News from MSU Media Relations--Sept. 18

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

STILLWATER, Okla. - The Mississippi State soccer team fought hard against No. 13 Oklahoma State, but a strong second half led the Cowgirls to a 6-0 win Friday night in Stillwater, Okla.

State had a five-match win streak snapped to fall to 6-2 on the year. Oklahoma State won its fifth-consecutive match to improve to 7-1.

Krista Lopez and Taylor Matthews scored five of OSU's goals. Lopez netted a hat trick, while Matthews hit two second-half goals.

Kat Walsh paced MSU with four shots in her first match back in the lineup. Freshman Elisabeth Sullivan fired three shots in the contest.

Making her second career start, freshman Abby Risner matched her season high with five saves.

State's defense fought hard in the opening half, holding OSU to a late goal despite being out-shot 15-5.

The Bulldogs' best opportunity in the match came midway through the first period. Sullivan received the ball at her feet, turned and fired a shot that was stopped by OSU keeper Adrianna Franch. Four minutes later, Walsh missed wide on a shot toward the net.

Despite the solid effort from MSU, Oklahoma State managed to find the back of the net in the 33rd minute. Lopez fired a shot from the left side, and the ball appeared to deflect off a Bulldog defender into the top of the net for her fifth goal of the season.

The Dawgs kept fighting, but were unable to hit the equalizer before the period expired. Walsh fired a shot from long range with 30 seconds left in the half, but the ball sailed just high of the crossbar.

Oklahoma State extended the lead to 2-0 lead just a minute into the second half. Franch sent a towering kick over the Bulldog defense, and Katie Richardson out-ran the MSU defenders and chipped a shot into the top of the net.

Sullivan created State's first second-half opportunity in the 53rd minute. The Memphis native split the defense and fired a shot that sailed just right of the post.

Oklahoma State pushed the lead to 3-0 with 33:31 left in the match. Kristen Kelley slid a ball to Lopez, who beat Risner on the breakaway for her second goal of the night.

Lopez completed the hat trick in the 62nd minute, and Taylor Matthews collected OSU's final goals in the 72nd and 78th minutes.

The Bulldogs close the non-conference slate with a 1 p.m. contest against Oral Roberts in Tulsa on Sunday.

STARKVILLE, Miss. - Mississippi State opens its 28th season of Southeastern Conference volleyball competition Sunday when the Bulldogs (8-3) travel to Oxford, Miss., Sunday to take on instate SEC rival Ole Miss. First serve at the Gillom Center is set for 1:07 p.m. The match is scheduled to be televised regionally on Cox Communications cable outlets.

In their most recent competition, the Bulldogs dropped a 3-0 decision at Southern Miss Wednesday night in Hattiesburg, absorbing their third setback in their last four outings. The Rebels (7-4, 1-0 SEC) successfully opened their 20-match SEC schedule Friday night in Oxford, registering a 3-1 decision over Alabama (8-3, 0-1 SEC).

"This will be like starting a new season," second-year Bulldog volleyball head coach Jenny Hazelwood said of Sunday's SEC opener. "We're 0-0 in the conference and get to start fresh. During the non-conference portion of our schedule we've had some good moments and seen other areas where we need to continue to get better. We'll need a complete team effort to successfully meet the challenges that Ole Miss presents."

The match in Oxford closes out a stretch of eight consecutive road matches spanning three states for the Bulldogs, who opened the year with a seven-match win streak, the fourth-longest season-opening win streak in school history. MSU will be looking to match its 2009 season win total (nine wins) and claim its fifth SEC season-opener since league play began in 1983.

Junior outside hitter Caitlin Rance (Kingwood, Texas) is hitting at a team-best .260 clip, pacing the Bulldogs and entering the week ranked second in the Southeastern Conference with 147 total kills. She also stands second on the team with 86 digs and ranks tied for second on the club with 14 total blocks.

Senior middle blocker Ashley Newsome (Florence, Ala.) has also eclipsed the century mark in kills this season with 116 and opened the week tied for third in the SEC with 45 total blocks. Newsome piled up 33 kills and 13 blocks in two matches against Ole Miss last fall.

MSU has registered season series sweeps of the Rebels four of the last six years, sweeping last year's series with a 3-2 win in Oxford and a 3-1 decision at the Newell-Grissom Building in Starkville.

