SMSU VOLLEYBALL: SMSU finishes at No. 8 in final AVCA poll of the year

LEXINGTON, Ky. – The Southwest Minnesota State women’s volleyball team ranked No. 8 in the final American Volleyball Coaches’ Association (AVCA) top-25 poll of the season, announced on Monday.

SMSU finished the season with a 23-9 record and a 15th consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance.

This is the 173rd consecutive poll, dating back to Sept. 5, 2006, in which the Mustangs have been featured in the Top-25. The Mustangs were ranked No. 7 in the previous poll released on Nov. 12.

SMSU defeated five other competitors ranked in the final top-25 poll this season. SMSU swept No. 2 Western Washington, No. 10 Northern State, No. 11 Wheeling Jesuit, and earned four-set victories over No. 5 Minnesota Duluth, and No. 6 Concordia-St. Paul.

SMSU was eliminated in the quarterfinal round of the NCAA Tournament, hosted by Nebraska-Kearney of the MIAA conference, with a 3-2 loss to Concordia-St. Paul.

All four NSIC teams to make the top-25 poll advanced to the NCAA tournament. Northern State and Southwest Minnesota State were both eliminated in the quarterfinals, where Northern State was defeated by Washburn, the tournament champions, in five-sets and SMSU was defeated by Concordia-St. Paul in five-sets. Washburn swept Minnesota Duluth in the semifinals and eliminated CSP in five-sets in the championship match to secure its spot in the Elite 8.

Taylor Reiss was the lone Mustang to earn AVCA All-American honors. Reiss earned All-America first team and was the recipient of the AVCA National Player of the Year, CCA Player of the Year, and CCA Central Region Player of the Year.

Reiss has now been honored as a first team All-American by the AVCA and the CCA for three consecutive seasons. She is the 22nd player in Division II history be an AVCA first team All-American three times.

Reiss finished her senior season leading SMSU in kills (664), while hitting .306 (664-151-1,676) with 394 digs, 69 blocks and 34 service aces.

Reiss had 20 or more kills in 19 matches, which included five 30-plus kill matches. She was twice named the Sports Imports/AVCA National Player of the Week this season (Sept. 25, Oct. 23).

Reiss finished her four-year career ranking second in team history in kills (2,146), second in kills per set (4.94), second in attempts (5,293), second in points (2,431.5) and ninth in hitting percentage (.309).

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