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SMSU VOLLEYBALL: SMSU announces three signings for 2019

MARSHALL – Southwest Minnesota State University head volleyball coach Terry Culhane announced the signing of three high school student-athletes to letters of intent to continue their academic and volleyball careers at SMSU.

Joining the program for the 2019 season will be Alisa Bengen (Janesville, Iowa), Rachel Fink (Rochester) and Lydia Sussner (Minneota).

Bengen, a 5-foot-9 setter from Janesville High School, was a four-year letter winner racking up 2,182 assists, 797 digs, 616 kills and 103 blocks in her career while earning first team all-state honors three straight seasons. As a senior, Bengen dished out 588 assists, added 357 kills and recorded 271 digs in leading Janesville to its fourth straight Class A state championship. She closed her career earning all-district honors three times, twice was named first team all-conference and was selected to play in the IGCA Senior All-Star match. Bengen, an Academic All-State honoree in both volleyball and basketball, was a three-year letter winner in basketball and played in the IGCA Senior All-Star game. She is also a multi-year letter winner in track & field.

“Alisa and her high school team experienced tremendous success,” Culhane said. “Alisa is a good athlete and played both hitter and setter in high school. Her work ethic and athleticism will be good additions to SMSU.”

Fink, a 5-foot-9 outside hitter from Rochester Century High School, was a five-year letter winner while racking school career records in both kills (909) and digs (1,368). A three-time all-conference honoree and team captain as a senior, Fink set the school single-season record with 330 kills as a senior while earning team MVP honors for the second straight year. An Academic All-State selection in volleyball, she is also a multi-year letter winner and all-conference honoree in softball.

“Rachel is a strong ball control player,” Culhane said. “We are excited to have Rachel’s overall skills in our program.”

Sussner, a 5-foot-10 middle blocker from Minneota High School, was a four-year letter winner and helped the Vikings win the 2018 Class A state championship while amassing 452 kills, 102 blocks and 87 digs. The 2018 Camden Conference Player of the Year, Sussner racked up 1,182 kills and 251 blocks while helping Minneota to a 112-20 record during her career. A two-time all-state honoree and one of five finalists for the Ms. Baden Volleyball award, Sussner was a standout in basketball as well, scoring more than 2,000 points and grabbing more than 1,000 rebounds in her career. Named the Marshall Independent Area Player of the Year in both volleyball and basketball, Sussner helped Minneota to the Class A basketball state championship in 2019.

“Lydia has won a great deal on her high school and club volleyball teams,” Culhane said. “She is a good competitor and has a quick arm. We look forward to have Lydia join the Mustangs.”

SMSU closed the 2018 season with a 23-9 overall record, appeared in its 15th straight NCAA Tournament and finished ranked No. 8 in the final American Volleyball Coaches Association Top 25 poll.

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