In its first-ever match as the No. 1-ranked team in the nation, the Southwest Minnesota State volleyball team defeated Sioux Falls 3-0 Tuesday night in Sioux Falls, S.D. The Mustangs won the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference match 25-12, 25-21, 25-21 for their 12th-straight victory.
SMSU head coach Terry Culhane, whose team moves to 19-1 overall and 11-1 in the NSIC, said his team's performance was a bit uneven against the struggling Cougars (2-10 NSIC).
"I thought that in Game 1 they made a lot of mistakes and gave us a lot of points," he said. "Then in Games 2 and 3, they made less mistakes and we just weren't as sharp."
Culhane saidsenior middle blocker Devin Diedrich was one of the players who maintained steady play throughout the match. She finished with a match-high 12 kills and also had one solo block and two block assists.
Mary Groth added 10 kills for SMSU, Brooke Burmeister tallied eight, and Abbey Thissen and McKell Anderson each had six.
Culhane said libero Rachel Westby had a strong night for the team defensively. She finished with 11 digs.
The Mustangs used two setters in the match. Regular setter Emilee Gutzmer worked the first two sets and finished with 22 assists, and Jenna Duddleston came in for the third and had 13 assists.
"We need to have Jenna ready and it's just one of those things where we need to make sure both setters have some sharpness," Culhane said.
SMSU is back home Friday and Saturday for a pair of NSIC contests. Friday, the team will have its second annual "Red Out" against the Mary Marauders. The first 500 fans will receive a free "Red Out" t-shirt promoting heart disease awareness. The match will start at 7 p.m.
Saturday, the Mustangs will wrap up the weekend with a 3 p.m. match against Minot State.
SMSU25 25 25
USF12 21 21
Ace Serves: SMSU-Whitney Burmeister 4, Emilee Gutzmer 2, Devin Diedrich, Rachel Westby; USF-Emily Johnson 2, Kellee Griese.
Kills: SMSU-Diedrich 12, Mary Groth 10, Brooke Burmeister 8, Abbey Thissen 6, McKell Anderson 6, Westby; USF-Griese 7, Johnson 6, Sarah Kohler 5, Natalie Minchow 5.
Digs: SMSU-Westby 11, Kelsey Hennen 8, Anderson 7, B. Burmeister 6.
Set Assists: SMSU-Gutzmer 22, Jenna Duddleston 13; USF-Andrea Odbert 9.
Blocks (solo-assists): SMSU-Diedrich 1-2, Thissen 0-2; Samantha Lovell 3-3, Alexa Reed 0-2, Johnson 1-1.