Playing without libero Rachel Westby, the No. 1-ranked Southwest Minnesota State volleyball team proved it could overcome adversity by sweeping Winona State Friday night in a Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference match in Winona.
The Mustangs won a tight first set 27-25 before rolling in the next two sets to 25-15 and 25-16 victories.
Westby was out with a concussion, and losing the team's digs leader was cause for concern for the Mustangs' coach.
"She's a pretty integral part of what we do," SMSU head coach Terry Culhane said. "I was really concerned coming into the night.
"I thought we started out really tight in Game 1, but as the game went on we got a little more relaxed and found a way to win."
Senior Brooke Burmeister helped pick up some of the slack defensively for SMSU, which improves to 22-1 overall and 14-1 in the NSIC. She led the team in both kills (12) and digs (15).
"Brooke's responsibility changed for us," Culhane said. "She had to pass more and she led us in kills, she led us in digs, she led us in hitting efficiency.
"She got off to a real tough start, they had a good server going at her, but we were asking her to cover a lot of ground and she got going after that."
McKell Anderson added 12 digs and six kills for the Mustangs, and Abbey Thissen and Mary Groth each joined Burmeister in double figures in kills with 11 apiece.
The Mustangs resume their road trip today against Upper Iowa.
SMSU27 25 25
WSU25 15 16
Ace Serves: SMSU-Devin Diedrich 2, Whitney Burmeister; WSU-Katie Froehle 3, Kayla Uhlenhake, Kaley Jacobson.
Kills: SMSU-Brooke Burmeister 12, Abbey Thissen 11, Mary Groth 11, McKell Anderson 6, Diedrich 6; WSU-Frohle 11, Kate Horihan 5.
Digs: SMSU-B. Burmeister 15, Anderson 12, Emilee Gutzmer 10, Kelsey Hennen 8; WSU-Froehle 8, Maggie Finkel 8.
Set Assists: SMSU-Gutzmer 36; WSU-Uhlenhake 13, Elena Kruesel 12.
Blocks (solo-assists): SMSU-Anderson 1-0, Groth 0-1, Gutzmer 0-1; WSU-Kathleen Omelina 0-3.