STARKVILLE, Miss. - Mississippi State got 12-kill performances by Caitlin Rance and Ashley Newsome Friday night but the Bulldogs came up on the short end of a 3-1 SEC volleyball decision to the Kentucky Wildcats. UK (14-11, 8-7 SEC) completed a season series sweep over State (11-14, 3-11 SEC) with the win, prevailing 25-17, 18-25, 25-19 and 25-18.
Rance notched her team-leading ninth double-double with 12 kills and 15 digs while Newsome backed her 12-kill, .296 hitting performance with five kills. Mandy Mellencamp came off the bench and contributed eight kills, her second-highest total of the season, while Chanelle Baker finished with seven.
The Bulldogs continue weekend conference play at the Newell-Grissom Building Sunday hosting Tennessee (20-5, 11-4 SEC) in a 1:30 p.m. CST match.
State's recent offensive struggles continued in the opening set when the Bulldogs managed but nine kills and hit at a coolish .053 rate. UK, led by Whitney Billings' six opening set kills, used a 9-2 spree to pull away from a 3-3 deadlock and take a 25-17 win. State bounced back impressively to knot the match with a 25-18 win. The Bulldogs hit a match-best .361 and rode a six-kill, error-free showing by Rance in the stanza.
But the Wildcats returned from intermission and regained command of the match quickly. UK raced to a 4-0 advantage in the third set and never trailed in registering a 25-19 win and then used an early 7-0 run to gain control of the match-clinching fourth set. Becky Pavan drilled five of her match-high 13 kills to lead UK to the 25-18 win in the fourth stanza.
Kentucky compiled a 53-45 lead in the kills, a got a match-best 21-dig showing by Stephanie Klefot en route to a 77-70 bulge in digs. UK was strong at the net as well, building a 12-10 advantage in total team blocks. Newsome finished with five blocks and shared match honors with UK's Christine Hartmann. The Bulldog senior registered three solo blocks to raise her career total to 74 and tie Theresa D'Antoni for second place among State's career leaders in solo blocks.
STARKVILLE, Miss. - Next Friday, Mississippi State officially begins its 99th season of basketball. Saturday, however, fans can catch an early preview when the Bulldogs host Lindsey Wilson in exhibition play, with tip at Humphrey Coliseum slated for 2 p.m.
Saturday also marks the 13th season at the helm for Rick Stansbury, who enters the 2010-11 campaign with 255 wins, 14th most in SEC history.
"Like I've said many a time, this is the time of the year we like as coaches," Stansbury said. "I know where I'm at every day when we go out on that practice floor at 3:00 or 3:30. From March to October, we don't know where we are at every day. And it's different every year putting together a different group of guys, a different group of players. And this year it's even more different without some of your players early.
"So, as always, if you're not excited this time of year, you're probably in the wrong profession."
The Bulldogs are coming off a 24-12 campaign where they won the Western Division crown for the seventh time in school history and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
Three starters are back from that team, including seniors Ravern Johnson and Kodi Augustus. The third starter, Dee Bost, won't be eligible until the SEC portion of the schedule begins Jan. 8 against Alabama.
As a junior, Johnson averaged 13.2 points and drained a career-best 87 3-pointers, the third most in a single season at MSU. He's also just 103 made treys from tying Barry Stewart's school record of 280, and needs just 32 more points to become the 32nd Bulldog player to reach 1,000 for a career.
Augustus averaged 8.9 points a year ago and was second in rebounding (5.4) and blocked shots (35).
Also back are key reserves from a year ago, guard Riley Benock and forwards Wendell Lewis and John Riek. And after sitting all but four games due to a severe ankle injury, junior forward Elgin Bailey returns.
Bailey and Benock were also voted team captains back in October, and both are also expected to draw starts against the Blue Raiders.
"I think he's kind of sat back in Barry Stewart's shadow for three years, and it's his personality to not to be too assertive or too aggressive," Stansbury said of Benock. "But this team needs it. He's smart. Defensively, he's in the right position most of the time. He's a guy that makes the extra pass offensively; he sees the next play happening before it happens."
Lindsey Wilson, under the direction of 9th-year coach Paul Peck, posted a 14-17 ledger last season. They return two starters, including guard Kalen Kimberland, who averaged 10.2 points and dished out 55 assists while collecting 30 steals.
PENSACOLA, Fla. - Tanner Stump, a senior on the Mississippi State men's tennis team, picked up a very strong win in qualifying play at the Pensacola Futures today in Pensacola, Fla.
Stump was able to rebound after dropping the first set to Nikolai Haessig, 6-2, winning the next two sets in solid fashion, 6-4, 6-2, to clinch the victory. Haessig was the Canadian national champion in the under-18 division and was ranked as high as 57th in the world junior rankings.
Two other Bulldogs also picked up victories in qualifying play at the Pensacola Futures. George Coupland, a junior for the Maroon and White, blanked his opponent Mujtaba Khan in both sets, 6-0, 6-0, to advance in qualifying play. True freshman Zach White won in identical-sets, 6-2, 6-2, over Sumner Chase.
MSU will continue qualifying play at the Pensacola Futures on Saturday and results will be made available at www.mstateathletics.com.
STARKVILLE, MISS. - Carrying mini cowbells adorned with the number 36 in honor of Nick Bell, Mississippi State's women's golf team battled their toughest tournament field yet this season in the Pac-10/SEC Challenge at the Stanford Golf Course in Stanford, Calif.
After round one of the tournament, the Lady Bulldogs posted a 319 and are in 20th place.
Erika Thornton again leads the Lady Bulldogs in the first round with a 4-over-par 75. Freshman Esther Huffman followed Thornton's round by shooting an 80. Maria Roos, Mallory Batson and Mary Langdon Gallagher shot 81, 83 and 85 respectively.
Mississippi State tees off round two at 9:10 CT on Saturday and live stats will be made available at www.MStateAthletics.com.