STARKVILLE, Miss. - Mississippi State looks to solidify its hold on second place in the SEC Western Division volleyball standings this weekend with a pair of matches at the Newell-Grissom Building. The Bulldogs (8-7/3-3 SEC) host the Georgia Bulldogs (7-10/3-4 SEC) Friday at 7 p.m. and the Auburn Tigers (9-8/3-4 SEC) Sunday in a 1 p.m. match being televised regionally by Cox Sports Television.
A program-first SEC weekend road sweep last weekend at Alabama and Ole Miss coupled with Georgia's 3-1 midweek win over Auburn helped Mississippi State climb into second place in the tight SEC Western Division standings. MSU enters the weekend a half-game behind defending divisional champ LSU (10-5/3-2 SEC) and in fifth place in the league's overall standings, a half-game ahead of both Georgia and Auburn.
Friday night's MSU-UGA match has been designated MSU Faculty/Staff Appreciation Night at the Newell-Grissom Building, where there is no charge for admission.
The Bulldogs, led by senior outside hitter Caitlin Rance (234 kills) and freshman Lainey Wyman (62 blocks), can surpass the team's 2010 SEC win total and tie the school record for consecutive league wins with a successful opening to their four-game home stand. Next weekend State hosts Kentucky in a Friday night match at Humphrey Coliseum to kick off "Maroon Madness" and on Sunday reurns to the Newell-Grissom Building to tangle with the 19th-ranked and SEC-leading Tennessee Volunteers (13-2/6-0 SEC).
Rance (29 kills/21 digs) and Wyman (20 kills/five total blocks), as they have for most of the season, set the Bulldog pace last weekend as State won in Tuscaloosa for the first time since 1998 and claimed a five-set thriller in Oxford in the program's first nationally-televised (ESPNU) match. But MSU was also sparked by key season-best performances from senior outside hitter Faith Steinwedell, who notched her first double-double of the year in the shutout win at Alabama, and from junior outside hitter Dani McCree, who delivered a season-best 10 kills in the hard-fought win at Ole Miss.
Led by Brittany Northcutt's double-double performance (14 kills/15 digs), Georgia bested Auburn 3-1 Wednesday night in an ESPNU-televised match in Athens. Northcutt has 182 kills on the season to head up a collection of five UGA players with 100 or more kills.
Sunday's match against Auburn has a special 1 p.m. start time to accommodate a live regional telecast by Louisiana-based Cox Sports Television. It's the second of a school-record four TV matches for the Bulldogs in 2011 and the first of two TV matches this fall at the Newell-Grissom Building. The Oct. 30 MSU-LSU match will be televised regionally by Comcast Sports Southeast.
STARKVILLE, Miss. - Looking to build on last Sunday's 2-0 upset of No. 20 Auburn, the Mississippi State soccer team heads to Athens Friday for a 6 p.m. match against Georgia.
Head coach Neil Macdonald's squad looks to take down another ranked foe on Sunday as it wraps the weekend against 15th-ranked Tennessee in Knoxville.
Fans can also follow this weekend's action on Twitter at twitter.com/mstateSOC and Facebook at facebook.com/mstateSOC.
The Bulldogs enjoyed a stellar SEC home-opening weekend, tying Alabama 2-2 before snapping Auburn's 10-match unbeaten streak on Sunday.
State earned four valuable points in the league standings while improving to 4-5-3 overall and 1-2-1 in SEC action.
Mississippi State's four-goal weekend was sparked by junior Jasmine Simmons, who gave the Dawgs the early lead against the Crimson Tide on Friday. The strike was the third of the year for the Oklahoma City native.
Sophomore Elisabeth Sullivan added the Dawgs' insurance goal against Auburn, vaulting her into a tie with Simmons for the points lead with two goals and three assists.
