SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (SMSU) – The Southwest Minnesota State volleyball team (21-8) saw their season come to a close Thursday night, falling to the top-seeded St. Cloud State Huskies 25-20, 25-13, 25-19 in the first round of the NSIC Tournament at the Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls, S.D.
The match would be the final one in the legendary career of Terry Culhane. He will finish as the 14thwinningest coach all-time in win percentage. His 431-123 record and 258-66 record in conference play are the most in program history. In her final match as a Mustang, Angela Young would lead the way offensively, collecting 18 kills and 13 digs, her eighth double-double of the season. Payton Hjerleid would also take the floor for the final time in her SMSU career, collecting 19 digs to lead the defense.
Neither team could create separation early, as the first 18 points would be split between the two to bring the score to 9-9. St. Cloud State would become a pain at the net, sending Mustang attacks back over and over for three straight points to force an SMSU timeout. The Huskies would come out of the timeout with a service error before an Emma VanHeel kill would cut the SCSU lead to 12-11. With a 14-12 lead, SCSU would again become pests at the net, creating errors to take a 17-13 lead and force SMSU to use their second timeout. SCSU would score five of the next seven points to grow their lead to 22-15. With SCSU leading 24-16, SMSU would show signs of life with four straight points, including Young’s seventh kill of the set, but SCSU would deliver a kill to take set one.
SCSU would enter the second set with fire, scoring four of the first five points and eight of the first 11 to jump to an 8-3 lead and force an SMSU timeout. The Huskies would continue their dominance, scoring 14 of 20 points to grow their lead to 22-9. The Huskies would close out the set with three of the final seven points to take a 2-0 lead.
SCSU continued their fire into the third set, again scoring eight of the first 11 points to force an SMSU timeout. The Huskies would continue pouring it on, picking up five straight points to jump to a 13-3 lead. Down 19-8, SMSU would begin their climb back, scoring seven of eight points to trim the SCSU lead to 20-15 and force the Huskies to use their first timeout of the night. After a Halle Jansen kill to make it 22-18 SCSU, the Huskies would seal the match with three of four points.
SCSU won the game at the net, outblocking SMSU 12-3 and making every attack difficult for the Mustangs. The teams would each pick up 38 digs, but SCSU would outhit SMSU .303-.107.
St. Cloud State will advance to the semifinals on Friday night at 7 p.m.