manwaring both finished with 11 kills. Spencer added 10 digs to complete the double-double.
NEXT UP FOR THE JACKRABBITS - The Jackrabbits hit the road for a match at North Dakota State on Saturday, before returning home to host North Dakota on Halloween at Frost Arena. Both matches begin at 7 p.m.