No. 5 SMSU Takes Down St. Cloud State 3-2

10/17/2008

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ST. CLOUD, Minn. - Kasey Loeslie killed a match-high 21 balls to lead No. 5 Southwest Minnesota State to a 3-2 (25-8, 22-25, 25-12, 23-25, 15-7) conference victory over St. Cloud State Friday night in St. Cloud, Minn.

SMSU improves to 21-2 (10-1, NSIC), while St. Cloud State falls to 3-16 (1-10, NSIC).

A trio of Mustang hitters surpassed the double digit mark in kills, with Devin Diedrich posting 15 and Laura Hegerle adding another 13 to compliment Loeslie's 21.

Feeling the backlash of the injury bug, a new-look Mustang team took the court at SCSU's Halenbeck Hall.  A banged-up SMSU squad moved its libero, Sara Quiram, to a hitter spot, allowing Brittany Wenzel to take over the senior's position.  Cara Carson also saw her share of time in the back row, a change of scenery for the setter.

Wenzel finished the night with a match-high 27 digs, while Quiram was still able to add 22 from her hitter position.

Sara Graf dished out a match-high 54 assists and also added five kills.
 
The Mustangs broke out of the gates at full speed, quickly building a double-digit lead that the Huskies had no chance of chipping away at.  Having difficulties passing throughout the first set, SCSU struggled to get its offense in a rhythm--giving SMSU optimal opportunities to get its offense in system off a number of free balls.

The Mustang stampede, however, was short-lived, as the Huskies opened the second set looking like an entirely different team.  After establishing a four-point lead at the midway point of the second set, SCSU held off several attempts by SMSU to tie the set and kept its hold on the lead.

With the match knotted at 1-1, the Mustangs rallied around Loeslie as the Huskies seemed to have no answer for the senior's lightning quick-attack off of Graf's sets.  Another double-digit lead appeared in SMSU's favor, and the visiting team's reignited offense did not allow it to disappear.

But as they did in the second set, the Huskies took the floor in the fourth set with a sense of urgency.  Leading late in the set, SMSU was unable to counter a surge from SCSU's offense and allowed the Huskies to take a decisive lead off a Jennifer Waterman tip.

With the match on the line, the Mustangs went to work, grabbing an eight point lead that gave them the set and match.
 
A strong wall in SMSU's front row was key in the victory as SMSU finished the match with a 14-8 blocking advantage.

SMSU finishes off its weekend road set tomorrow when it takes on No. 1 Concordia-St. Paul at 5 p.m.  The match features the Central Region's top two teams and a pair of top-five nationally ranked teams.

Article courtesy of Southwest Minnesota State athletics.

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