The Golden eagles kept the second and third sets close against an undefeated Mustangs team.

    The University of Minnesota Crookston volleyball team tested No. 1 Southwest Minnesota State University in the final two sets, but ultimately fell 3-0 (25-9, 25-20, 25-20). The match took place Sat., Sept. 23 at Lysaker Gymnasium.   

    Minnesota Crookston struggled in the first set as they allowed Southwest Minnesota State University to constantly be in system and were unable to slow down their attack as the Mustangs hit .500 for the match. The Golden Eagles made adjustments in the second and third sets and were able to execute their game plan, testing the nation’s No. 1 team, coming within five points in both sets.   

    Minnesota Crookston falls to 4-9 (1-4 NSIC) with Saturday’s loss. Southwest Minnesota State continues their great start to the season as they moved to 13-0 (5-0 NSIC).   

    The Golden Eagles were led by Kassi Green (R-Sr., OH, Anoka, Minn.), who continued her strong start to the season with 11 kills. Green hit .423 with no errors on the match. Kelci Green (R-Sr., MH, Anoka, Minn.) notched five kills, while Maggie Perrel (R-Sr., OH, New Germany, Minn.) had four kills and five errors on the day.   

    At setter, Kaycie Hagen (Sr., S, Savage, Minn.) notched 18 assists and guided the team to 21 kills with 14 errors and a .069 hitting percentage.   

    Defensively, Perrel led the team with 13 digs, while Hagen added 10. Ali Schueler (R-So., Lib., Howards Grove, Wis.) started the match at libero and had three digs. Becca Vandenheuvel (Sr., Lib., Cannon Falls, Minn.) moved into the libero role to open the second set and notched seven digs.   

    On the block, Minnesota Crookston looked to three block assists from Kelci Green (R-sr., MH, Anoka, Minn.), while Perrel tallied two block assists.   

    Southwest Minnesota State controlled the first set as they raced out to an 11-1 lead. The Mustangs would continue off their early momentum to win 25-9 as they hit .500 and limited the Golden Eagles to just three kills and a -.069 hitting percentage.   

    Minnesota Crookston held with the Mustangs early on and were able to knot up the set 9-9 on a Reiss attacking error. Southwest Minnesota State followed with a 4-0 run as they led 13-9 after a Perrel attack error. The Golden Eagles didn’t go away as they pulled within 18-16 on a bad set from Larson. Southwest Minnesota State would hold off Minnesota Crookston for a 25-20 victory to go up 2-0 in the match.   

    “In the first set we didn’t come out and attack them the way we wanted to,” Head Coach Sarah Rauen said. “In the next two sets, we followed our game plan and went after the things we wanted to and it affected what they were doing.”   

    The Mustangs got out to an 8-4 lead in the third set after an attack error from Hagen. The Golden Eagles pulled within 8-6 with a Burmeister attack error. The Golden Eagles stayed within striking distance as they were down just 16-13 after an attack error from Sarina Smith. However, Southwest Minnesota State used a 5-0 run to extend their lead to 21-13 with a powerful kill from Reiss. Minnesota Crookston came back within 22-18 with a service ace from Kassi Green. However, Southwest Minnesota State closed out the set for a 25-20 win with a kill from Burmeister.   

    “They were excited for this opportunity,” Rauen said on facing the number one ranked team. “It was good for us and they’re disappointed we let this one slip away from us, but we get to see them again fortunately.”   

    The Golden Eagles will return to action Sat., Sept. 29 at Wayne State College (Neb.) at 6 p.m.