STARKVILLE, Miss. - Caitlin Rance and Ashley Newsome combined for 43 kills Friday night but the Bulldogs came out on the short end of a five-set battle with SEC Eastern Division foe South Carolina. The Gamecocks (4-12, 1-5 SEC) reeled off wins in the first two sets, 25-20 and 30-28, absorbed a pair of impressive wins in the third and fourth sets by the Bulldogs, 25-19 and 25-11, and then thundered back for a 15-9 decision in the deciding fifth set that clinched USC's first SEC victory of the campaign. It was State's first loss in four five-set matches this fall.
Rance tallied 22 kills and Newsome had 21 as the Bulldogs (10-7, 2-4 SEC) won the statistical battle but lost the scoreboard war. State led USC in kills 75-64, attack percentage .256 to .206, and digs 96-91. But State was plagued by a season-high 11 service errors and unable to overcome a strong performance by USC's Juliette Thevenin. Thevenin matched a career-best with 21 kills and tallied five blocks to spark the Gamecocks.
The Bulldogs return to SEC competition Sunday at the Newell-Grissom Building with a 1:30 p.m. match against second-ranked and SEC-leading Florida (13-1, 6-0 SEC), a straight-sets winner Friday night at Alabama.
Rance eclipsed the 20-kill mark for the second time this seaso and matched a career-best with 12 digs to notch her sixth double-double of the season. Newsome followed up her career-high 26-kill performance at Georgia with Friday's 21 kills against South Carolina and led MSU at the net with a solo block and five block assists.
State piled up a season-high 96 digs, with senior libero Kayla Woodard tallying 25 digs and sharing match honors with teammate Kellye Jordan. Freshman setter Paris Perret totaled 49 assists and matched a season-best with 18 digs for her fourth double-double of the year.
Missisisppi State came out flat against the Gamecocks, piling up 15 attack errors and five service errors in trailing two sets to none at the break. But the Bulldogs rebounded impressively, delivering 21 kills, six by junior outside hitter Kellye Jordan, in staying alive with a 25-19 win in the third set. State was even more impressive in the fourth set, hitting at a .519 clip with 14 kills in a resounding attack error-free 25-11 win.
USC bolted to a 3-1 lead in the fifth set and used a 5-0 run midway inthe final stanza to seal their initial league win of the year.
Behind Thevenin's 21 kills, Olivia Ryder had 11 and Megan Laughlin added 10.
With 25 digs, senior libero Kayla Woodard climbed two places among MSU's career digs leaders and became the fifth Mississippi State player to eclipse the 1,200-dig mark. The Addison, Ala., product now has 1,217 digs in four seasons at State.
TULSA, Okla. - Mississippi State men's tennis action has been concluded at the ITA All-American Championships in Tulsa, Okla. on Friday.
Coming off an impressive straight-set victory over the Texas A&M's 12th-ranked player in the country Austin Krajicek, MSU's No. 38 ranked junior Louis Cant dropped a round of 16 consolation match to 35th-ranked Vahid Mirzadeh of Florida State, 6-3, 7-5, to end Cant's run at the ITA All-Americans.
In the main draw consolation bracket for doubles, the Bulldog tandem of George Coupland and Zach White conjured an impressive round of 16 victory, 8-6, over Washington's No. 25 nationally ranked duo Kyle McMorrow and Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan. In quarterfinals action, MSU's Coupland and White concluded their run at the championship event with an 8-4 setback to 38th-ranked Cliff Marsland and Ashley Watling of Tulsa.
"It was a great experience for our new guys," Coach Per Nilsson said. "They see they can compete with the best and now we have to continue to improve and get ready for the next tournament."
STARKVILLE, Miss. - Mississippi State fired 16 shots and Skylar Rosson matched her career high with 12 saves, but Tennessee came away with a 1-0 victory in double overtime Friday night at the MSU Soccer Field.
The deciding goal came two minutes into the final stanza. Caroline Brown took a pass on the left end line and fired a shot that found its way into the right side of the net for the winner.
State, playing its first overtime match of the season, fell to 7-7 overall and 0-5 in league play. Tennessee improved to 6-6-1, 3-1-1 in SEC action.
"When you consider that we had only been training in this new system for three days, I am very proud of our girls and the way they fought over the course of the game," MSU coach Neil Macdonald said. "I was proud of the way they applied themselves offensively and defensively from start to finish. It's a disappointing loss, but we are going to regroup and see if we can reproduce that kind of effort the rest of the season."
Returning home for a six-match road trip, Mississippi State took the fight to the Lady Vols. Rosson stuffed the first shot she faced 10 minutes in, and State came right back with a Tarah Henderson attempt that was turned away by Molly Baird.
Baird finished with seven saves on the night in picking up her sixth decision of the year.
Kat Walsh paced the Bulldogs with three shots, and her first attempt came on a 13th-minute attempt that was saved by Baird.
Tennessee nearly broke the scoreless tie with a 29th-minute corner kick, but Rosson managed to knock away the header attempt by Anna Fisher.
State's Kim Pettit had a shot saved 10 minutes later, and freshman Elisabeth Sullivan missed high on a shot in the 41st minute.
The two teams combined for 15 shots in the opening period, and the offensive explosion continued in the second period as 17 shots were taken.
"We had our chances tonight. I thought we played well from back to front," Macdonald said. "The midfield was organized and picking up their runners. Our strikers moved and defended well. It was a good team performance all-around, and that's what it takes at this level."
Tennessee's Emily Dowd had a scoring chance turned away 30 seconds into the half, and the Bulldogs countered only to see Walsh's attempt saved by Baird.
The respective keepers stopped Monica Alvarado and Chelsea Hatcher attempts before State managed to turn away UT's best opportunity on goal in the first 90 minutes. Tennessee sent a free kick into the box, and Rosson managed to stop point-blank attempts by Hatcher and Kylie Bono.
Hatcher and Alvarado each had chances to find the net in the final five minutes of the second half, but neither was able to convert and the match went to overtime.
Sullivan had a pair of opportunities in the first overtime, but one sailed high while Baird stopped the second with just under two minutes left to play.
MSU's Morganne Grimes missed a golden-goal opportunity early in the final overtime period, and UT countered to claim the winner. An Emily Dowd shot deflected off the crossbar, but the Bulldogs were unable to clear the zone and Brown clinched the win 14 seconds later.
State hosts Georgia at 1 p.m. Sunday in the team's annual Kick for the Cure. The first 100 fans to bring a coupon from MSU's Soccer Facebook Page (www.facebook.com/MStateSOC) to the match receive a free t-shirt.