SMSU VOLLEYBALL: No. 4 Mustangs win share of NSIC Championship

MARSHALL The Southwest Minnesota State Mustangs took on the Minot State University Beavers on Saturday in the Mustangs’ last match of the regular season. The Mustangs came out over the Beavers in three sets with the scores of 25-15, 25-18 and 25-8.

SMSU came in ready to clinch the NSIC Conference Championship. In the first set, the Mustangs led 19-12 over the Beavers at the first timeout. The Mustangs continued their dominance through the set and took the lead 23-15 over Minot State as Amber Demenge went back to serve. Demenge earned two aces in a row to help the Mustangs earn the final two points of the set and earn the 25-15 win over the Beavers.

Minot State came to the second set in full force and was ready for a battle. SMSU trailed Minot State 4-2 early in the second set and went on a three point streak to take the lead 5-4. The Beavers were not ready to back down, though, and led the set 11-8 when the Mustangs took a timeout to regroup. When play resumed, SMSU fought both offensively and defensively to regain the lead. Later in the set, Taylor Reiss extended the Mustangs’ lead to 20-16 with an ace. Although the Beavers threatened to overpower the Mustangs in set two, SMSU earned the win over Minot State 25-18.

SMSU came to fight in the third set as they led over Minot State through the entirety of the set. Reiss earned yet another ace in the third set to put the Mustangs up 13-3 over the Beavers while Jenna Walczak earned back-to-back kills to further her team’s lead to 16-4. Later in the set, a serving error on behalf of Minot State put SMSU up 22-6. The Mustangs held their lead in the third set to top the Beavers 25-8 and earn the match win 3-0.

Impressive on the court for SMSU was Reiss with 15 kills, five aces and 11 digs. Eisha Oden had 12 kills and four blocks while Kaylee Burmeister had eight kills. Amber Demenge had two aces and Cassie Kunshier had one ace while Amber Messner had three set assists and ten digs in SMSU’s victory over Minot State. Megan Larson led the team with 41 set assists.

Coach Terry Culhane was proud of his team’s performance this year.

“To be in this position in our conference is not an easy thing,” said Culhane. “We’re excited about being conference champions and now we can move on to the next phase; the conference tournament and then hopefully regionals.”

SMSU moves on to play the University of Sioux Falls in the first round of the NSIC Tournament on Wednesday, which will be a first for freshman Jenna Walczak.

“We just have to keep working hard every single day at practice,” said Walczak of her team’s preparations for the NSIC Tournament.

SMSU’s Saturday night victory earned them a share of the NSIC Championship, which they shared with Concordia-St. Paul. The Mustangs are scheduled to play the Cougars at SMSU on Wednesday at 7:00 p.m.

SMSU 3, Minot State 0

SMSU 25 25 25

Minot St. 15 18 8

SMSU Individual Statistics

Digs: Reiss, 11; Messner, 10; Larson, 6

Kills: Reiss, 15; Oden, 12; Burmeister, 8

Aces: Reiss, 5; Demenge, 2; Kunshier, 1

Blocks: Oden, 4; Reiss, 3; Walczak, 3

Assists: Larson, 41; Messner, 3; Reiss, 1