NCAA VOLLEYBALL: Mustangs survive in 5 at Sioux Falls

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – The No. 9-ranked Southwest Minnesota State volleyball team held on for a thrilling 3-2 road victory over the University of Sioux Falls, 23-25, 25-14, 25-22, 22-25, 15-13 on Tuesday.

The Mustangs extended its season-high winning streak to four and improved to 8-3 overall and 3-0 versus the NSIC. Sioux Falls dropped to 8-3 overall and 1-2 against the NSIC.

“We were very fortunate to win this match,” SMSU head coach Terry Culhane said. “It was a real nail-biter.”

Whitney Burmeister led the Mustangs with a career-high 19 kills, hitting .362, and added 19 digs for her team-leading eighth double-double of the season. Claire Sames also had a career night for SMSU, recording a career-high 19 kills, while hitting .452. Rachel Westby added 19 digs to pace the Mustangs’ defense, while McKell Anderson added 11 digs.

SMSU ended the match hitting .207 (65-29-174) with eight service aces and eight blocks. USF hit .223 (55-22-148) with five aces and 11 blocks.

The teams played a tight opening set before USF forced a 20-20 tie with three straight points and held off a late SMSU charge to earn a 25-23 win.

In Set 2, the Mustangs jumped to a 7-2 lead and never looked back in evening the match 1-1. Sames sparked the Mustangs in the set, racking up seven kills, including securing five of SMSU’s final eight points.

Set 3 was a battle throughout before SMSU broke away late to earn the victory. Jessica Theleman snapped a 20-20 tie with a kill and following a USF error. Then, Abbey Thissen pushed the Mustangs’ lead to 23-20 with another kill. SMSU closed the set with kills from Burmeister and Sames.

USF rebounded in Set 4, snapping an 11-11 tie with four straight points and held off a late SMSU charge to tie the match 2-2 and force a fifth set.

As expected, the fifth set was just as tight. USF built a 3-0 lead, before SMSU rebounded and grabbed an 8-6 advantage.

The Cougars reeled off five of the next seven points to regain the lead at 11-10. Thissen recorded a kill to tie the set at 11, before USF went back in front with its own kill to take a 12-11 advantage.

Sames tied the set with a kill before Ellen Degler came through with an ace serve to push the Mustangs into the lead at 13-12. USF answered with a kill to tie the score at 13, before Burmeister and Sames followed with back-to-back kills to give SMSU its second five-set victory this season.

Southwest Minnesota State is home this weekend for a pair of matches at the P.E. Gym. On Friday, the Mustangs face Northern State (9-1, 2-1 NSIC) at 7 p.m. before taking on MSU-Moorhead at 4 p.m. Saturday.