Compiling a season-high nine ace serves, the second-ranked Southwest Minnesota State volleyball team stormed past Northern State 25-16, 25-23, 25-14 Friday in Aberdeen, S.D.
In her first collegiate match, SMSU freshman Whitney Burmeister recorded a team-high five ace serves to go with five digs. Devin Diedrich added three aces for the Mustangs, who improved to 13-1 overall and 5-1 in Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference competition.
The Mustangs finished the night with a .211 attack percentage, which wasn't bad, but not as good as the team was last weekend against St. Cloud State and Minnesota-Duluth.
"I think we're happy any time we can win on the road," SMSU head coach Terry Culhane said. "Northern is a much improved team.
"I thought we certainly could be more efficient than we were today. But Devin Diedrich had a really good day hitting (11 kills). It was good to see her getting on track."
The Mustangs jumped out to an early lead in the first set and cruised to a nine-point win. They held the Wolves (6-8 overall, 1-5 NSIC) to a -.043 hitting percentage in the set and a .058 percentage for the match.
The second set went much less smoothly for SMSU. The Wolves pulled out to a 12-5 lead in the set, at which point Culhane called his second timeout of the set to try to get his team to regroup.
The response was immediate, as SMSU quickly rallied with five straight points. The Mustangs played tight with the Wolves through the rest of the set and grabbed a 24-23 lead after a kill by senior middle blocker Mary Groth, who had a match-high 12 kills. Burmeister finished off the set with an ace serve to give the Mustangs a 2-0 lead.
There were no such struggles for SMSU in the third set, as the team surged ahead 10-3 with the help of multiple attack errors by NSU. Four points was as close as the Wolves got the rest of the way.
Along with her three ace serves, Diedrich also had 11 kills and four ace blocks. Abbey Thissen joined Groth and Diedrich in double figures in kills, recording 10. Emilee Gutzmer had 41 set assists for SMSU, while NSU setter Drew Smith had 20.
Leading the Mustangs' defense in the back row was junior libero Rachel Westby, who had 11 digs. Senior Brooke Burmeister added nine digs and also had eight kills.
"We did a decent job of handling the ball," Culhane said."Rachel passed well and our ball-handling kids - Rachel, Kelsey Hennen and Whitney Burmeister) all helped get things started."
The Mustangs continue their NSIC weekend road trip today against Minnesota State-Moorhead. The first serve is set for 5 p.m.
SMSU25 25 25
NSU16 23 14
Ace Serves: SMSU-Whitney Burmeister 5, Devin Diedrich 3, Rachel Westby; NSU-Whitney Kemink.
Kills: SMSU-Mary Groth 12, Diedrich 11, Abbey Thissen 10, Brooke Burmeister 8, McKell Anderson 4; NSU-Kaleinani Kabalis 9, Jussy Tuscherer 6.
Digs: Westby 11, B. Burmeister 9, W. Burmeister 5; NSU-Kabalis 10, Ella Campbell 9.
Set Assists: SMSU-Emilee Gutzmer 41; NSU-Drew Smith 20.
Blocks: SMSU-Diedrich 4, B. Burmeister, Thissen; NSU-Kemink 6, Jussy Tuscherer 5.