STARKVILLE, Miss. - A pair of players from Mississippi State's unbeaten volleyball team have been honored by the Southeastern Conference as the league's top defensive player and top freshman of the week.
Senior libero Kayla Woodard (Addison, Ala.) is the SEC Defensive Player of the Week while rookie setter Paris Perret (Frisco, Texas), for the second straight week, is honored as the SEC Freshman of the Week. Tennessee senior outside hitter Nikki Fowler is this week's SEC Offensive Player of the Week.
"I'm thrilled that Kayla and Paris have been honored for their outstanding play on the court by the Southeastern Conference," said second-year head coach Jenny Hazelwood. "They've both played such huge roles in helping us get off to a great start and win our first two tournaments. They've worked extremely hard to get to this point and we're proud to see their success recognized by the conference."
Woodard tallied 62 digs in three matches and helped lead Mississippi State to a 3-0 mark and the championship of the UTA Maverick Invitational last weekend in Arlington, Texas. She sparked an MSU defensive effort that limited its three opponents to .103 hitting on the weekend.
With her 10th dig last weekend, Woodard became the 12th Mississippi State player to reach the 1,000-dig career milestone. She stands 11th among MSU's career leaders with 1,052 digs. Woodard becomes the first Mississippi State player to earn SEC Player or Defensive Player of the Week honors. She ranks second in the SEC in both total (126) and per-set average (5.48) digs.
"Kayla has improved tremendously since last season and has developed into one of the Southeastern Conference's premier defensive players," Hazelwood added. "Averaging better than six assists per set last weekend was a remarkable performance. Without question she has been one of the keys to our 7-0 start this season."
Perret, who last weekend joined former MSU standout Martina Gregusova (2006) as the only volleyball players from State honored as an SEC Freshman of the Week, averaged 11.30 assists in each of State's 10 sets en route to her second weekly SEC honor. One of three Bulldogs to start all seven matches this fall, Perret registered 113 sets at last weekend's UTA Maverick Invitational, including an SEC season-high 59 in the Bulldogs' title-clinching win over host UT-Arlington.
With 243 assists through seven matches, Perret ranks third in the SEC in both total (243) and per-set average (10.57) digs.
"I've said before that Paris doesn't play like a freshman, and it's true," said Hazelwood. "She does an outstanding job of running our offense. And considering the changes in personnel we've had to deal with lately due to injuries, her achievements are even more impressive. Last weekend in Arlington we also saw her Paris take on a greater role for us defensively, so she's getting better with each match."
Woodard, Perret and their Bulldog teammates travel to Carbondale, Ill., this weekend, taking on host Southern Illinois, South Florida and Southeast Missouri in the two-day SIU Saluki Invitational.
STARKVILLE, Miss - Nick Perkins of Mississippi State was named the SEC Male Freshman of the Week on Tuesday following his outstanding performance at the Georgia Cross Country Invitational this past Saturday.
In his first collegiate event, the Hoover, Ala., native finished second overall with a time of 24:40.97.
"Nick is a hard worker, and he is benefitting from his training," MSU coach Houston Franks said. "In Georgia he managed the race well, especially with it being his first meet."
"Nick will only get better, and his goal should be to make the all-freshman team for the conference."
Perkins was redshirted a year ago following an injury, which delayed his debut wearing the Maroon & White.
"I was very happy with the way the race went, with how my teammates and I finished," Perkins said. "Since I was injured last year, I've trained hard to get into this position.
Mississippi State placed second in both the men's and women's events at Georgia and is off until they host the Bulldog Invitational on Sept. 18.
STARKVILLE, Miss. - Junior Kim Pettit scored two of Mississippi State's four first-half goals Tuesday night as the Bulldogs rolled to a 5-0 win against Mississippi Valley State at the newly-renovated MSU Soccer Field.
The Dawgs, who won their fourth-straight match to improve to 5-1, pounded 21 shots in each half to finish the night with 42, one shy of matching the school's single-game record. State's seven assists tied for the fifth-most in a game, while the five-goal differential landed just outside the top five.
"We've been talking about putting in a full 90 minutes, and we did that tonight," MSU head coach Neil Macdonald said. "I thought we saw leadership from our entire team, not just our seniors and captains. I'm really proud of the effort our team put forth tonight."
The Bulldogs took the first 18 minutes to breakdown the Delta Devilette defense, but they broke through at the 18:59 mark and managed to find the back of the net four times over the remainder of the half.
MSU's four first-half goals were the most in a single half since Sept. 14, 2008, when the Dawgs struck five times in an 8-0 win against Nicholls State.
Sophomore Zehra Syed opened the scoring barrage with her first career goal. The Indian Springs, Ala., native received an Ashley Hood service over the top of the defense and deposited it into the upper-right part of the net.
Madison McKee continued her stellar sophomore season in the 27th minute, giving the Dawgs a 2-0 lead as she scored a Danielle Kite pass for her third goal of the year.
Pettit closed the half by netting goals in the 29th and 33rd minute. Just four days removed from her first collegiate goal, the Madison, Miss., native scored on a Rachel Wannek free kick that deflected off Delta Devilette goalkeeper Shelby Willcocks at the 28:47 mark.
"I couldn't be happier for Kim. She works so hard every single day in practice and is very committed to the program and her teammates," Macdonald said. "It was great to see her score two great goals tonight."
Pettit struck again four minutes later on a Bulldog corner kick, one of three in the opening half. Taylor Turnipseed deflected the kick to Pettit, and she beat Willcocks from point-blank range to put MSU up 4-0 and give the Mississippi State a multiple-goal scorer for the second-straight match.
"The two goals tonight were mainly from following the play," Pettit said. "Andy (Manners) always talks to us about following shots and getting to it when the goalkeeper fumbles it, and that's what I was trying to do."
Wannek, who netted five points on two goals and an assist in last Sunday's win against South Alabama, added her third goal of the year in the 54th minute. Jasmine Simmons crossed a ball to Elisabeth Sullivan, who in turn dropped a pass to Wannek in front of net for the 5-0 MSU. Wannek's three-point night gives the Woodstock Ontario, native eight points in the last two matches.
The Bulldogs were able to turn up the offensive heat thanks to a stellar defensive effort that held MVSU to just two shots on the night.
Both of the Delta Devilettes' shots were stopped by sophomore goalkeeper Skylar Rosson as she turned in her third shutout in four matches.
Tuesday night's match was Mississippi State's first on the newly-renovated MSU Soccer Field. The playing surface underwent an extensive renovation over the summer, getting a state-of-the-art sand-based playing field that includes new underground drainage and irrigation systems.
"We are very grateful to our administration for giving us this quality surface to play on," Macdonald said. "Our team played some quality soccer on it tonight, and it is a first-class playing surface."
The Dawgs stay on the home pitch Friday, hosting Jackson State at 7 p.m. Admission to all MSU home soccer matches is free.