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SMSU Mustangs edge upstart USF Cougars in NSIC volleyball

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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – The No. 9 ranked Southwest Minnesota State volleyball team survived a scare on Tuesday night holding on for a thrilling 3-2 road victory over the University of Sioux Falls. SMSU won by scores of 23-25, 25-14, 25-22, 22-25, 15-13.

SMSU extends its season-high winning streak to four in a row and improves to 8-3 overall, 3-0 NSIC, while USF drops to 8-3 overall, 1-2 NSIC. Whitney Burmeister led the Mustangs with a career-high 19 kills, hitting .362, and added 19 digs for her team-leading eighth double-double of the season. Claire Sames also had a career night for SMSU recording a career-high 19 kills, while hitting. 452. Rachel Westby added 19 digs to pace the SMSU defense, while McKell Anderson added 11 digs.

SMSU ended the match hitting .207 (65-29-174) with eight service aces and eight blocks. USF hit .223 (55-22-148) with five aces and 11 blocks. The teams played a tight opening set before USF opened a 20-20 tie with three straight points and held off a late SMSU charge to earn a 25-23 win. In set two, SMSU jumped to a 7-2 lead and never looked back in evening the match. Sames led the way for the Mustangs in the set racking up seven kills, including securing five of SMSU’s final eight points in SMSU’s 25-14 win.

Set three was a battle throughout before SMSU broke away late to earn the victory. Jessica Theleman snapped a 20-20 tie with a kill and following a USF error, Abbey Thissen pushed the lead to 23-20 with another kill. SMSU closed the set with kills from Burmeister and Sames to win 25-21. USF rebounded in set four, snapping an 11-11 tie with four straight points and held off a late SMSU charge to win the set 25-22 and force a fifth set.

As expected the fifth set was just as tight, with USF jumping to a 3-0 lead, before SMSU rebounded and grabbed an 8-6 advantage. The Cougars reeled off five of the next seven points to regain the lead at 11-10. Thissen recorded a kill to tie the set at 11, before USF went back in front with its own kill to take a 12-11 advantage. Sames tied the set with a kill before Ellen Degler came through with an ace serve to push SMSU in the lead at 13-12. USF answered with a kill to tie the score at 13, before Burmeister and Sames followed with back-to-back kills to give SMSU its second five-set victory this season.

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