NCAA VOLLEYBALL: SMSU on target in NSIC sweep of Wolves

MARSHALL – Firing on all cylinders, No. 9 Southwest Minnesota State University hit a season-high .354 to gain the upper hand against Northern State University on Friday night in Marshall.

The Mustangs improved to 9-4 overall and 4-0 in Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference action with the 25-15, 25-21, 25-15 sweep over the Wolves (9-2, 2-2 NSIC).

The win stretched SMSU’s winning streak over NSU to 17 straight.

Abbey Thissen sparked the Mustang offense, hitting a season-high .682 hitting percentage and recording a team-high 17 kills in the match. Whitney Burmeister chipped in with 11 kills and eight digs, while Rachel Westby collected 15 digs and Emilee Gutzmer added 42 set assists.

SMSU jumped out to an 8-2 lead in the first set behind four kills. After trading a number of points back and forth, SMSU was able to stretch its lead to 17-9, forcing a second NSU timeout. But the Wolves were unable to mount an attack and fell 25-15.

In the second set, the Mustangs held a 4-1 edge before NSU put together a rally and took a 7-5 lead, forcing SMSU to take a timeout. Back-to-back kills from Nico Schmidt and Jessica Thelemann gave the Mustangs a 10-9 lead, which they never relinquished for the remainder of the set. Schmidt finished the night with seven kills, while Claire Sames had five, McKell Anderson three and Thelemann two.

With the score knotted at 4-all in the third set, SMSU hammered down five straight kills, forcing the Wolves to take a timeout. The Mustangs kept the pressure on and stretched the lead to 19-11 on a Westby ace serve and cruised to a 25-15 win.

SMSU continues NSIC action at 4 p.m. today at home against Minnesota State University Moorhead.

Northern State15 21 15

SMSU25 25 25

Ace Serves: NSU-Jussy Tuscherer 1, Macey Finizio 1; SMSU-Whitney Burmeister 1, Emilee Gutzmer 1, Rachel Westby 1, Ellen Degler 1.

Kills: NSU-Finizio 9, Tuscherer 8, Tori Blach 6, Cari McGarvie 5, Kelsey Chambers 5; SMSU-Abbey Thissen 17, Burmeister 11, Nico Schmidt 7, Claire Sames 5, McKell Anderson 3, Jessica Thelemann 2.

Digs: NSU-Tuscherer 10, Sami Nygaard 8, Chambers 7; SMSU-Westby 15, Anderson 8, Burmeister 8.

Set Assists: NSU-Drew Smith 30; SMSU-Gutzmer 42.

Blocks (solo-assists): NSU-Blach 1-1, Chambers 0-1; SMSU-Sames 2-1, Thelemann 1-3, Thissen 0-3, Schmidt 1-0, Anderson 0-1.