The Southwest Minnesota State volleyball team’s record breaking season ended on Friday evening at the hands of Nebraska-Kearney as the Mustangs fell in four sets, 21-25, 18-25, 28-26, 14-25.
In the first set, SMSU looked to hit deep into the Loper defense to combat their packed in defensive set-up. SMSU’s hitters would miss on numerous occasions, leading to its 10 errors and .077 attacking percentage in the set. SMSU never led in the match and only managed three ties. The Mustangs tried to rally late with a nicely placed kill down the line by Devin Diedrich to close the gap to 20-18. Out of the timeout, UNK would respond with a momentum swinging block to push the lead to 21-18 and the Lopers would surge to a 25-21 set victory.
SMSU came out flat to open up the second set as they fell into a 6-1 hole. Looking for a spark, head coach Terry Culhane turned to his bench and put in Claire Sames and Ellen Degler. The spark didn’t come as the Loper lead would grow to six points as the score stood 12-6. UNK continued to put pressure on SMSU and the Mustangs caved as the Lopers took the second set 25-18 and a 2-0 lead into the third set.
UNK many opportunities to take the match in the third set as the Lopers failed to convert on all four match points. SMSU fended the Lopers late and converted on its first chance to take the set as Abbey Thissen had a clutch kill to push the match into the fourth set, 28-26.
In the fourth set, SMSU stuttered out of the gate and head coach Terry Culhane was forced to use both of his timeouts with the set at 11-7. Out of the timeout, the Lopers would push the lead to 13-7 and wouldn’t look back from there as UNK would take the fourth set and match by a set score of 25-14.
SMSU ends the season 30-3, its most wins in a season since 1991.
Courtesy: Adam Henning, Assistant Athletic Communications Director, Southwest Minnesota State University