STARKVILLE, Miss. - Caitlin Rance piled up a career-high 26 kills and joined MSU's career top 10 for kills as Mississippi State (9-8/4-4 SEC) rallied for a five-set win over SEC Western Division rival Auburn (9-9/3-5 SEC) Sunday afternoon at the Newell-Grissom Building. With the win, televised regionally by Cox Sports Television, Mississippi State moved into second place in the SEC West a half-game behind defending SEC champion LSU.
It was the third consecutive five-set Sunday win for the Volleyball Bulldogs, who with 12 league matches remaining have already surpassed their 2010 mark for SEC wins. State has now won three of its last four matches.
The Bulldogs claimed the opening set 25-22 and, after Auburn gained momentum in the match with 25-23 and 25-18 wins in sets two and three, battled back to win the match with 25-20 and 15-11 decisions in the final two stanzas.
"Caitlin was simply awesome," said MSU head coach Jenny Hazelwood of the standout senior from Kingwood, Texas. "All of our opponents know that she's our go-to player and she continues to find ways to lead the team. She had another incredible weekend (46 kills/22 digs/.307)."
With the Bulldogs trailing 2-1 in the match and 15-11 in the fourth set, Rance went to work, reeling off five kills and a block as State out-pointed Auburn 14-5 down the stretch to force a deciding fifth set. Rance had 10 of MSU's 23 kills over those final two sets.
Rance backed her personal-best 26 kills with 14 digs for her eighth double-double in 2011 and the 23rd of her career. Today she moved ahead of Brianne Smedley (1997-2000) for 10th place among MSU's career kills leaders and with 975 is closing in on becoming the 10th Bulldog to reach the 1,000-kill career milestone.
Auburn scored the first two points of the fifth set before State went to work, taking control with a 6-1 run sparked by a pair of kills and a block by freshman middle blocker Lainey Wyman. MSU extended lead to 13-9 and, with a crisp match-best .409 attack percentage, salted away the win with a 15-11 decision. Wyman registered 14 kills, hit .357 for the match and paced MSU at the net with five blocks. Steinwedell had 13 key kills and 14 digs to notch her second double-double of the season.
"Faith (Steinwedell) and Lainey (Wyman) were outstanding and HP (Hillary Parker) just missed a career-best mark for digs," Hazelwood continued. "We had so many contribute today, and we needed them all to beat a good Auburn team."
MSU lead Auburn 68 to 62 in kills, .249 to .228 in hitting and 77 to 72 in digs. The Tigers commanded control at the net with a 15-8 advantage in total team blocking.
State's junior libero Hillary Parker recorded a match-leading 27 digs, one shy of matching a personal-best.
A quartet of Tigers reached double figures in kills. Courtney McDonald and Kelly Fidero registered 13 each. Camila Jeronsky added 11 on 25 error-free attacks while Sarah Bullock finished with 11 and backed that on defense with 18 digs.
Mississippi State resumes its home stand this weekend, hosting Kentucky (16-3/7-1 SEC) in a 7 p.m. Friday night "Maroon Madness" match at Humphrey Coliseum and SEC-leading Tennessee (15-2/8-0 SEC) in a 1:30 p.m. match at the Newell-Grissom Building.
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - Despite a valiant effort, Mississippi State was unable to defeat a ranked opponent for the second-straight Sunday as the Bulldogs fell 2-0 to No. 15 Tennessee in Knoxville.
The loss dropped MSU to 4-7-3 overall and 1-4-1 in league play. Tennessee improved to 11-3 and 4-2.
Junior Lauren Morgan, sophomore Elisabeth Sullivan and junior Jasmine Simmons fired two shots each, with Morgan putting both of her first-half attempts on target.
Two days removed from a school-record 19 saves against Georgia, Rosson turned back seven attempts on Sunday. Lady Vols keeper Julie Eckel made five saves in the match.
"I think we were tired physically and mentally after such a tough match on Friday," Bulldog head coach Neil Macdonald said. "We fought hard and played a very good Tennessee team close for 90 minutes. We have to learn from this weekend and get back to work to prepare for another tough weekend at home against South Carolina and Florida."
Both teams traded possession for the first 16 minutes on Sunday, but Tennessee punched the deciding goal across with 29:55 left in the opening half. Kylie Bono took possession on the left side of the 18-yard box off a Bulldog turnover. She centered a ball to Emily Dowd, who volleyed a shot past Rosson for the 1-0 lead.
Morgan just missed finding Tarah Henderson for a Bulldog scoring opportunity in the opening session. The Keller, Texas, native sent a ball over the top of the defense that Eckel claimed just before Henderson could reach it.
