NCAA VOLLEYBALL: Mustangs break SMSU record for consecutive sweeps

MANKATO?- The No. 6-ranked Southwest Minnesota State swept its school record seventh straight opponent and extended its consecutive set winning streak to 22 against Minnesota State on Friday.

The Mustangs’ 3-0 Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference match victory over the Mavericks came as a result of a 27-25, 25-21, 25-17 decision.

SMSU’s previous streaks were six consecutive sweeps and 19 consecutive set victories, set by both the 2009 and 2012 squads.

The Mustangs (15-3 overall, 10-0 NSIC) haven’t lost a set since Sept. 24 at Sioux Falls.

In Set 1, SMSU led early through the set but relinquished the lead at the halfway point as Minnesota State’s Lexi Platz knotted the score at 12-12.

The teams trade points back-and-forth until it became 16-all. Then, SMSU rattled off two straight points behind a Sarah Parker kill and a Maverick attack error.

The Mustangs were forced to take a timeout to stop the bleeding as the lead slipped in favor of the Mavericks at 19-18.

Facing a Minnesota State set point at 24-23, SMSU defended well and turned to McKell Anderson for one of her 11 kills.

With the set tied at 25, the Mustangs rallied with two consecutive points to take the set behind kills from Abbey Thissen and Claire Sames.

SMSU built a comfortable 9-5 lead in Set 2 and forced Minnesota State to use a timeout. The Mustangs’ lead became 21-13, but the Mavericks wouldn’t go quietly.

Minnesota State went on a 9-2 run to take some wind out of SMSU’s sail and pushed the score to 23-21. But the Mustangs regrouped and strung together back-to-back points, including a Rachel Westby service ace to cap the set victory.

SMSU had a slow start in Set 3 as the Mustangs fell behind 8-5 and were forced to take a timeout.

A Tiana Runk attack error tied the score at 11-11 and, from there, the Mustangs rallied – scoring six of the next eight points.

A 17-13 lead would be all SMSU needed as it cruised to a 25-17 set victory and its seventh straight sweep.

The Mustangs forced 20 Maverick attack errors and were only blocked three times, a season low.

SMSU was led by Anderson’s 11 kills on 22 attacks (.364). Claire Sames followed with nine kills and Whitney Burmeister chipped in eight kills and 11 digs. Sarah Parker finished with a career-high .545 hitting percentage (seven kills, one error, 11 attacks). Emilee Gutzmer had 40 assists and set up SMSU to a .234 hitting percentage.

The Mustangs look to upset No. 1-ranked Concordia this afternoon at the Gangelhoff Center in St. Paul. SMSU played nine matches there last season, finishing 7-2, including a win over the Golden Bears.