After posting a 16-2 record in Summit League play and putting together the first 20-win season in the Division I era of the program, the Omaha volleyball team went into Vermillion this weekend hungry for more. After winning their first tournament match on Friday, the Summit League regular season champs went into Saturday’s championship match looking to win the first conference tournament and clinch the first NCAA Tournament berth in program history.
However, the Mavericks’ run ultimately fell short. Omaha was swept by South Dakota in that championship match, 3-0. The Coyotes, who also put together a 20-win campaign this season, came into the weekend right behind Omaha as the No. 2 seed. The two teams split their regular-season meetings in what were two very tightly played matches.
Saturday was no different, as the first two sets went down to the wire and the Coyotes pulled away late in the third to complete the sweep and punch their ticket to the NCAA Tournament. South Dakota took the three sets 25-23, 30-28 and 25-16 respectively.
The Mavericks started strong, as they led in each of the first two sets and played well for most of the afternoon. Omaha was up 18-12 at one point but the Coyotes kept fighting back. South Dakota scored six of the final seven points in the set to jump ahead 1-0. The Mavericks also held a 24-22 lead late in the second set, which the Coyotes erased.
The end of that second set, though, seemed to be the knockout blow and sealed the deal for Omaha. With the Mavericks trailing 29-28, a South Dakota ball was originally ruled out by the line judge, which would’ve tied it at 29. However, that out call was overturned, and the Coyotes took the second set 30-28.
The Mavericks were never able to recover from that point on, and with momentum heavily on their side, the Coyotes cruised in the third and final set. South Dakota led by 10 for part of the set and ended up winning by nine.
This weekend was the Mavericks’ third conference tournament appearance in the Division I era of the program and their first as a No. 1 seed. With the loss, Omaha became the fourth consecutive regular-season champion to fall in the Summit League Tournament. They’ll look to claim that spot once again next fall but will hopefully snap that streak at four.