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Mustangs overpower Augie in volleyball



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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – The No. 10 ranked Southwest Minnesota State volleyball team opened Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference play tonight with a 3-1 victory over previously unbeaten Augustana College in Sioux Falls, S.D. SMSU won by scores of 25-12, 25-23, 21-25 and 25-21.

SMSU (6-3, 1-0 NSIC) was led by McKell Anderson, who recorded career-high tying 18 kills and a career-high 20 digs, while Abbey Thissen added 14 kills. Rachel Westby led the SMSU defense tying a career-high with 28 digs with Emilee Gutzmer finishing with 50 assists to help pace the offense. The Mustangs finished the night hitting .181 (59-26-182), while limiting the Vikings to a .158 (42-16-165) hitting percentage.

SMSU has now won 14 straight over Augustana, with the Vikings’ last victory coming on Sept. 21, 2004. Prior to SMSU’s current winning streak in the series, Augustana had won 25 straight over SMSU from 1987 to 2004.

SMSU jumped out to an early lead in set one, reeling off nine straight points, to build a 16-5 lead and never looked back in taking set one 25-12. The Mustangs hit .300 as a team in the opening set and limited the Vikings to a .000 hitting percentage.

Augustana led for a majority of set two, including building leads of 18-14 and 22-19, before SMSU mounted a furious rally. Back-to-back kills by Thissen and an Augustana hitting error tied the score at 22. Following an SMSU service error, the Mustangs closed the set with three straight points behind a kill from Sarah Parker, a service ace by Westby and a set-clinching kill by Thissen.

In set three, SMSU built an early 9-5 lead - keyed behind three kills by Anderson - before Augustana earned 12 of the next 16 points to take a 17-13 advantage. SMSU cut the lead to 18-17, before five straight points by Augustana pushed the margin to 23-17 and helped the Vikings win the set 25-21.

SMSU trailed 15-13 in set four, before answering with six straight points, capped by back-to-back kills by Whitney Burmeister and Claire Sames to build a 19-15 lead. Augustana cut the deficit to 21-20, but a kill by Sames and an attack error by the Vikings pushed the SMSU lead 23-20, before Thissen closed the match with a kill to secure the victory at 25-21.

Sames finished with 11 kills and hit .219, with Burmeister chipping in with 10 kills and 23 digs.

Southwest Minnesota State opens its home season on Saturday afternoon at the PE Gym taking on No. 7 and undefeated Wayne State (9-0, 1-0 NSIC) starting at 4 p.m.
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