SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (September 24, 2013) – In its second straight five-set match, the University of Sioux Falls volleyball team won the first and fourth sets but lost, 3-2 to No. 9 Southwest Minnesota State University on Tuesday night in the Stewart Center. Set scores were 25-23, 14-25, 22-25, 25-22, 13-15.
The Cougars fell to 8-3 (1-2, NSIC) while the Mustangs improved to 8-3 (3-0).
USF had three players with double-figure kills, led by sophomore Michelle Ritland's 14 terminations. The Hampton (Iowa) native also tallied a match-best .462 attack clip (14-2-26). Junior Emily Johnson had her second straight double-double with 12 kills and 10 digs while Samantha Lovell added 10 kills in limited action.
Senior setter Alexa Reed filled up the stat box with 42 assists, four kills, four digs and two blocks and Andrea Odbert dug out 16 Mustang attacks.
The Cougars got the first point of the match from a Ritland stab before the Mustangs tied it and moved in front 7-5 with consecutive kills. USF quickly battled back thanks to Kate Hart, who went kill-kill-kill with Reed serving to give the Cougars the 8-7 advantage. SMSU tied it and kept the contest close as neither team managed to maintain a dominant lead in the set. It wasn't until Lovell and Ritland stepped up with a huge block that USF was propelled to a 23-20 lead. The Mustangs trimmed the deficit to one at 24-23, but Johnson and Lovell teamed up for the set-clinching stuff. Ritland had three kills and hit a blistering .750 in the set.
The Mustangs jumped out to a 10-5 lead in the second set thanks in large part to a combination of four USF attack and service errors. From that point, it was all SMSU as a barrage of kills began to rain on USF. The Cougars trailed 16-11 but were outscored 9-3 as SMSU tied the match at 1-1.
SMSU took the third set 25-22 despite hitting just .162. The Cougars were plagued by errors, racking up nine attack miscues to just 11 kills in the set (.062). A block by Lovell and Reed gave USF a 6-4 lead but the margin vanished after three straight errors. USF fell behind 12-9 but rallied and retook the lead at 16-15 with another Reed rejection. SMSU tied it and the sides traded the next eight points. With the set tied at 20, the Mustangs finally wore the Cougars down and took five of the next seven points to take a 2-1 lead in the match.
The Cougars battled back from the brink thanks to the outstanding play of Ritland and Lovell. Both recorded four kills and were blemish-free in set four, with Ritland hitting .571 and Lovell swinging at a .444 attack clip. With the set knotted at 11, USF went on a 4-0 run that was punctuated with a Lovell stuff to force the Mustangs into a timeout. The break proved ineffective for the visitors; SMSU never regained the lead and the Cougars' sent the match to a decisive fifth set with a Reed kill.
The Cougars took the first three points of the fifth set on a kill from Johnson, Jordan Calef ace and SMSU attack error but the Mustangs answered by taking six of the next eight points. USF tied it with a Reed kill and the set went back and forth until the Cougars failed to cover a serve and mental mistake turned into an ace and 13-12 lead for SMSU. A Johnson termination tied it at 13, but the Mustangs scored the final two points to preserve the win.
USF hit .223 for the match and outblocked the Mustangs 11-8. SMSU had 63 digs and a .207 hitting percentage. The Cougars will host MSU-Moorhead on Friday.