No. 2 seed Southwest Minnesota State captured the program's first-ever Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference Tournament championship on Sunday afternoon in St. Paul, Minn., defeating top-seeded Concordia-St. Paul 3-2.
SMSU, which receives the NSIC's automatic bid to the NCAA Central Region Tournament beginning Nov. 29, won by scores of 25-19, 25-20, 12-21, 21-25 and 15-10. SMSU will be making its ninth straight NCAA appearance and 10th in school history.
SMSU (29-2) entered the week ranked No. 2 in the national Top 25 poll and No. 2 in the NCAA Region poll, while CU (27-4) was ranked No. 1 in both polls. CU beat SMSU twice during the regular season.
The official announcement of the 64-team NCAA Tournament and eight regional sites will be announced at 9 p.m. CST tonight at ncaa.com.
On Sunday, it was a balanced attack that led the way for SMSU in earning its first win at Concordia since Sept. 22, 2007. Abby Thissen pounded a team-high 15 kills and hit .393 to lead the Mustangs, while Brooke Burmeister added 14 kills and 13 digs. Mary Groth added 13 kills and hit .357, while McKell Anderson and Devin Diedrich each chipped in with 12 kills.
Emilee Gutzmer recorded 48 assists and 16 digs for the Mustangs, while Rachel Westby racked up a team-high 24 digs.
SMSU finished the match hitting .251 with nine team blocks.
Emily Duffy finished with a match-high 19 kills to lead the Golden Bears.
In the deciding fifth set, SMSU took an early 5-3 lead following back-to-back errors by CU, highlighted by a block by SMSU's Gutzmer. Following a kill by CU, SMSU answered with five straight points with Burmeister and Thissen each recording two kills during the run.
CU trimmed the lead to 11-7 later in the set, forcing an SMSU timeout, but the Mustangs held off the late Golden Bear run and closed out the victory with a kill from Burmeister.
The match featured 26 ties and 10 lead changes.
Courtesy: SMSU Athletics