NCAA VOLLEYBALL: Another unbeaten falls to SMSU

MARSHALL – For the second straight match, No. 10-ranked Southwest Minnesota State defeated a previously unbeaten Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference volleyball team.

The Mustangs (7-3 overall, 2-0 NSIC) knocked off No. 7-ranked Wayne State, Neb., 25-21, 23-25, 25-21, 25-18 on Saturday at the SMSU P.E. Gym. The Wildcats fell to 9-1 overall and 1-1 against the NSIC.

“We battled and fought and that needs to be the personality of our team,” SMSU head coach Terry Culhane said. “It was not going to be easy. It never is easy against Wayne State because they are a good team. I was happy with the way our kids perserved through the four games.”

On Thursday at Sioux Falls, S.D., the Mustangs handed Augustana (8-2, 0-2 NSIC) its first loss by winning in four games. SMSU currently stands in a six-way tie for first place with Concordia-St. Paul, Minnesota-Duluth, Minnesota State, Northern State and St. Cloud State.

Abbey Thissen led the Mustangs with 21 kills while Whitney Burmeister (13 kills, 25 digs) and McKell Anderson (11 kills, 16 digs) each posted double doubles. Claire Sames added nine kills and 3 1/2 blocks.

Emilee Gutzmer set up 52 assists for SMSU and Rachel Westby also made 16 digs.

“I think we need to create an identity every time we take the court,” Thissen said. “We know that we’re a smaller team and we have to be scrappy in trying to score any way we can.”

In Game 1, Thissen and Sames combined to block Katie Hughes’ attack as SMSU took an 12-11 lead. Later, a pair of kills from Sames came during a five-point run as the Mustangs went ahead 19-12. But the Wildcats rallied to make it 24-21 on Elizabeth Gebhardt’s kill before Burmeister terminated Game 1 for SMSU on a kill.

Wayne State scored the first five points in Game 2 and led 16-9 before the Mustangs rallied. Burmeister created a kill, Westby served one of her three aces, and kills from Sames and Thissen cut the SMSU deficit to 16-14.

After splitting the next eight points, a Thissen kill brought the Mustangs with 24-23. But Gebhardt, who had 13 kills for the Wildcats, tied the match at one game apiece with a kill.

“I saw that Wayne State’s outside hitter was trying to away the line from me,” Thissen said. “If she was doing that, I tried to use the cross-court as much as possible.”

Burmeister’s only ace of the match handed SMSU a seven-point (21-14) lead in Game 3. The Mustangs limited Wayne State kill leader Cori Hobbs to three during the set while Thissen had five terminations. Ultimately, a service error by the Wildcats’ Lisa McClintock gave SMSU the set win.

The Mustangs led from the start of Game 4 before securing the match victory. Thissen generated five more kills, including the match-winner as SMSU improved to 4-1 versus AVCA Divison II Top 25 teams this season.

“This was a tough weekend for us to start with (in NSIC play),” Culhane said. “I didn’t know how we would react. I think it goes toward us finding our identity and figuring out who we are this season. Now we just have keep plugging away.”

NO. 10 SMSU 3,


Wayne State 21 25 21 18

SMSU25 23 25 25

SERVING ACES – WSU 0; SMSU 6 (Rachel Westby 3, Whitney Burmeister, Bailey Kirchhoff, Ellen Degler).

KILLS – WSU 54 (Cori Hobbs 16, Elizabeth Gebhardt 13, Katie Hughes 9, Katie Beiermann 7, Alyssa Frauendorfer 5, Leisa McClintock 4); SMSU 61 (Abbey Thissen 21, Whitney Burmeister 13, McKell Anderson 11, Claire Sames 9, Jessica Thelemann 6, Emilee Gutzmer).

DIGS – WSU 57 (C. VanGroningen 18, Katie Hughes 12, Leisa McClintock 10, Micahaela Mestl 9, Cori Hobbs 6, Alyssa Frauendorfer, Jennifer Nakata); SMSU 70 (Whitney Burmeister 25, McKell Anderson 16, Rachel Westby 16, Emilee Gutzmer 8, Ellen Degler 4, Jessica Thelemann).

ASSISTS – WSU 50 (Leisa McClintock 41, Katie Hughes 4, C. VanGroningen 3, Alyssa Frauendorfer, Katie Beiermann); SMSU 58 (Emilee Gurtzmer 52, Rachel Westby 4, Whitney Burmeister, Jessica Thelemann).

BLOCKS (SOLO-ASSISTED-TOTAL) – WSU 2-18-11 (Leisa McClintock 2-0-2, Cori Hobbs 0-5-2 1/2, Katie Beiermann 0-4-2, Alyssa Frauendorfer 0-4-2, Elizabeth Gebhardt 0-3-1 1/2, Katie Hughes 0-1-1/2, Lexi Malm 0-1-1/2); SMSU 2-14-9 (Claire Sames 1-5-3 1/2, McKell Anderson 1-2-2, Abbey Thissen 0-3-1 1/2, Jessica Thelemann 0-2-1, Whitney Burmeister 0-1-1/2, Emilee Gutzmer 0-1-1/2).