NCAA VOLLEYBALL: Mustangs end mini-skid with win over Beavers

MARSHALL – Abbey Thissen had 14 kills and a .480 hitting percentage, Claire Sames added 10 kills and Emilee Gutzmer had 43 set assists as the Southwest Minnesota State University volleyball team overcame a slow start to snap a two-match skid with a 25-21, 25-17, 25-14 Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference win over Bemidji State University on Friday night.

In Set 1, the Mustangs found themselves in a quick 7-1 hole before rallying with a big 15-4 run to force a Bemidji State timeout. The two teams went back and forth after SMSU grabbed the 16-11 advantage.

The Mustangs, who entered Friday’s contest with an 18-match winning streak against BSU, had a little trouble putting the Beavers away late in the set, as BSU clawed to within four points at 22-18, prompting an SMSU timeout. The Mustangs closed out Game One on Thissen’s fifth kill of the set.

The Mustangs got off on a better foot in the second set. SMSU opened with an 8-4 spurt, but BSU kept it close at 20-16 before another SMSU run closed out the set. SMSU scored eight of the last nine points of Set 2 for the 25-17 win.

The third set saw another strong start for the home team as the Mustangs opened by scoring eight of the first 10 points. SMSU built its lead to 21-8 and withstood a short BSU spurt later in the set to get the sweep.

Rachel Westby and Whitney Burmeister had 13 and eight digs, respectively for the Mustangs, who improved to 16-5 overall and 11-2 in the NSIC with the victory, while BSU dropped to 5-16 (1-12 in the conference).

The Mustangs hit .327 for the match, while BSU registered a .220 hitting percentage.

Four SMSU teams are in action today, but the volleyball team will have the spotlight this afternoon, as it entertains the University of Minnesota-Crookston at 3 p.m. today. The Mustangs are off for the rest of the month after today, then hit the road for NSIC tilts against St. Cloud State on Friday and the University of Minnesota-Duluth on Saturday. SMSU returns home Nov. 8 for a match against Minot State to kick off a three-match homestand.