Sioux Falls native Sydni Schetnan excited to join South Dakota State volleyball
Former Washington Warrior two-sport standout coming home after stint at Louisville
BROOKINGS — One of the best prep athletes in recent South Dakota history is coming home.
Sydni Schetnan, a two-sport star at Washington High School who took her talents to the University of Louisville to play both basketball and volleyball, has transferred to South Dakota State to play volleyball for the Jackrabbits.
In two years with the Cardinals, all Schetnan did was go to the national championship in volleyball and the Final Four in basketball, though she saw limited playing time for both teams. With that in mind, she's coming to Brookings in hopes of taking a burgeoning program to Division I heights it has never experienced.
"I just didn't see myself having a successful future (at Louisville), and I wanted to really make a difference on a team," Schetnan said. "I thought going to a different place could help me fulfill that. Coming to SDSU, I can help them bring their program to another level."
It qualifies as a tremendous get for SDSU, and gives the 6-foot-5 Schetnan a chance to hit reset on her career for an up-and-coming program that desperately needed a big hitter as well as a big name.
"For us to get a Power Five transfer like Sydni shows the growth we've had in our program and the type of recruit we're now able to attract," said Jacks coach Dan Georgalas, who has led the Jacks to back-to-back winning seasons, their first since 2012. "To have another in-state kid to build our program around is important. It gets everyone excited about Jackrabbit volleyball."
Indeed, the news of Schetnan's decision was announced while the SDSU football team was in Frisco, Tex., for the FCS national championship. With all of Jackrabbit Nation basking in that historic event, Schetnan's news still managed to make a seismic impact in her home state. She had a legendary career for the Warriors and was making history by competing in both sports in the ACC. When former O'Gorman star Raegan Reilly transferred to SDSU from North Dakota State a year ago, that was a major moment for Jackrabbit volleyball. Pairing Schetnan with her and the rest of SDSU's markedly improved roster creates an entirely new buzz around the program.
Schetnan isn't just a big name, though. She's an immediate impact player. The outside hitter is Washington's all-time leader in blocks, and made five appearances for Louisville as a freshman. The Cardinals went 31-3 and lost to Texas in the national championship match.
"The exciting part for us is Sydni fit a need for us," Georgalas said. "Her size and physicality at the net — that's been one of our weaknesses. We've competed really well but we've always been a smaller team in our league. For us to take that next step has been a goal, and to do that we needed to get bigger and more athletic. She certainly checks those boxes off. She'll be an immediate presence for us."
Schetnan's cousin, Ellie Benson, played volleyball for SDSU. Ellie's parents, JoElle and Chuck, are also former standout Jackrabbits. The family connections were there, and Sydni said playing where her grandparents can come and watch her play was important to her.
Still, leaving one of the country's prominent athletic programs wasn't easy.
"It's been an awesome experience," Schetnan said. "My mom liked to brag that I'm the only athlete that's ever been to the Final Four in two sports. That was pretty awesome. It was hard to leave with the connections I made there. I'm hoping I made the right decision. It's hard to know this early, but I'm having a lot of fun in Brookings so far."
The obvious question that Schetnan admits she gets asked almost daily is if there's any chance she'll play basketball for the Jacks. That sounds unlikely, but she didn't rule it out. Schetnan appeared in 10 games for the Cardinals basketball team last year but none this season before transferring.
"I felt like if I really want to excel at a sport I can't play two," Schetnan said. "I wouldn't be able to make strides without having an offseason. So that was kind of a factor in choosing to play just one sport here at SDSU.
"(Basketball coach Aaron Johnston) has reached out to me once already, so he's interested," added Schetnan, who averaged 16.1 points, 9.2 rebounds and 4.5 blocks to lead Washington to the 2021 Class AA state title. "I haven't talked to him yet. You never know. I just know it'd be super tough, and I just want to excel at a sport right now. If I feel like I can hop on the basketball court again, I might do it but at this point, I'm sticking with volleyball."
That's good news for Georgalas and his team. Schetnan will have three years of eligibility, and her championship pedigree is something the coach hopes rubs off on his returning players. That's a goal of Schetnan's, too.
"It's one of the top reasons I wanted to come here," she said. "I can be that person to really help this program get where Dan wants it to be. I feel like the experience I have can help the players on this team."