Nov. 21, 2008

Courtesy of Suthwest Minnesota State Athletics

ST. PAUL, MINN. – Laura Hegerle, Kasey Loeslie and Devin Diedrich spearheaded a three-headed hitting attack to lead No. 7 Southwest Minnesota State to a 3-1 (25-18, 20-25, 25-17, 25-18) win over Metro State (Colo.) Thursday afternoon in the first round of the NCAA tournament in St. Paul, Minn.

SMSU improves to 28-5, while MSC finishes its season with an 18-10 mark.

SMSU’s The three-fold offensive force saw Loeslie finish with 12 kils, Hegerle with 11 and Diedrich with 10.   Cara Carson added seven kills to round out a balanced hitting effort for the Mustangs.

Sara Graf spread the ball to several hitters all afternoon, finishing with a match-high 38 assists.

Sarah Quiram led the Mustang defensive effort and dug up a match-high 24 balls.

In the somewhat familiar confines of Concordia University, St. Paul’s Gangelhoff Center, Hegerle led her squad with an impressive hitting performance in the first set that included five kills off just seven swings from the senior.  Her efficiency gave SMSU a comfortable lead—and one MSC failed to chip away at—in the closing moments.

The Mustang hitting machine went idle in the ensuing set as SMSU posted a meager .070 hitting percentage.  The Roadrunners counter was an offensive burst of their own.  MSC used solid hitting to take a six-point lead at 20-14, but SMSU did manage to close that gap to two at 21-19.  A Carson serve that would have put the Mustangs within one fell short, allowing the Roadrunners to coast to their final points.

MSC’s serving served as the momentum killer in the third set.  The Mustangs capitalized on the Roadrunners’ sloppy play from behind the service line and stretched their lead to a comfortable one.  A Carson kill at 24-17 sealed the set.

An error filled hitting campaign by MSC paired with a precision hitting by SMSU set took the Mustangs to the final points in the fourth and final set with relative ease. 

MSC put two hitters over the 10-kill mark as Emily Greenhalgh and Bri Morley each had 13 kills.  MSC’s Darcy Schwartzman finished with 36 assists, and Amy Watanabe grabbed 24 digs.

SMSU will meet Minnesota Duluth, the No. 3 seed in the Central Region, in the semifinals tomorrow at 5:30 p.m.  The Mustangs split with the Bulldogs earlier this season.