News from MSU Media Relations--Nov. 4

The latest sports news from the MSU Media Relations Department...Volleyball, Men's Tennis and Women's Golf.

STARKVILLE, Miss. - Mississippi State ushers in its seven-match November volleyball schedule Friday night when the Bulldogs (11-13, 3-10 SEC) play host to defending SEC Eastern Division champion Kentucky (13-11, 7-7 SEC). First serve at the Newell-Grissom Building is set for 7 p.m. (CDT) and there is no charge for admission.

Friday's interdivisional match with the Wildcats is the first of two against SEC Eastern Division foes on the weekend for the homestanding Bulldogs. State takes on No. 22 Tennessee (19-5, 10-4 SEC) Sunday at 1:30 p.m. (CST).

The Bulldogs will be battling to earn season series splits against both the UKats and the Lady Vols in this weekend's matches after both opponents turned back State in straight sets three weeks ago in Lexington and Knoxville.

Junior outside hitter Caitlin Rance tallied a team-best 17 kills in last weekend's matches at LSU and Arkansas and enters the weekend with a squad-leading 307 kills and .235 attack percentage. The next kill for the Kingwood, Texas, product will be the 600th of her three-year MSU career.

Senior libero Kayla Woodard begins the weekend three digs away from becoming the fourth Bulldog to register 1,300 digs in a career and 29 digs away from her second consecutive 400-dig season. Woodard averages 4.36 digs per set, fourth-best in the SEC. Also on the cusp of moving up on State's career listings is senior middle blocker Ashley Newsome, who with 71 career solo blocks is four rejections away from climbing from fourth to second among State's all-time career leaders.

Junior outside hitter Kellye Jordan, who has drawn starts in 12 of MSU's 13 conference matches, has tallied 88 kills this fall and is poised to set a career-high and become the fourth Bulldog to reach the century mark in kills.

STARKVILLE, Miss. - Mississippi State senior libero Kayla Woodard from Addison, Ala., has earned first-team ESPN Academic All-District VI Team honors for 2010 as announced Thursday by CoSIDA, the national organization of college sports publicists. As one of 50 first-team selections, Woodard now advances to consideration for ESPN Academic All-America Team honors.

The three-time SEC Academic Honor Roll selection is one of two first-team all-district honorees for 2010 from the Southeastern Conference, joining District V selection, Nikki Fowler, a senior from Tennessee.

"We are so proud to have Kayla Woodard representing Mississippi State on the CoSIDA Academic All-District VI team," said Bulldog head volleyball coach Jenny Hazelwood. "Her dedication to excellence in the classroom is such a great example of the kind of student-athlete we want at Mississippi State. She has been diligent in her efforts to work hard while keeping a good balance so that she can perform at her best academically and athletically. Kayla sets the standard very high within our program and is a great example for others to follow."

Woodard has compiled a 4.0 career grade point average at Mississippi State. She completed her undergraduate degree work in elementary education last summer and is currently enrolled in graduate studies at MSU. Academic success is nothing new for Woodard, who was the valedictorian of her Addison High School graduating class in 2007 prior to joining the MSU volleyball team as a walk-on.

The four-year defensive standout and third-year starting libero ranks fourth among MSU's all-time career defensive leaders with 1,297 digs in 114 career matches. She enters the weekend ranked fifth with 371 digs and is poised to register her second consecutive 400-dig season during home matches against Kentucky and Tennessee this weekend at the Newell-Grissom Building.

Senior middle blocker Ashley Newsome and sophomore outside hitter Chanelle Baker were also on the ballot for academic all-district honors this fall. CoSIDA's sixth district includes colleges and universities in a six-state area stretching from New Mexico to Mississippi.

Florida, Georgia, Kentucky and LSU combined for five second or third-team academic all-district selections.

Woodard is bidding to become the third Mississippi State volleyball player accorded Academic All-America Team honors. Aimee York, the first Mississippi State female athlete to receive SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year honors, represented MSU on CoSIDA's 1992 Academic All-American Team while Jill Ferguson was a second-team Academic All-American in 1998.

Men's Tennis
NICEVILLE, Fla. - In main draw competition at the Niceville Futures, the Mississippi State men's tennis team completed action with a strong showing against some of the world's best competition.

MSU picked up a couple wins in singles against highly ranked players in the world in the main draw of the Niceville Futures before competition ended for the Maroon and White.

True freshman Malte Stropp defeated Lance Vodia, 6-3, 6-4, in singles. Vodicka has been ranked as high as 728 in the world. Stropp eventually was defeated in main draw competition by Dennis Bloemke, 6-1, 7-6(5), and Bloemke has been ranked as high as No. 371 in the world.

Bulldog junior Artem Ilyushin defeated Gary Sacks, who is ranked 660th in the world, in straight sets, 7-5, 6-2. Ilyushin was eliminated from main draw competition to Robby Poole who is No. 488 in the world, 6-1, 7-6(3).

Women's Golf
STARKVILLE, MISS. - Traveling west for the inaugural Pac-10/SEC Challenge to conclude fall play, the Mississippi State women's golf team looks to continue impressive streak that features three Top 10 finishes.

Play at the Stanford Golf Course in Stanford, Calif., on Friday tees off at 9:45 a.m. CT, but MSU will not hit the links until 11:30 a.m..

Facing their fiercest competition yet this fall, the Lady Bulldogs will see seven of the nation's Top-10 teams in the event. Top-ranked LSU and No. 2 Alabama headline the field for the SEC while USC and UCLA enter ranked 3rd and 4th respectively. Other Top 10 teams include California (7), Georgia (8) and Vanderbilt (10). The SEC will also be represented by Arkansas, Auburn, Florida, Kentucky, Ole Miss, South Carolina and Tennessee while the Pac-10 will be represented by Arizona, Oregon, Oregon State, Stanford, Washington and Washington State.

MSU enters the tournament on one the hottest streaks in the program's history. While finishing in the Top 10 in all three tournaments this fall, the lady linksters have posted scores not seen in the Maroon and White for quite some time. Six different women have competed in tournaments this fall for the Lady Bulldogs and five of the six have posted career-best rounds.

Seniors Malory Batson and Erika Thornton will make the tournament for MSU. Both golfers are shooting well below their career-stroke average. Batson is averaging almost two strokes below her average while Thornton is nearly three strokes below hers.

Maria Roos makes the third tournament of her sophomore campaign already matching her tournaments played from last season.

Mary Langdon Gallagher and Esther Huffman look to continue their first-year excellence on the course. In only their first year on the team, Gallagher and Huffman rank third and fourth, respectively, in stroke average.

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