Mississippi State resumes home competition next weekend at the Newell-Grissom Building, hosting SEC West foe Arkansas Sept. 24 (7 p.m.) and defending SEC champ LSU Sept. 26 (1:30 p.m.) in the lone home appearances in September for the Bulldogs.

Cross Country
STARKVILLE, Miss. – Haley Greenwell achieved two feats on Saturday, winning her first collegiate meet and posting a personal-best time of 18:17.00 to pace Mississippi State to a victory at the Bulldog Invitational on Saturday at the Mississippi Horse Park on a hot and humid course.

It was also a good morning for the men, as their first-place finish gave MSU the home sweep thanks to four players placing in the Top 5.

"I'm very excited with the team's performance," said Greenwell, a native of Collierville, Tenn. "Our coach has put us through great training, and I feel like we are an underrated team in the SEC."

The Lady Bulldogs won their 5K and punctuated how impressive they were with a team score of 19, followed by LSU (40) and Jackson State (85). Renee Masterson (18:35.40) finished second, just ahead of Katie Hutson (18:42.70) in third and Dominique Lockhart (18:47.70) in the fifth spot to have three in of the Top 5.

"Individually I would have liked to run faster," Masterson said. "As a team though, I thought we brought the hammer down."

In the men's 8K, MSU senior Adam Lenz finished second and looked solid with a time of 25:05.00, followed by Nick Perkins (25:19.00) at third, along with Phillip Johnson (25:29.00) and Juan Sanchez (25:36.00), respectfully at the fourth and fifth. The Bulldogs won with a score of 20 points, followed by LSU (37) and Jackson State (85).

"I felt a lot better about the race today than I did two weeks ago," said Lenz, in reference to the season-opening meet at Georgia. "We competed well as a team, but we still need to improve every time we are out there."

Mississippi State takes a week off before heading to Louisville, Ky., for the Greater Louisville Classic on Oct. 2.

"Very pleased when you can win at home," MSU coach Houston Franks said. "This is an extremely hard course, and both squads ran it aggressively."

STARKVILLE, Miss. - Mississippi State opened its 2010 fall softball season with a pair of victories over visiting Marion Military Institute Saturday afternoon. The Bulldogs swept the doubleheader, winning 17-0 and 16-1 at the MSU Softball Field.

The Bulldogs resume their eight-game fall schedule by hosting Southern Union Community College in another doubleheader Sunday afternoon. First pitch is scheduled for 1 p.m. There is no admission charge for MSU softball games.

Game 1: M-State 17, Marion 0

Misty Flesher and Kylie Vry combined to pitch a one-hitter as the Bulldogs cruised to victory in Saturday's opener. The duo faced two batters above the minimum, as Flesher allowed one hit and Vry walked a batter - each in three innings of work.

The Bulldogs broke open a tight game by scoring 10 times in the second inning. In that at-bat, Briana Bell had a two-run triple. Jessica Cooley, Kaili Smith, Samantha Lenahan, Heidi Shape and Chelsea Raines also had run-producing hits in that inning. The Bulldogs sent 16 batters to the plate, totaling 11 hits and also taking advantage of three Marion errors.

MSU would later add two scores in the third inning and four more scores in the fifth inning.

For the contest, the Bulldogs totaled 23 hits. Ali Bainbridge, Lenahan and Shape each had four hits to lead the offensive attack. Smith finished with three hits, while Briana Bell and Brittany Gates each added multiple hits. Shape had a team-best three RBIs.

Game 2: M-State 16, Marion 1

The Bulldogs pounded out 19 hits and pieced together two different five-run innings to complete the doubleheader sweep.

MSU grabbed a 2-0 lead on RBI-singles by Brittany Bell and Courtney Nesbit in the first inning. The lead grew to 7-0 with five scores in the third inning. Brittany Bell slapped a two-run home run in that at-bat. The fifth inning, the Bulldogs' other five-run inning, also included a two-run blast, with Jessica Cooley this time doing the honors.

Brittany Bell had four hits and four RBIs to pace the M-State attack. Bainbridge added three hits giving her a seven-hit afternoon. Briana Bell, Cooley, Shelby Fisher, Nesbit and Shape each had multiple hits.

Starting pitcher Lindsey Dunlap pitched three innings of no-hit softball to garner the victory. Shana Sherrod worked two innings, allowing four hits and one run (earned), while Stephanie Becker completed the contest with two innings of scoreless relief.

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