NCAA VOLLEYBALL: Mustangs sweep Warriors

MARSHALL – Claire Sames slammed 11 kills and finished with a career-high .526 hitting percentage to lead No. 6 Southwest Minnesota State to a straight set (25-15, 25-15, 25-13) victory over Winona State in Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference action Friday.

Sames’ previous career-high for hitting percentage was .500 (12-1-22), which she set versus Eckerd, Fla., on Sept. 6.

SMSU extended its winning streak to nine straight matches and improved its record to 13-3 overall and 8-0 in the NSIC.

The Mustangs combined to hit .350 (48-13-100) in the three sets and were led by Sames and Abbey Thissen, who each finished with 11 kills. Balancing out the offensive attack was Whitney Burmeister with nine kills, and Sarah Parker and McKell Anderson, who each finished with eight kills.

“We were more efficient with our hitting,” Mustangs head coach Terry Culhane said. “Throughout the box score, we showed balance from many of our hitters.”

SMSU dominated from the start as it quickly built to a 10-2 lead in Set 1. The rally was capped by the block assist of Sames and Thissen. Sames put an end to the set as a Warrior pass sailed over the net and the sophomore middle blocker sent it to the floor.

“We started out playing well, defensively, by taking care of the ball and, offensively, with our swings. We didn’t have many unforced errors,” Culhane said. “We did a nice job taking care of the ball and getting to (setter) Emilee (Gutzmer).”

Unlike the first set, the second set featured the two teams battling for an advantage. Leading 10-9, SMSU went on a 9-0 run to put the set out of Winona State’s reach at 19-9. The rally was capped by a Parker and Burmeister block assist.

Carrying a 13-9 lead in the middle of Set 3, SMSU used a 12-4 run to finish off the Warriors and earn its fifth straight sweep.

“Once we were able to establish control, we kept it. We did a great job of that,” Culhane said. “In the first game, Winona State had some decent swings at us, but we controlled the ball by not throwing it all over the place. It led us to getting back some swings that helped us score.”

SMSU currently has a 15-straight set winning streak.

The Mustangs will carry their streaks into today’s match against Upper Iowa at the PE Gym. The first serve is set for 4 p.m.

Winona State15 15 13

SMSU25 25 25

SERVING – WSU 1 (Leah Perri); SMSU 1 (McKell Anderson).

KILLS – WSU 22 (Rachel Polland 7, Katie Froehle 4, Mikaela Girard 4, Alli Glisch 3); SMSU 48 (Abbey Thissen 11, Claire Sames 11, Whitney Burmeister 9, Sarah Parker 8, McKell Anderson 8, Emilee Gutzmer 1).

DIGS – WSU 31 (Katie Froehle 9, Bekah Saugen 6); SMSU 47 (Rachel Westby 13, McKell Anderson 11, Whitney Burmeister 9, Emilee Gutzmer 7).

SET ASSISTS – WSU 22 (Kayla Unlenhake 9, Kaley Jacobsen 7); SMSU 44 (Emilee Gutzmer 42).

BLOCKS – WSU 8 (Mikaela Girard 1 solo); SMSU 8 (Whitney Burmeister 1 solo, 3 assists; Sarah Parker 1 solo, 2 assists; Claire Sames 4 assists; Abbey Thissen 3 assists).