STARKVILLE, Miss. - The Bulldogs close out their first weekend of SEC volleyball competition and a two-match September home schedule Sunday as Mississippi State (5-5, 0-1 SEC) take on the South Carolina Gamecocks (9-1, 0-0 SEC) in a 1:30 p.m. match at the Newell-Grissom Building.
State went toe-to-toe with perennial league power Florida (8-2, 1-0 SEC) in Friday night's league opener before dropping a closely-contested 3-0 decision to the seventh-ranked Gators. State owned a 20-16 lead in the opening set before bowing 25-20 and was a point away from a third-set win at 24-22 before Florida went on a match-closing 4-0 run. The match drew 1,009 fans to the Newell-Grissom Building, the facility's second-largest volleyball crowd overall and its largest in Southeastern Conference competition.
Senior outside hitter Caitlin Rance shared team honors in kills with freshman middle Lainey Wyman, each registering 10 point-producing swings. Rance, now with 174 kills on the campaign, averages .470 kills per set, second-best in the SEC. Wyman paced MSU at the net with four blocks, raising her SEC-leading total blocks number to 45. Senior Hannah Wilkinson delivered seven kills on nine error-free swings to raise her seasonal attack percentage to a league-best .488.
Florida's Kelly Murphy finished with 10 kills, 11 digs and 19 assists to notch her third triple-double of the season.
South Carolina, with nine wins in its 10 pre-conference matches, has already surpassed its 2010 season wins total. The Gamecocks average 15.09 kills per set, tops in the SEC.
The Bulldogs play their next four matches on the road over the next two weekends before resuming home play Oct. 7/9 hosting Georgia and Auburn.
STARKVILLE, Miss. - With a crisp chill in the air, Mississippi State laced up to host the Bulldog Invitational, and after all was said and done it was a Maroon and White sweep.
Both the men's and women's teams navigated the Jimmy Taylor Cross Country Course perfectly to claim victories, with the men earning 20 points and the women posting 15 points in their victory. MSU also dominated the Top 10, with the women claiming eight out of 10 spots, while the men took six of the 10.
"Today was probably the best race we've run as a team," coach Houston Franks said. "I am happy about the improvement. We have some young groups, and they are really learning to race as a team."
Haley Greenwell defended her Bulldog Invitational title, as she ran 17:48.77 to collect the victory. The Lady Bulldogs claimed the Top 6 spots, with Renee Masterson (18:07.24) in second, Anna Jarman with a personal best 18:25.03 in third, Jodie McGuff (18:32.84), who also ran a personal best, in fourth, Emma Neigel with a personal best 18:39.20 in fifth and Madeline Takahashi placing sixth with er personal best time of 18:50.96.
"I'm happy with myself, as well as the team," Greenwell stated. "Today was a great way to show our school, Starkville and the whole state how hard we've been working."
"I'm so excited to be a part of something great," said Masterson. "I came to Mississippi State with a young team and it seems every year we are building on previous success. I think we are the best we've ever been."
Cameron Vernier was the top finisher for the Bulldogs, as he placed third with a personal best 25:36.70. Juan Sanchez (25:39.70) followed Vernier across the line in fourth. Rounding out the Top 10 for the Bulldogs was John Valentine (25:40.34) in fifth, Philip Johnson (25:42.75) in sixth, Nathan Lewis with a personal best 25:43.48 in seventh and Carter Hewitt, who finished eighth with a personal best 25:44.99.
"We really helped each other to stay strong throughout the tough parts of the race," Verneir commented. "Everyone improved across the board to give us a good start to the season."
"As a team we did great," added Sanchez. "It felt really good to hear everyone's name called as they crossed the finish line."
MSU has the next two weeks off to celebrate their sweep and prepare for their next meet. On September 30, the teams will travel to Bethlehem, Penn., for the Paul Short Invitational.