News from MSU Media Relations--Sept. 30

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

STARKVILLE, Miss. - A six-match road trip comes to a close this weekend as the Mississippi State soccer team continues Southeastern Conference play with matches against No. 7 Florida and No. 20 South Carolina.

The Bulldogs (7-4-0, 0-2-0 SEC) venture to Gainesville on Friday for a 6 p.m. CT kickoff against the Gators. The squad then travels to Columbia, S.C., on Sunday to meet the Gamecocks in a 1 p.m. CT match that will be televised live on Comcast Sports Southeast.

Mississippi State will be looking for repeat success against two of the top teams in the SEC East. Last season in Starkville, the Bulldogs played to 1-1 ties against both squads when they were ranked in the top 10 in the nation.

State opened SEC play last weekend, traveling to No. 25 Auburn and Alabama as part of the longest road trip since 2000. Macdonald's unit fell 3-1 to the Tigers on Friday before surrendering a pair of second-half goals on Sunday in a 2-0 setback to the Crimson Tide.

Freshman Elisabeth Sullivan scored the Bulldogs' goal against Auburn, continuing a stellar rookie season that has seen her tie sophomore Rachel Wannek for the team lead in points (11), goals (4) and assists (3).

Junior Kim Pettit and sophomore Madison McKee have scored a career-high three goals each this season.

Redshirt sophomore Skylar Rosson stopped a career-high 12 shots against the Tigers and six more on Sunday to move into fifth in the SEC with 42 saves on the year.

The Gators bring an 8-1 tally into Friday's match, the lone setback coming to then-No. 1 North Carolina.

McKenzie Barney paces UF with seven goals and three assists this season. Defensively, Katie Fraine has stopped 38 shots while surrendering just five goals.

South Carolina has put up a 7-2-2 overall record and 1-0-1 league tally behind one of the SEC's top defenses. Mollie Patton paces that defense, stopping 40 shots in goal against just six goals surrendered.

The Gamecock offense has netted 17 goals this season, with Danielle Au leading the way with four. Kayla Grimsley has struck three times while pacing the team with six assists.

STARKVILLE, Miss. - Mississippi State opens its 10-match October volleyball schedule on the road this weekend when the Bulldogs (9-5, 1-2 SEC) continue Southeastern Conference competition with matches at Auburn and Georgia.

State opens the two-match set Friday with a 7 p.m. match at Auburn (11-5, 2-2 SEC) before facing its first SEC Eastern Division foe of the campaign, Georgia (9-6, 1-3 SEC), in a 12 p.m. match Sunday. The MSU-UGA match will be televised live regionally from Athens by FOX Sports Net South. MSU and its two weekend opponents registered five-set wins on their respective home courts last Friday night before bowing in Sunday competition.

MSU notched its fourth win in five home matches against Arkansas last Friday, extending MSU's two-year winning streak at the Newell-Grissom Building to eight matches. Setter Paris Perret, a two-time SEC Freshman of the Week selection, tallied 36 assists and 18 digs to notch her third double-double of her rookie season. With its ninth win of the campaign, Mississippi State equaled its 2009 season win total.

In Sunday's loss to No. 17 LSU, senior middle blocker Ashley Newsome notched her 62nd career block solo, tying Ashlye Davis (1990-93) for fifth place among MSU's career leaders. With seven total blocks on the weekend Newsome also climbed to fourth at State with 328 career total blocks.

Team kills leader Caitlin Rance, who opens the weekend ranked third in both total (186) and average (3.80) kills, is nearing the 500-kill milestone. She begins the weekend with 478 kills.

State returns to action at home next weekend, hosting SEC East foes South Carolina (Oct. 8) and second-ranked Florida (Oct. 10).

Mississippi State senior offensive lineman Derek Sherrod was named a semifinalist for the 2010 William V. Campbell Trophy, The National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame announced on Thursday. Sherrod, seeking his Master's in Sports Administration after earning his Bachelor's Degree in Business, is one of 121 semifinalists for the award. The NFF Awards Committee will select 15 finalists as part of the 2010 NFF National Scholar-Athlete Class, and each finalist will receive an $18,000 post-graduate scholarship.

Sherrod is a three-year starter at left tackle, and was named to the All-Southeastern Conference team following the 2009 season. A preseason all-SEC selection prior to his senior campaign, Sherrod was the conference's Offensive Lineman of the Week following the Bulldogs' win over Georgia last Saturday. Last season, the Columbus, Miss., native helped pave the way for Mississippi State to the lead the SEC and finish ninth in the nation in rushing.

Named twice to the SEC Academic Honor Roll, Sherrod graduated cum laude with a bachelor's degree in business with a focus on financial risk management, insurance and financial planning. He finished his undergraduate studies with a 3.54 grade point average, and has a 4.0 mark in graduate school.

Each semifinalist is nominated by their school, which is limited to one nominee. Each must be a senior or graduate student in their final year of eligibility, have a GPA of at least 3.2 on a 4.0 scale, have outstanding football ability as a first team player and has demonstrated strong leadership and citizenship.

The NFF Awards Committee will announce the finalists on Thursday, Oct. 28, with the winner named at the NFF's Annual Awards Dinner on Dec. 7.

Cross Country
STARKVILLE, Miss. - Continued improvement is the goal of coach Houston Franks and the Mississippi State cross country teams as they face their toughest test of the season Saturday when they travel to Kentucky for the Greater Louisville Classic.

Along with the high level of SEC competition that features Georgia, Kentucky, Ole Miss and Vanderbilt, MSU will line up against more than 50 teams.

"This is by far the biggest meet, our biggest test to date," Franks said. "It will be larger than our last two events combined, by quite a bit. This will be our true, big test, but on the other side it's not the SEC or Regionals, so what we really want to see is the teams continually getting better and working on the things we need to improve on from the last two meets."

Due to the large field of runners, the Classic is split into four heats - two each for both men and women. Mississippi State has been placed in the first two heats and will run at 9:30 am (men) and 10:15 am (women).

Both MSU squads are coming off victories at the Bulldog Invitational but are not letting that deter their training. In actuality, the Bulldogs have stepped up their regimen in preparation for such a large field. Since positioning will mean everything in a meet of this caliber, the Bulldogs are working on their starting times and getting out of the gate in front.

"This meet you have a tremendous amount of teams and the course gets very narrow, very quickly," Franks commented. "If you don't get out, be aggressive and get a good position, then you put yourself in a hole. With increased preparation and training, we are hoping to avoid those holes."

Upon completion of the Greater Louisville Classic, the Bulldogs have a two-week layoff before lacing up their running shoes and heading to Boone, N.C., for the Blue Ridge Invitational on October 15.

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