SMSU VOLLEYBALL: Bulldogs knock out Mustangs, 3-0
MARSHALL – The Southwest Minnesota State University Mustangs could never swing the momentum to their side Friday night during the Central Region Semifinals. Behind a strong defensive performance the University of Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs swept the Mustangs in front of a packed crowd inside the PE Gym.
“I have to congratulate UMD,” SMSU coach Terry Culhane said. “They played really well. They didn’t give us a lot of opportunity to breath. Losing is never fun, especially at this time of the year. There is only one team that gets to win at the end. We are disappointed and felt like we had chances. I just think UMD made more little plays than we did. I think you have to give credit where credit is due.”
The first set was a back and forth affair with neither team able to go on a run. The biggest lead of the set was three when UMD went up 24-21. The Bulldogs went on to win the opening set 25-21.
Brooke Borchardt and Kaylee Burmeister both recorded four kills in the opening set for the Mustangs. Taylor Reiss added three kills.
It was all UMD in the second set. The Bulldogs took a 7-3 lead and never let up en route to a convincing 25-15 set victory.
“In volleyball if you can be the aggressor and push the game you tend to be more successful,” Culhane said. “I thought they defended really well. They kept balls alive. I think we got rattled a little bit.”
The Bulldogs raced out to an 8-2 lead in the third set and appeared to be on their way to another convincing victory. The Mustangs answered back by going on a 13-6 run to take a 15-14 lead. Unfortunately for the Mustangs that would be the last lead they’d hold as the Bulldogs went on to win the third set 25-23.
“There wasn’t a lot of difference between set one and set three,” Culhane said. “When we played them here earlier in the year it was very much the same thing.”
The match was the final match in a Mustang uniform for seniors, Megan Larson, Brooke Borchardt and Greta Geist.
“They all have unique stories,” Culhane said. “This all started with these guys four years ago with Greta having cancer and us being in Duluth and winning the regional.”
Culhane called Geist one of the best teammates he’s ever had the privilege of coaching.
“Greta is one of thee best teammates that I’ve ever coached,” he said. “I’ve done this a lot of years. She knew she didn’t have a lot of chances to play. She was as much of a leader on our team as you could find for somebody that didn’t get on the floor very much. She practiced everyday and gathered the troops when we needed it. They don’t get much better than her.”
Larson goes down as one of the most accomplished players to ever don a Mustang uniform. She’s the program’s all-time leader in assists and recorded 31 in her final match.
“I don’t know how many set assists she has, but we’ve counted on her and depended on her for the better part of four years,” Culhane said. “There is no doubt in my mind that she just loves volleyball. This is a hard day for her. Megan would love to play volleyball for another four years. She’s had a wonderful career and been a great player.”
Borchardt didn’t receive much playing time during her first three years campus. When it was her time to contribute she was ready.
“Brooke has weathered the four years,” Culhane said. “She’s had a really good year this year. She’s won individual awards and was a big part of our team this year. Now days kids aren’t going to hang around if they are not playing all the time. She did and I don’t know how you can have a better senior year. She really had a good senior year and did a lot of good things.”
SMSU 23 15 23
UMD 25 25 25
Serving (Ace): SMSU (Reiss, Burmeister 2).
Kills: SMSU (Reiss, Burmeister 10; Borchardt 7).
Digs: SMSU (Reiss 14).
Set Assists: SMSU (Larson 31).
Blocks: SMSU (Smith 2).