SMSU VOLLEYBALL: SMSU volleyball opens NSIC play against Augustana and Wayne State

Independent file photo SMSU’s Eisha Oden (7) and Taylor Reiss (1) go up for a block during a Nov. 2016 match against Augustana University.

MARSHALL – The top-ranked Southwest Minnesota State women’s volleyball team (8-0) will open conference play this week as they travel to play at No. 9 Augustana on Thursday at 6 p.m., followed by its home opener against Wayne State on Saturday against No. 17 Wayne State as the Mustangs look to remain unbeaten on the season.

SMSU Quick Hits

– SMSU took over the No. 1 ranking in the country for the first time since 2012 in the latest AVCA top-25 poll.

– Taylor Reiss was recognized this week as the Sports Imports/ AVCA DII National Player of the Week.

– Megan Larson and Taylor Reiss were recognized by the NSIC as Setter of the Week and Offensive Player of the week respectively.

– Larson became the program’s all-time leader in career assists in SMSU’s win over Ferris State last week.

– Reiss became the 14th player in program history to surpass the 1,000 career kills mark in the Mustangs’ win over No. 1 Concordia-St. Paul.

– The Mustangs’ captured their first Colorado Premier Championship in eight trips after defeating No. 1 Concordia-St. Paul last Saturday night.

– SMSU opens NSIC play this week taking on two more ranked opponents in No. 9 Augustana and No. 17 Wayne State.

Augustana Match Preview

Series History

– SMSU is 18-2 in the last 20 matches overall vs. Augustana.

– Augustana has a slight edge in the all-time series, leading 31-30-1.

– The two teams went five sets in both matches last season.

– Augustana defeated SMSU in its home opener, 17-25, 25-19, 19-25, 25-18, 15-11.

– SMSU beat Augustana in the NCAA Central Region Semifinal match, 21-25, 25-23, 16-25, 25-17, 15-9.

– The Mustangs own a 9-2 conference record against Augustana since the Vikings joined the NSIC in 2008.

– SMSU is 8-14-1 all-time vs. Augustana in road matches.

Augustana Team Notes

– Overall Record: 8-1

– Home Record: 1-0

– Current Streak: Won 7

– Augustana was forced to change its travel plans in the wake of Hurricane Irma last week; With the cancellation of the Bash at the Beach Volleyball Tournament in West Palm Beach, Fla., Augustana elected to compete in the Lindenwood Challenge in St. Charles, Mo.

– Augustana was swept in its only loss of the season to Regis University at the Oredigger Classic in Golden, Colo.

– Junior outside hitter, Courtney Place, leads the Vikings’ attack with 3.68 kills per set and a .219 hitting percentage.

– Senior middle blocker, Ashley Wilson, has a team high 33.0 total blocks on the year with seven solo blocks.

– Senior setter, Alex Banker, is averaging 10.91 assists/set.

– Senior libero, Tahlyr Banks, leads the team with 4.66 digs/set.

Wayne State Match Preview

Series History

– Wayne State leads the all-time series 26-28-1.

– SMSU won all three matches between the two school last season dropping just one set in the process.

– SMSU swept the regular season matchup, swept WSC in the NSIC Tournament Semifinal, and won 3-1 in the NCAA Central Region Quarterfinal match.

– The Mustangs are 7-5 against Wayne State in the last 12 matches and hold a 16-13 record over the Wildcats in conference matches.

– SMSU is 12-6 all-time in home matches against WSC.

Wayne State Team Notes

– Overall Record: 5-3

– Road Record:1-1

– Current Streak: Lost 3

– Wayne State began the 2017 season with three non-conference tournaments.

– WSC went 3-1 to start the year in the Colorado School of Mines Tournament in Golden, Colo.

– The Wildcats went 2-0 in Pueblo, Colo., at the CSU Pueblo Tournament.

– Wayne State went 0-2 to wrap up non-conference action with losses to Colorado-Colo. Springs and Colo. School of Mines in Colo. Springs at the UCCS Tournament.

– Senior, Erin Gross, leads the Wildcats’ attack with 2.69 kills per set.

– Redshirt freshman, Jaci Brahmer, is averaging a team high 1.44 blocks per set.

– Sophomore libero, Haley Kauth, averages 4.31 digs per set.

– Junior setter, Megan Gebhardt, is currently averaging 9.06 assists per set.

Larson Setting the Bar High

– One weekend after taking over second on the Mustangs all-time career assist leaderboard, Megan Larson, continued to raise her career average (she averaged 13.29 a/set in the Colo. Premier) on the way to becoming the SMSU all-time career assist leader in the win over No. 8 Ferris State.

– Larson had the second most assists (1,517) and assists per set (12.86) for a single season in program history in 2016.

Reiss Attacking the Record Books

– Reiss became the 14th player in program history to surpass the 1,000 career kills milestone in the Mustangs win over No. 1 Concordia-St. Paul.

– Reiss now sits just 96 kills away from moving into the Mustangs’ top-10 in career kills.

– Reiss had 35 kills vs. Lewis (Ill.) last season, breaking the program record for kills in a four-set match.

SMSU Conference Openers

– SMSU has won 3 of its last 4 four conference openers.

– The Mustangs are 8-5 under head coach Terry Culhane in conference openers.

– SMSU lost last season’s conference opener to Augustana in five sets.

SMSU Home

Openers

– SMSU has gone 10-7 in home openers since 2000.

– The Mustangs have lost the last two home openers after winning the previous five in a row from 2010-14.

– SMSU lost last season’s home opener to Augustana in five sets.

New Mustang Faces

– Freshman middle blocker, Sarina Smith, had 14 kills in the Mustangs win over No. 1 Concordia-St. Paul and now has double digit kills in four matches this season.

– Smith averaged 3.07 kills per set and had 17 total blocks last weekend.

– Freshman libero, Payton Hjerleid, averaged 2.86 digs per set in the Colo. Premier and also added 10 service aces while playing in all 14 sets over the weekend.

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