Summit League names Juhnke Player of the Year, Weiderman Defensive Player of the Year

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VERMILLION, SD — The University of South Dakota’s Elizabeth Juhnke is the Summit League’s Player of the Year.

The Coyotes’ Lolo Weideman was named Defensive Player of the Year and Leanne Williamson was named Coach of the Year when the conference announced their year-end awards on Wednesday.

USD middle blocker Madison Harms joined Juhnke and Weideman on the 12-man all-summit team.

“I am so proud of this group of young women who have been recognized as some of the Summit League’s best players,” Williamson said. “Elizabeth, Lolo and Madison have done so much for our team this year and I am so thrilled that they have been recognized for their talent.”

Juhnke broke multiple program and league records and set the mark for most kills in a match this season with 39 kills against NDSU on September 27. She has been named Offensive Player of the Week eight times this season and has also received two Sportsperson of the Month awards. She led the league and nation in kills and kills per set through the season.

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“Elizabeth has had an excellent season. Her ability to play the whole game at a high level is remarkable,” said Williamson. “Most people have seen her ability to score, which is impressive because she’s efficient with the amount of off-system swings she’s executing. She’s worked hard to improve on both defense and serve and it’s shown throughout the conference season.

Weideman’s 4.65 breakouts per set led the league through the season and helped USD have the most breakouts in the league. On September 24, she recorded a career-high 34 wins in the Coyotes’ 3-1 win over Denver. The Center Point, Iowa, native is part of a roster that averaged a league-best 16 digs per set.

“Lolo had a great season at Libero. She’s worked so hard throughout her career to be the best version of herself,” Williamson said. “She has consistently worked to learn more about the game, which has shown in her ability to cover a lot of space on defence. She flies so comfortably across the pitch to give our team more transition opportunities, which a had a huge impact on our program.

Harms, who is from Sergeant Bluff, was named to the All-Summit League team for the third time in her career. She recently recorded her 500th career block and holds the USD program records in the Rally Scoring era for assisted blocks, solo blocks and total blocks. She became only the second Coyote in program history to reach 500 blocks, averaging 1.24 blocks throughout the season.

“Madison has done a great job influencing the game in so many ways. Their blocking presence at net was a big factor for us defensively,” Williamson said. “She has the ability to cover a lot of ground and makes hitters think when she’s in front of them.”

Williamson was named Summit League Coach of the Year for a third time after guiding USD to their third regular-season title. In her ninth year at the helm, Williamson led her side to a 27-3 aggregate record and a 16-2 conference record. South Dakota has earned a berth in an NCAA tournament three times in the past four years under Williamson’s leadership.

The USD enters the Summit League tournament this week in Omaha as the No. 1. The Coyotes earned a bye in the first round and will play their first game of the tournament against the winner of game #4 Denver vs. #5 South Dakota State on Friday at 4:00 p.m.

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