SIOUX FALLS, SD -- No. 1 Southwest Minnesota State (19-1, 11-1 NSIC) fought off rallies in both the second and third sets to defeat the University of Sioux Falls at home, 3-0 (25-12, 25-21, 25-21), Tuesday night in front of 214 fans at the Stewart Center.

After struggling through the opening frame, the Cougars (10-11; 2-10, NSIC) recovered to trail by only four points late in the second set. The Mustangs earned the sideout on a USF service error and held serve at 24-19, but USF erased two set points on a Kellee Griese kill and a stuff by Samantha Lovell and Emily Johnson to force a SMSU timeout. The Mustangs would put the set away on the next point to take the 2-0 lead heading into the break.
 
Following the tough second set, the Mustangs jumped in front 4-1 before the Cougars went on a 4-0 run that included two Griese kills to hold the 5-4 advantage. SMSU regained the lead on back-to-back USF attack errors but the Cougars tied the frame at 8-8 with a Griese service ace. The Mustangs took five of the next six points and led throughout the third set, extending the margin to four at 18-14 and drawing a timeout from USF head coach Joel McCartney.
 
USF refused to go quietly on its home court and battled to cut the deficit to one point at 20-19, but SMSU took four of the next five to hold match point at 24-20. After a crucial side out, the Cougars were unable to complete the comeback and dropped the final set 25-21.
 

Griese powered USF with a team-high seven kills to go with three digs and an ace. Johnson posted six kills, two aces and three digs while Minchow connected on five kills with a .200 attack percentage. Lovell posted a match-high six blocks (three solo).

USF closed the match hitting .111 as a team after totaling 16 attacking errors. Sarah Kohler also connected on five kills for the Cougars.
 

Despite the loss, the Cougars showed signs of improvement as they out-blocked the Mustangs 8-3, and committed fewer attack errors than the visitors.

Andrea Odbert anchored the USF backline with nine digs while Sarah Jundt recorded three off the bench. Alexa Reed dished 22 assists to go along with four digs and two block assists.
 
USF hosts Minot State on Friday at 7 p.m. Friday night is also USF Volleyball Alumni Night.
Courtesy:  University of Sioux Falls