SMSU Swept In Central Region Final
Concordia-St. Paul Advances To Elite Eight
The Mustangs had 39 digs as a team in three sets but couldn’t find enough offense against a tough Concordia-St. Paul defense as the top seeded Golden Bears defeated Southwest Minnesota State 25-23, 25-12, 25-21 on Saturday night in the Gangelhoff Center.
Taylor Reiss, Eisha Oden, and Megan Larson were each recognized post match for being named to this year’s NCAA Central Region All-Tournament team. In the Mustangs’ three matches, Reiss and Oden led the Mustangs attack with 53 and 44 kills respectively.
Sarah Parker finishes her Mustang volleyball career ranked fifth all-time in career hitting percentage (.316) while Oden leaves the program in first place in that category (.347).
SMSU defeated Wayne State and Augustana on its way to the championship match hitting .264 as a team and 16.4 digs per set in the tournament.
The Mustangs came out strong in the championship match as they raced to a 9-3 lead and looked like they might easily earn its first opening set win of the tournament. CSP’s defense made it difficult for SMSU to pull away however as the Golden Bears put together a 10-2 run to take a 13-11 lead before the Mustangs could respond. The set would remain tightly contested through the finish as the game was all square at 23-23 but back-to-back kills from Emma Lange gave the Golden Bears the first set win 25-23.
SMSU again struggled to find an answer for tough defending from Concordia-St. Paul finishing the second set with a negative hitting percentage as the Golden Bears took a 2-0 lead with a 25-12 win in set two.
The two sides went back and forth again to start the third as the set was tied at 11-11 but the Golden Bears would put together an 8-1 run to go up 19-12. SMSU then went on a 4-1 run of its own to trip the CSP lead to 20-16. CSP responded with a 4-1 run to give themselves match point at 24-17. SMSU fought back to fend off four consecutive match points but a final kill from Lange gave CSP the 25-21 win in the set and a 3-0 victory.
The Mustangs (28-6) finish the season with the most wins for an SMSU team since 2012 (30) and will look ahead to next season after finishing the season atop the Northern Sun Conference.