SMSU VOLLEYBALL: No. 13 Mustangs look to add to late-season momentum with a pair of matches
MARSHALL — The Southwest Minnesota State volleyball team (17-4 overall, 9-4 NSIC) looks to continue their late season momentum, traveling to face Sioux Falls before coming home to play No. 11 Wayne State.
-The Mustangs will take on Sioux Falls Thursday at 6 p.m. before welcoming Wayne State into the PE Gym at 1 p.m. on Saturday.
-Sioux Falls and SMSU will meet for the 18th time, with SMSU leading the series 16-2.
-The first meeting took place in 1981, while their last meeting took place in October of 2019, when SMSU defeated Sioux Falls in three sets.
-Wayne State and SMSU will meet for the 61st time, with WSC leading the series 30-29-1.
-The first meeting was in 1980 and the last meeting occurred on Nov. 5, 2019, with the Mustangs falling to WSC in three sets.
-SMSU has received a boost from its youth in the first 21 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 175 kills, and is second on the team with 78 blocks, and Katelyn Nichols, who leads the team with 82 blocks, and is fourth on the team with 110 kills. Both VanHeel and Nichols have played in every set this season.
-Sophie Johnson has played in 72 of 75 sets for the Mustangs, picking up 110 digs and 118 assists in 14 starts. Johnson averaged 21.5 assists per match over the weekend. She picked up a career-high 26 assists to help beat No. 5 Concordia-St. Paul on Saturday.
-Halle Jansen has played in all 21 games for SMSU, collecting 59 kills, 40 digs and 15 blocks.
-Saari Kuehl tallied four kills and a block while playing in all three sets against Minnesota State on Friday.
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 beat Minnesota State for the first time since Oct. 27, 2018, while defeating Concordia-St. Paul for the first time since Oct. 26, 2018.
-Angela Young leads the Mustangs with 319 kills and 4.25 kills per set, with Meg Schmidt contributing 262 kills on a .332 hitting percentage.
-The defense is anchored by Payton Hjerleid, who leads the team with 310 digs and Katelyn Nichols, who leads the Mustangs with 82 blocks.
-SMSU can be found all over the top 70 in national statistics.
-SMSU ranks 11th in the country in hitting percentage with a .267 percentage, and is 15th in the country in kills per set with a 13.95 average.
-The Mustangs also rank 33rd in opponents hitting percentage, limiting the opposition to a microscopic .134 percentage.
-The defense has also been a strength thanks to the 28th most blocks per set and 36th most total blocks in the nation.
-The service line has also been a strength for SMSU, ranking 43rd in aces per set at 1.92, while the attack has been lifted with the 37th best assists per set total in the country with 12.41.
Mustangs on the leaderboards
-Five separate players find themselves in the top 80 across the NCAA leaderboards five weeks into the season.
-Angela Young slots in 10th in kills per set, 12th in kills, 12th in points per set, and 54th in total attacks.
-Meg Schmidt currently ranks 37th in points per set, 67th in kills, 71st in kills per set and 79th in hitting percentage.
-She also is one of 29 players in the nation to record a triple-double.
-Katelyn Nichols ranks 35th in blocks per set, and is 39th in total blocks.
-Emma VanHeel is 60th in blocks, while ranking 64th in blocks per set.
-Rachel Fink ranks 80th in total aces.
2021 Record: 13-8, 8-5
Head Coach: Dan Mathews, first season
Sioux Falls Notes
-The Cougars went 1-1 on the week, getting swept by then No. 5 Concordia-St. Paul on Friday before taking down Minnesota State in three sets.
-Sioux Falls is 13-8 on the season and 1-3 against ranked teams.
-The Cougars were picked to finish 11th in the NSIC Preseason Coaches Poll.
-Sioux Falls is led by Avery Yakisch, who has tallied 330 kills and 188 digs in 21 matches this season, and Jordan Kuper, who leads the team with 80 blocks.
2021 Record: 17-4, 10-3
Head Coach: Scott Kneifl, 17th season
AVCA Ranking: 11
Wayne State Notes
-The Wildcats went 1-1 last week, defeating Upper Iowa in three sets on Friday before dropping a five-set thriller to then No. 12 Winona State on Saturday.
-WSC has begun the season 17-4, and is 4-4 against ranked teams.
-The Wildcats were picked to finish tied for fifth in the NSIC Preseason Coaches Poll.
-WSC is led by Kelsie Cada, who has tallied 231 kills and 214 digs in 21 matches this season, and Alaina Wolff, who leads the team with 225 digs.
— Content courtesy
of SMSU Athletic