STARKVILLE, Miss. - For the third time in three straight seasons, Mississippi State's men's tennis program finished among the top 5 in attendance during the 2011 campaign.
Posting a stellar top 20 finish this Spring, it comes as no surprise that MSU found themselves boasting an average of 618 spectators per match.
A major contributor to the high attendance was the 2011 Sorority Challenge. For every match, a sorority had the opportunity to provide hospitality and fight for the highest attendance amongst the other Greek members.
Greek life on campus was a major contributor in attendance but, the Bulldog tennis squad also possessed one of the most talented line-ups in the country.
Collecting the SEC West title, MSU was part of only six other collegiate programs to finish with four players ranked in the top 100 nationally. Southern California, Virginia, Ohio State, Tennessee and UCLA were the other five, all of which making the NCAA Tourney's Sweet 16 in Palo Alto, California. However, of these schools, Mississippi State is the only institution with all four players returning for the 2012 season.
With an impressive run and finish in the 2011 season and four players returning within the top 100, the Bulldogs seek to build upon their success and make a deep post-season run.
STARKVILLE, Miss. - A program-first trip to California and a 13-match home schedule highlight Mississippi State's 2011 volleyball schedule announced this week by third-year Bulldog volleyball coach Jenny Hazelwood.
Mississippi State travels to Stockton, Calif., Sept. 2-3 and meets first-time opponents University of the Pacific, Duquesne and Army in the University of the Pacific/Community Bankers Classic. It's the first visit to the Golden State for State, whose only previous journey to the Pacific Time Zone was a 2003 tournament trip to Oregon State.
"We're looking forward to the challenges that await us with this year's schedule," said Hazelwood. "With so many girls on our team from the Western United States, we are really excited to have an opportunity for their families and friends to come watch us play," said Hazelwood. "It is also great to play so many different teams for the first time. Playing new opponents really helps us grow as we continue to build a strong program at Mississippi State."
MSU returns four starters and four other letter-winners from last year's team, including senior outside hitter Caitlin Rance of Kingwood, Texas, who paced MSU with 403 kills and drew starts in all 31 matches last fall. State's roster also includes a pair of California natives, junior outside hitter Faith Steinwedell of La Jolla and sophomore outside hitter Dani McCree from Rialto as well as a pair of Arizona products, junior middle block Mandy Mellencamp of Prescott and freshman middle blocker Kristin Byers from Tucson.
The Bulldogs launch their 37th season of volleyball and a 13-match home schedule Aug. 26-27 when Mississippi State welcomes Southern Illinois, Tennessee-Martin and Southeastern Louisiana to the Newell-Grissom Building for the 2011 Mississippi State Maroon Classic. State's 2011 home schedule also features 10 Southeastern Conference weekend matches contested on Friday nights (7 p.m.) or Sunday afternoons (1:30 p.m.) during the upcoming season.
MSU also travels to Beaumont, Texas, Sept. 9-10 for a third early-season tournament, taking on host Lamar University, Baylor and Texas-El Paso in the Bulldogs' final non-conference competition of the 2011 campaign.
2011 MISSISSIPPI STATE VOLLEYBALL SCHEDULE
AUGUST: 26 SOUTHERN Illinois (7 p.m.), 27 UT-MARTIN (12:30 p.m.), 27 SOUTHEASTERN LOUSIANA (7 p.m.);
SEPTEMBER: 2 at Pacific (9 p.m.), 3 vs. Duquesne (12 p.m.), 3 vs. Army (7 p.m.), 9 at Lamar (6:30 p.m.), 9 vs. Baylor (10 a.m.), 10 Texas-El Paso (4:30 p.m.); 16 Florida (7 p.m.), 18 South Carolina (1:30 p.m.), 23 at Arkansas (7 p.m.), 25 at LSU (1:30 p.m.), 30 at Alabama (7 p.m.);
OCTOBER: 2 at Ole Miss (1:30 p.m.), 7 Georgia ( 7 p.m.), 9 Auburn (1:30 p.m.), 14 Kentucky (7 p.m.), 16 TENNESSEE (1:30 p.m.), 21 at South Carolina (6 p.m.), 23 at Florida (12:30 p.m.), 28 ARKANSAS (7 p.m.), 30 LSU (1:30 p.m.);
NOVEMBER: 4 at Kentucky (6 p.m.), 6 at Tennessee (12:30 p.m.), 11 at Georgia (6 p.m.), 13 at Auburn (1:30 p.m.), 18 OLE MISS (7 p.m.), 20 ALABAMA (1:30 p.m.)
Home games shown in all caps; all match times listed are CDT or CST
Home matches played at MSU's Newell-Grissom Building