News from MSU Media Relations--Sept. 16

The latest sports news from the MSU Media Relations Department...Soccer, Volleyball, Cross Country and Football.

STARKVILLE, Miss. - The Mississippi State soccer team heads to Oklahoma to face No. 13 Oklahoma State and Oral Roberts in the final weekend before SEC play kicks off.

The Bulldogs meet the 13th-ranked Cowgirls at 7 p.m. Friday before heading to Tulsa for a 1 p.m. showdown against Oral Roberts on Sunday.

The Dawgs take a 6-1 record to the Sooner State for this weekend's non-conference finale. State has won five-straight matches following a pair of home victories over Mississippi Valley State and Jackson State last week.

Sophomore Rachel Wannek has had the hot hand for the Bulldogs lately, notching 10 points (4 goals, 2 assists) over the past three matches. The Woodstock, Ontario, native's four goals lead the squad, and she is tied with freshman Elisabeth Sullivan and senior Leanna Baldner for the top assists mark with three.

Sullivan continued her stellar freshman campaign last week, adding her third goal of the season in last Friday's 2-1 win against Jackson State. The Memphis native's trio of scores ties her for second-most on the team with junior Kim Pettit and sophomore Madison McKee.

Freshman Abby Risner enjoyed an outstanding debut in goal for the Dawgs, stopping five shots in the winning effort against the Tigers.

The Cowgirls also boast a 6-1 mark and have won four-straight matches entering the weekend. Krista Lopez has been dangerous on offense for the defending Big 12 champion, scoring four goals on the year.

Adrianna French has seen the majority of the action in goal this season, surrendering just three goals while stopping 23 shots.

STARKVILLE, Miss. - A unique under-the-net pursuit play by Mississippi State's Volleyball Bulldogs in their August 27 season-opener against Arkansas-Little Rock has been selected as the 2010 season's first Volleyball Market/AVCA Play of the Week. The award is presented by the American Volleyball Coaches Association, based in Lexington, Ky., following week-long online voting by coaches, players, fans and the general public.

The Bulldog play out-polled two other stellar college volleyball plays from opening weekend that were selected as finalists for the initial award. The MSU play garnered approximately 56% of more than 10,000 votes cast. The MSU pursuit play will now be considered for the Volleyball Market/AVCA Play of the Year honors at season's end.

"We are thrilled to win the AVCA Play of the Week," said second-year MSU head coach Jenny Hazelwood. "Any time we can highlight the great things our athletes do and bring exposure to our program...that is exciting. We train daily with relentless effort, and this particular play exemplifies what we are all about."

In the play, Bulldog libero Kayla Woodard dug a hard-hit attack by UALR that sailed wide of the net on the UALR side of the court. But before the ball could hit the floor out of bounds, two-time SEC Freshman of the Week Paris Perret raced under the net to pursue the ball, returning the ball to play on the Mississippi State side of the net, where junior outside hitter Faith Steinwedell kept the play alive with an attack.

The incredible play had a Newell-Grissom Building crowd-pleasing finish for the Bulldogs when senior middle blocker Ashley Newsome delivered a play-ending block .State went on to win the deciding third set and its seventh consecutive season-opener.

The NCAA modified its pursuit rule for the 2010 season, allowing players to cross under the net to keep a ball in play. It is believed that the successful pursuit play by State's Paris Perret on opening day of the 2010 season is the first under the NCAA's modified pursuit rules.

Cross Country
STARKVILLE, Miss. - It won't be just the football field Mississippi State and LSU meet on Saturday. The cross country Bulldogs are hosting the 8th annual Bulldog Invitational, and LSU highlights the field of competitors. The men's 8K at the Mississippi Horse Park is set to begin at 8 a.m., followed by the women's 5K at 8:45 a.m.

Admission is free.

Both MSU teams started the season with second-place finishes at the Georgia Invitational and are working hard to be on top when Saturday's meet comes to a close.

The men's squad is looking to improve its times in each meet. Last week redshirt freshman Nick Perkins led the team and finished second overall in the 8K with a time of 24:40.97, while freshman Mike Clark finished fourth at 24:44.75. The top finisher in the 5K for the Lady Bulldogs was sophomore Renee Masterson with a fifth place overall and a time of 18:14.72. Haley Greenwell finished seventh at 18:21.86.

"We had an impressive start to the season, but we are looking to build with each meet and gain experience each time," head coach Houston Franks said.

Past wins at the Invitational are not making the Bulldogs complacent or stopping them from training hard. Goals of being the best they can be and an attitude of being on top are the motivators behind the teams and keep them moving forward.

"The approach in training for both teams is the same even with hosting," Franks added. "The only difference is they are in their own element being at home.

"We had a good week of training, and I like how both squads are training hard with toughness."

Following the completion of Saturday's meet, the Bulldogs travel to the Bluegrass State Oct. 2, for the Greater Louisville Classic.

STARKVILLE, Miss - Mississippi State completed its 2011 football schedule with the announcement on Thursday the Bulldogs will host the University of Tennessee at Martin on November 5, 2011.

The Bulldogs 12-game regular season schedule will begin with a season-opener at Memphis and includes non-conference home games against Louisiana Tech and the Skyhawks. Mississippi State's other non-conference tilt will be at UAB in early October.

The MSU-UT Martin contest will be played on what has recently been an open weekend for the Bulldogs. In 2011, State will not play on Saturday, Oct. 22, the weekend preceding a trip to Kentucky.

While Mississippi State has played Ohio Valley Conference members Jacksonville State and Murray State, the Bulldogs and UT Martin have never before met on the gridiron.

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