NCAA VOLLEYBALL: Mustangs defeated twice on Day 2 of Classic

After opening the season with back-to-back wins, the No. 6 Southwest Minnesota State University volleyball team suffered a pair of losses at the Grand Valley State Classic on Saturday in Allendale, Mich.

The Mustangs opened the second day of competition against Wayne State (Mich.), falling in five sets (22-25, 23-25, 25-21, 25-19, 13-15). It was the first loss to a non-ranked American Volleyball Coaches Assocation Division II opponent since September 2009.

SMSU was then defeated by host Grand Valley State 3-1 (12-25, 25-21, 26-24, 25-20), dropping to 2-2 on the season.

“We ran into two very good volleyball teams,” Mustangs head coach Terry Culhane said. “They showed us that we have areas that we need to improve before we go to The Premier Challenge in Denver next weekend.”

The Mustangs committed a total of 21 hitting errors throughout the first two sets against Wayne State before cleaning up the offense in the next two sets. SMSU hit .429 in the third set and .324 in the fourth set to force the match to a fifth and deciding set.

Both teams traded points for much of the fifth set, with the Mustangs holding onto a 13-12 advantage. But three straight SMSU hitting errors allowed Wayne State to pick up the win.

Abbey Thissen hammered down 19 kills for the Mustangs, while Claire Sames had 12, Whitney Burmeister 11 and Jessica Thelemann 10. Setter Emilee Gutzmer added 53 set assists and four ace serves for the team, while libero Rachel Westby anchored the defense with 28 digs.

Wayne State outblocked the Mustangs 23-8. Sames had one solo block for SMSU.

“We have to improve our hitting efficiency, our blocking and do a better job of dealing with the way our opponents block us.”

The Mustangs came out strong in the first set against GVS, hitting .444, but were unable to keep the momentum going into the final three sets. Burmeister recorded a career-high 17 kills for SMSU, while Thelemann contributed nine. Parker and Thissen added eight kills apiece, while Gutzmer chipped in with 41 set assists and four kills.

Westby contributed 21 digs for SMSU, while Burmeister had 14 and Christa Wolf had nine. GVS collected 16 team blocks during the match, while the Mustangs earned six.

SMSU continues action against Adams State (Colo.) and West Florida on Friday at the two-day Premier Challenge in Denver, Colorado.

Wayne State 3, SMSU 2


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Ace Serves: SMSU-Emilee Gutzmer 4, Bailey Kirchhoff 3, Whitney Burmeister 1, Christa Wolf 1, Rachel Westby 1; W-Macy Steenhuysen 2, Carlee Hunt 1, Heather Weiss 1.

Kills: SMSU-Abbey Thissen 19, Claire Sames 12, Burmeister 11, Jessica Thelemann 10, Sarah Parker 6, Gutzmer 5; W-Kristen Bulkiewicz 16, Candice Ottey 13, Kelsey Bonewits 10, E. Jackson-Jones 6, Weiss 5.

Digs: SMSU-Westby 28, Burmeister 8, Kirchhoff 8, Thelemann 7, Sames 5; W-Bulkiewicz 17, Hunt 12, Steenhuysen 10, Madison Reeves 6, Jessica DeLeeuw 5.

Assists: SMSU-Gutzmer 53, Westby 4; W-Reeves 45, Bulkiewicz 3, DeLeeuw 2.

Blocks (solo-assists): SMSU-Sames 1-6, Burmeister 0-2, Gutzmer 0-2, Thelemann 0-2, Thissen 0-1, Parker 0-1; W-Jackson-Jones 2-9, Bonewits 1-10, Ottey 1-5, Weiss 0-6, Bulkiewicz 0-5, Reeves 0-3.

Grand Valley State 3, SMSU 1



Ace Serves: SMSU-Burmeister 1, Sames 1, Gutzmer 1, Kirchhoff 1, Ellen Degler 1; GVS-Betsy Ronda 5, Ally Simmons 1, Abby Alken 1, Christina Canepa 1.

Kills: SMSU-Burmeister 17, Thelemann 9, Parker 8, Abbey Thissen 8, Sames 7, Gutzmer 4; GVS-Ronda 16, Simmons 8, Alken 8, Kaleigh Lound 6, Megan Schroeder 6, Kaitlyn Wolters 2.

Digs: SMSU-Westby 21, Burmeister 14, Wolf 9, Thelemann 6, Sames 3, Degler 3; GVS-Canepa 13, Alken 12, Ronda 8, Nicayla Joyce 8, Lound 3.

Assists: SMSU-Gutzmer 41; GVS-Wolters 21, Clair Ruhenkamp 19.

Blocks (solo-assists): SMSU-Parker 1-5, Julia Walfoort 0-2, Gutzmer 0-1, Thelemann 0-1, Burmeister 0-1; GVS-Alken 4-3, Lound 0-7, Wolters 1-5, Ronda 1-2.