A pair of freshmen got into the scoring action against the SEC's Alabama-based schools. Shannen Jainudeen hit her first goal of the year with what proved to be the tying goal against Alabama. Brookhaven, Miss., native Amy Hoover netted her second goal of the year with the game-winner against Auburn.
State's defense turned in a pair of solid efforts on the MSU Soccer Field. Junior goalkeeper Skylar Rosson made 14 saves on the weekend and pitched her sixth-career shutout. Rosson stopped eight shots against the Tigers, including seven in the second half.
Now with 178 career stops, Rosson needs just one save to break into MSU's career top five.
Rosson and the MSU defense will need another strong outing against a Georgia squad that has won two of its last three games to sit at 8-4 overall and 2-2 in league play.
The SEC East Bulldogs feature one of the league's top scorers in Alexa Newfield, who enters the weekend tied with Tennessee's Caroline Brown for the most goals with nine. She also has five assists for an SEC third-most 23 points.
Georgia's defense is led by Ashley Baker in goal. She has saved 46 shots this season while surrendering 14 goals.
State stays in the Eastern Division next weekend as South Carolina and ninth-ranked Florida visit campus. Friday's match against the Gamecocks will be part of MSU's first Maroon Madness. Fans can go to a 6 p.m. Bulldog pep rally as part of Pumpkinpalooza in downtown Starkville before coming out to the MSU Soccer Field. Immediately following the Volleyball Bulldogs' match against Kentucky, fans can get their first glimpse of the 2011-12 men's and women's basketball teams.
TULSA, Okla. - Mississippi State's men's tennis team completed their first day of action in the main draw at the ITA All-American Championships Thursday, with a first round victory from 73rd-ranked James Chaudry highlighting the day.
In the opening round of main draw singles action, Chaudry squared off against California's Nick Andrews, ranked #45 in the ITA preseason polls. In an easy two-setter, Chaudry took down his Golden Bear foe 6-1, 6-2 to advance to the second round of the main draw. In his second round bout, Chaudry took on 11th-ranked Gonzalo Escobar of Texas Tech. Battling to three sets, Chaudry fell 6-4, 6-7(4), 6-4, ending a successful week that saw him win three matches just to qualify for the main draw.
Also in the main draw for State was 27th-ranked Bulldog George Coupland, who faced the #5 seed in 6th-ranked Will Spencer of Georgia. However, Spencer proved too much as Coupland fell in two sets 6-3, 6-2. #46 Malte Stropp of MSU fell to the #6 seed in Illinois' 7th-ranked Dennis Nevolo 6-1, 6-1. Mississippi State's Louis Cant, ranked 36th in ITA's preseason polls, took on Georgy Batrakov of BYU. After falling in the first set, Cant fought to keep the match alive as he went to a tiebreaker. However, Batrakov prevailed 6-4, 7-6(7) mark to take the match.
Despite the three first-round losses by Stropp, Coupland and Cant, all three Bulldogs rebounded with impressive consolation victories. Stropp topped Harvard's 78th-ranked Jonathan Pearlman 6-2, 6-3 while Coupland took down Ryan Thacher of Stanford, ranked 14th in the ITA preseason polls, 6-2, 6-4. In Cant's consolation matchup, he bested 26th-ranked Carlos Cueto of California 6-0, 7-5.
The second round of singles consolation action will begin Friday where Coupland will take on 111th-ranked Mousheg Havhannisyan of Pepperdine at 11:30 a.m. CT. Also, Cant faces third-ranked Eric Quigley of Kentucky at 9 a.m. CT while Stropp will battle Nelson Vick of Ohio State, ranked #60 in the ITA preseason polls, at 9 a.m. CT as well.
In main draw doubles play Thursday, the seventh-ranked and seventh-seeded MSU duo of Cant and Stropp was upset by #18 Phil Anderson and Jaden Anderson of New Mexico 8-3. The Bulldog pair will play in consolation action Friday.
Doubles consolation play will begin following the second round of consolation matches for singles Friday.