SMSU VOLLEYBALL: Larson sets the tone for the Mustangs

Megan Larson prepares to set the ball during a match against USF on Sept. 20.

MARSHALL – Megan Larson is entering her fourth and final year as a member of the Southwest Minnesota State University volleyball team. Larson returns as a three-year starter and will be one of three starters returning for head coach, Terry Culhane.

Larson is a 2014 graduate from Minneota High School. During her time as a Viking she helped guide Minneota to a pair of third place finishes at the state tournament. Larson was named to the all-tournament teams both years. She finished her career as a Viking with over 3,000 assists.

That high school success has carried over to the collegiate level for Larson.

As a freshman Larson led the Mustangs with 1,115 assists. One of Larson’s favorite memories from her time as a Mustang thus far came her freshman year.

“My favorite memory is from freshman year when we were at nationals,” Larson said. “That’s one that always sticks out. That was a lot of fun.”

The Mustangs finished with a record of 26-10 during Larson’s freshman year. The following year they went 26-6, as Larson earned All-NSIC second team. Larson finished the year with a team-leading 1,439 assists. She finished ranked ninth in the nation in total assists and sixth in assists per set (11.99).

Last year the Mustangs finished with a record of 28-6. Larson was named All-NSIC first team. She recoded 1,517 assists and finished ranked first in the nation in assists per set (12.96) and second in the nation in total assists.

Through Larson’s first three years on campus the Mustangs have accumulated a record of 80-22. Culhane said that Larson has been an integral key to that success.

“Megan has played an important role in the success of the SMSU volleyball team the past three years,” Culhane said. “She has developed into an All-American setter, directing one of the top offenses in Division II.”

Larson said her first three years at SMSU have gone by in a blur.

“They went by super fast,” Larson said. “We’ve obviously had success every year. We’ve made it into the regions every year. This year I’m hoping we can win the region. Overall, they’ve been successful years.”

As Larson prepares for her final year as a Mustang she needs 238 assists to become the program’s all-time leader in assists. Larson said she wouldn’t have those numbers if it weren’t for her teammates.

“I love that it takes so much teamwork to be successful,” Larson said. “You need everyone in order to play. I can’t set without passers. Hitters can’t hit without setters. I just love that part of the game that everybody needs one another.”

This year will mark Larson’s fourth year as a starter for the Mustangs. Culhane and his staff are expecting to lean on that experience this season.

“We look for Megan to be a solid six rotation player(offensively and defensively) and use her three years of experience to continue to improve as a player,” Culhane said. “It’s not very often as a college coach you get to go into a season with your setter playing her fourth season at this level of play.”

Larson is one of three seniors on the roster for the Mustangs. As a senior Larson will be taking on more of a leadership role.

“I really want to step up and be a leader for the team,” Larson said. “If I’m setting I want to work on leading the team and being that person that’s always getting teammates up and being there for them.”

Culhane said the thing that separates Larson from other setters is her athleticism.

“Megan has many strengths led by her athleticism,” Culhane said. “She has the ability to take difficult plays look easy and better the ball for her hitters.”

When the season comes to an end it will close the book on a successful run for Larson in a Mustang uniform. The one thing Larson will miss the most when all is said and done is her teammates.

“I think I’ll miss my teammates and the coaching staff the most,” Larson said. “I’ll miss being a part of that team and getting to share that love for the sport with everyone.”