The Lady Vols nearly scored a second goal midway through the opening half, but Bulldog senior Serena Prendergast cleared the ball off the line to keep the Tennessee lead at 1-0 going to halftime.
Rosson claimed an early second-half corner kick by the Lady Vols, and the Bulldogs countered to create a scoring opportunity. State worked the ball to Sullivan on the left side, but her attempt on the lower-left post was covered by Eckel.
Tennessee, however, converted with 41:08 left in the match. UT found Chelsea Hatcher seven yards out, and she beat Rosson to the left side of the net to extend the lead to 2-0.
The Bulldogs kept fighting, and a minute later Dana Forbes fired a shot that Eckel managed to save.
Rosson kept the match at 2-0 in the 57th minute as she stopped three UT shots in a three-minute span, including a point-blank attempt from Caroline Brown.
Mississippi State responded by pushing the ball into Tennessee territory, but an attempt from Jasmine Simmons carried wide while another shot from Amy Hoover was stopped by Eckel.
The Dawgs nearly connected with Sullivan again in the 66th minute, but the ball that skipped through the UT defensive line was cleared away. On the ensuing throw-in, Sullivan created a shot that carried just wide of target.
The Bulldogs return home next weekend, hosting South Carolina and No. 11 Florida. State challenges the Gamecocks at 7 p.m. Friday as part of the first Maroon Madness before wrapping the weekend against the Gators at 1 p.m. Sunday. Admission to all matches at the MSU Soccer Field is free.
MERIDIAN, Miss. - An explosion of offensive firepower and a combined two-hit shutout guided the Mississippi State softball team to a 10-0 victory over Marion Military Institute Sunday afternoon in front of a capacity crowd at Clarkdale High School. The Maroon and White improved to 2-0 during the first-ever statewide fall tour under new head coach Vann Stuedeman.
"The Clarkdale Bulldogs and their coach Rick Roberson made us feel right at home as if we were playing on our own field," Stuedeman said. "There was a mountain of maroon and white in the stands and I can't thank the hosts and the great city of Meridian enough for their outstanding support."
Junior Kylie Vry started on the mound, leading the pitching staff to a combined two-hit shutout. Fellow junior Stephanie Becker fanned five over three innings, giving her 11 total strikeouts in six full frames this fall. Sophomore Shana Sherrod struck out the side in her lone inning of work, while seniors Misty Flesher and Lindsey Dunlap each retired the side in their inning inside the circle.
At the dish, sophomore Sam Lenahan cranked a first-inning grand slam and added an RBI single to anchor the Dawgs' offense with five RBI. Junior Jessica Cooley also went yard for the first time this fall, finishing with a homer, double and two RBI. In all, every Bulldog player saw action in the victory.
The Bulldogs resume their first-ever fall statewide tour in Tupelo on Sunday, Oct. 16, for a 1 p.m. contest against Wallace State at the Veterans Sports Complex. Following the game, the team will provide a free softball clinic and shirt for the first 100 fans age 10-18.
LAS CRUCES, N.M. - With near record-setting performances a year ago, the Mississippi State women's golf returns to Las Cruces on Monday for the Price's "Give ‘Em Five" Invitational at the par-72, 6,258-yard New Mexico State Golf Course.
In last year's edition the Lady Bulldogs posted the program's second-lowest tournament total (882), third-lowest two-round total (588), fourth-lowest first round (297) and fifth-lowest round (291).
Individually, MSU was led by then-senior Erika Thornton and current-sophomore Mary Langdon Gallagher, both of which posted a 3-over-par 219 and tied for 11th.
Gallagher will once again be making the trip west along with Perry Katherine Furr, Ally McDonald, Rica Tse and Elena Warren.
Furr also shined in the 2009 version of the New Mexico-hosted event when she posted her career-low round of 73.
The Maroon and White freshman trio looks to improve off a strong, but shaky start to the season. McDonald is the current team leader in stroke average after her pair of 77's earned a Top 25 finish in the season-opening Bettie Lou Evans Invitational.
Warren's 78 and Tse's 79 are the Lady Bulldog's second- and third-best rounds on the early season.
24th-ranked Baylor leads the 16-team field while other teams include Boise State, Central Arkansas, Cincinnati, Colorado State, Hawai'i, Idaho, Long Beach State, New Mexico State. North Texas, Seattle, SMU, UC-Irvine, Utah Valley State and UTEP.
Live stats will be not be available for this event, but fans can follow Mississippi State golf on Twitter @mstateWG and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/mstateWG.