Meet the giant killers of DII volleyball.
Fresh off an upset of then-No. 1 Northern State, the Mustangs took down new No. 1 Concordia-St. Paul 3-1 just six days later.
While it is an upset on paper with Southwest Minnesota State ranked No. 12 this week, this Mustangs roster is loaded with talent. Let's take a look at this Mustangs team grabbing the attention of the DII volleyball world.
Mustangs beat No 1 again !!! pic.twitter.com/vFxSDzcccq— SMSU Athletics (@SMSUMustangs) October 27, 2018
Taylor Reiss is a superstar
Speaking of giant killers, Reiss is just that. She led all players with 32 kills in the upset to raise her DII leading total to an astounding 541, an average of 5.95 per set. The senior recorded her 2,000th career kill as well, the second player in program history to do so. Reiss also led the way with 29 kills against Northern State a week ago, and clearly shines when it matters most. She was the first five-time winner of the DII National Player of the Week last week and may become the first six-time winner after her strong performance against the Golden Bears. The reigning AVCA DII Player of the Year is making a strong case to repeat and is doing it against the best teams in the country.
Congratulations to Taylor Reiss on 2,000 Career Kills! 🏐👀💪🏼 @smsuvolleyball #LetsRide🐴 pic.twitter.com/04g7Yh5DPr— SMSU Athletics (@SMSUMustangs) October 26, 2018
The Mustangs haven't simply defeated two No. 1 teams in a row. They have completely dominated them. Though they were tightly-contested battles, Southwest Minnesota State was able to take down the Wolves in straight sets last week. This week against the Golden Bears, the Mustangs went down 1-0 after Concordia handed them a convincing 25-18 loss in Set 1. The next three sets, however, went to Southwest Minnesota State, all in convincing fashion, 25-19, 25-15, and 25-18. The two wins get the Mustangs to 13-4 in a close Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference and give them a huge win in a brutal Central Region.
#⃣1⃣6⃣ @SMSUMustangs sweep #⃣1⃣ Northern State in #NSICVB Action.— NSIC (@NorthernSunConf) October 20, 2018
Taylor Reiss w/ 29 kills, hitting .448@NCAADII @AVCAVolleyball #NSICAllAccess @SMSUVolleyball
More info at:https://t.co/rFveN2b0Gh pic.twitter.com/FcCv8CQRwW
Youth gone wild
Seniors Reiss and Kaylee Burmeister are invaluable to this team. Reiss is arguably the best player in DII volleyball, leading the team in kills, while Burmeister leads the team in both service aces and digs. But that is the start and end of the senior leadership on this team.
In fact, Southwest Minnesota State has just two juniors on the team as well. Sophomores Angela Young and Sarina Smith are breaking out in expanded roles this year, with Young second of the team in kills and Smith building off an All-NSIC freshman campaign, leading the team in blocks. Emma Thomssen has been invaluable as a setter, leading the team with 1,049 assists and earning a couple NSIC Setter of the Week honors in her sophomore campaign. Then there are the freshmen, led by Meg Schmidt who has been a balanced contributor, appearing in every match this season. There is no question that this team has youth and some nice depth on its side.
#NSICVB Release No. 3#NSICPOW— NSIC (@NorthernSunConf) September 10, 2018
O: #3 Brooklyn Lewis - Concordia-St. Paul
D: #4 Tarrin Beller - Wayne State
S: #5 Emma Thomssen - Southwest Minnesota Statehttps://t.co/Gq2vBz6gMB pic.twitter.com/X5QUDpruZR
The NSIC is a DII volleyball gauntlet in itself, putting quite the toll on its programs just to reach an even tougher Central Region. The Mustangs were able to jump four spots from No. 16 to No. 12 with last week's upset and should contend for the top 10 this coming Monday. Sitting at No. 6 in the Central Region this huge win over No. 1 Concordia is certain to grab attention. This is definitely a team to watch come November.