KEARNEY, Neb. – No. 9 Southwest Minnesota State will be making its first appearance in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament after a 3-1 win over Colorado School of Mines on Friday night. The Mustangs, seeded fifth in the Central Region, used 23 kills from Mary Groth and 20 from Brooke Burmeister to defeat Colorado Mines 22-25, 25-16, 25-22, 25-17.

SMSU improves to 25-6 on the season while Colorado Mines finishes its season 19-11. The Orediggers were coming off a five-set win against top-seeded and tournament host Nebraska-Kearney on Thursday.

Groth connected on 23 kills picking up a .340 attack percentage in the match. Burmeister hit .333 percent in the match helping the Mustangs improve their hitting efficiency in the match.

The Orediggers finished the match with nine team blocks, including one solo and 16 block assists. Holly Hutchison finished with five block assists and nine kills. CSM was led by Jackie Stabell offensively. She finished with a team-high 14 kills.

Rachel Westby and Brittany Wenzel led the Mustangs defensively. Westby finished with 15 digs while Wenzel added 12.

Southwest Minnesota State started out the first set strong taking a 7-2 lead. The Orediggers battled back to tie the set at 10-10 in the middle of a four-point run. CSM would hold the lead until the Mustangs were able to put together a five-point run to take a 19-18 lead.

The Orediggers then took seven of the next 10 points to win the first set 25-22. CSM hit .229 in the first set, using a balanced offensive attack. The Mustangs hit just .103 in the first set committing eight errors and picking up 12 kills.

Colorado School of Mines benefitted from four team blocks in the first set. Hutchison led the Orediggers with three block assists in the first set.

The Mustangs jumped out to a 6-1 lead to start the second set behind the serve of Westby. Groth teamed up with Degler and Burmeister for a pair of block assists to help the Mustangs take early control of the set. After a timeout by CSM, SMSU would push its lead to 8-1.

Southwest Minnesota State led the entire way in the second set earning a 25-16 victory. Stabell kept the Orediggers alive in the second set connecting on three connsecutive kills to come within three points at 15-12 SMSU.

With a 20-16 lead in the second, SMSU closed out the set on a five-point run ending with Groth’s 12 kill of the match. SMSU was much improved in the second set, finishing with just three errors and a.426 attack percentage while holding the Orediggers to a .148 attack percentage.

The Mustangs and the Orediggers traded points early in the third set playing to a 5-5 tie. After a kill by Wanamaker, the Mustangs went on a four-point run to take a 9-6 lead. Following another kill by Stabell, the Mustangs took three straight points, including back-to-back points by Groth.

Mines put together a four-point run to come within one at 16-15. The Mustangs were able to hold the lead until the Orediggers took five of six points to take a 22-21 lead. Burmeister connected on two kills during a four-point run to close out the set for the Mustangs 25-22.