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SMSU VOLLEYBALL: No. 10 SMSU heads east for matches with Winona State and Upper Iowa

Independent file photo SMSU’s Sophie Johnson passes the ball during their match against the University of Mary last Saturday. SMSU will face Winona State and Upper Iowa this weekend.

MARSHALL — The No. 10 Southwest Minnesota State volleyball team (15-2 overall, 7-2 NSIC) hits the road this weekend, traveling to face Winona State and Upper Iowa.

The Mustangs will face Winona State on Friday at 6 p.m. before going to Upper Iowa for a match on Saturday at 5 p.m.

Series history

Winona State and SMSU will meet for the 101st time, with SMSU leading the series 67-32-1.

The first meeting took place in 1974, while their last meeting took place in October of 2019, when SMSU fell to WSU in three sets.

Upper Iowa and SMSU will meet for the 27th time, with SMSU leading the series 26-0.

The first meeting was in 2004 and the last meeting occurred on Oct. 4, 2019, with the Mustangs winning in three sets.

Fabulous freshmen

SMSU has received a boost from its youth in the first 18 games this season, with nine different freshmen seeing action, and six playing in at least ten sets.

The group is led by Emma VanHeel, who is third on the team with 140 kills, and is second on the team with 61 blocks, and Katelyn Nichols, who leads the team with 64 blocks, and is fourth on the team with 90 kills. Both VanHeel and Nichols have played in every set this season.

Sophie Johnson has played in 55 of 58 sets for the Mustangs, picking up 87 digs and 44 assists in twelve starts. Johnson averaged 17 assists per match over the weekend.

Halle Jansen has played in all 17 games for SMSU, collecting 37 kills, 31 digs and 11 blocks. She tallied a career-high eight kills on Oct. 8 against Minot State.

Saari Kuehl has played in 13 games and 23 sets for SMSU, with 24 kills and 12 digs.

Brooklyn Kusler put up a career-high seven kills while hitting .385 against Minot State on Oct. 8.

Mustang milestones

Payton Hjerleid became the 21st player in school history join the 1,000 dig club on Oct. 2 against Northern State.

Hjerleid also tied the school record for aces in a match, when she recorded eight in a sweep of Colorado School of Mines on Sept. 4.

Angela Young became the 15th player in Mustangs history to join the 1,000 kills club after her first kill on Oct. 9 against UMary.

Young currently ranks 11th in school history with 3.26 kills per set in her career.

Meg Schmidt committed a rare feat, collecting a triple-double with 15 kills, 13 digs, and 11 assists against UMary on Oct. 9.

Schmidt is one of 28 players in the nation to record a triple-double this season, and is the first player in school history to record a triple double in the last ten seasons

About Southwest

Minnesota State

The Mustangs opened the season with 11 straight victories, the second longest streak to start a season in program history.

SMSU has now won 36 consecutive sets against Minot State, and is 69-3 all time in sets against UMary.

Angela Young leads the Mustangs with 240 kills, with Meg Schmidt contributing 201 kills on a .319 hitting percentage.

The defense is anchored by Payton Hjerleid, who leads the team with 240 digs and Katelyn Nichols, who leads the Mustangs with 64 blocks.

Winona State preview

2021 Record: 16-2, 7-2

Head Coach: Joe Getzin, eighth season

Mascot: Warriors

AVCA Ranking: 8

Winona State Notes

The Warriors went 2-1 on the week, defeating Concordia-St. Paul 3-1 in non-conference action before defeating Minnesota Duluth 3-1 Friday and falling to St. Cloud State 3-2 on Saturday.

Winona State has begun the season 16-2, and 3-1 against ranked teams.

The Warriors were picked to finish fifth in the NSIC Preseason Coaches Poll.

Winona State is lead by NSIC Preseason Player of the Year Megan Flom, who has tallied 246 kills and 53 blocks in 18 matches this season, and Becca Pagel, who leads the team with 309 digs.

Upper Iowa preview

2021 Record: 13-5, 6-3

Head Coach: Aaron Nelson, 11th season

Mascot: Peacocks

Upper Iowa Notes

The Peacocks went 1-1 last week, losing in four sets to St. Cloud State 3-1 on Friday before defeating Minnesota Duluth 3-1 on Saturday.

UIU has begun the season 13-5, and is 1-3 against ranked teams.

The Peacocks were picked to finish ninth in the NSIC Preseason Coaches Poll.

UIU is lead by Madelyn Rettler, who has tallied 162 kills and 171 digs in 18 matches this season, and Charisma Herr, who leads the team with 281 digs.

— Content courtesy

of SMSU Athletic Communications

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