STARKVILLE, Miss. - Mississippi State came within a point of registering a straight-sets win over defending SEC Western Division champion Sunday at the Newell-Grissom Building. But the visiting Tigers scrambled back to take the third set and went on to top the Bulldogs in five sets, 15-25, 26-28, 26-24, 25-11 and 15-11. LSU improved to 15-8 overall and 8-5 in the SEC while State slipped to 10-13 overall and 5-9 in league play after absorbing its fifth consecutive loss.
"We did a lot of good things early in the match," said third-year MSU head volleyball coach Jenny Hazelwood. "But when you get that close you've got to find a way to finish. Our youthfulness got the best of us at times today. We've got to keep working hard and keep learning from matches like this."
Caitlin Rance, honored in pregame ceremonies for having recently joined MSU's elite 1,000-kill club, delivered 22 kills and with 11 digs and notched her team-leading 10th double-double of the year. Rance also enjoyed a career-best performance at the net with three solo blocks and five total blocks, helping the Bulldogs claim a 14-8 advantage in total team blocking.
But it was the only statistical edge for State. Madie Jones had 18 kills and Michele Williams added 16 more on a .324 hitting performance to help spark the Tigers to team leads in kills (70-51), attack percentage (.177-.160) and digs (69-53).
The Bulldogs hit a match-best and romped to an easy 25-15 win in the opening set. Three consecutive kills by Hannah Wilkinson during a 5-0 Bulldog run staked State to an early lead it would not relinquish. The second set featured three lead changes and 10 tie scores, but the Bulldogs prevailed, overcoming a 24-21 LSU lead and a trio of Tiger serves at set point before finally claiming the win and a 2-0 match lead at intermission with the help of a pair of LSU attack errors.
The final October match of the season match seemed to turn on an LSU comeback win in the third set. State jumped out to a 4-1 advantage and rode a five-kill effort by Rance to a 23-20 lead. The Tigers scored the next three, tying the score at 23-23 on a service ace by Helen Boyle. Boyle's next serve went awry, giving the Bulldogs a 24-23 advantage and a serve at match point. The Tigers, however, reeled off the next three points with a pair of kills and a block to keep the match alive with a closely-contested 26-24 win.
The Tigers built on that momentum shift in the fourth setting, putting together a 10-0 run midway int he period that led to a lopsided 25-15 match-evening LSU win. Jones single-handedly out-pointed the Bulldogs in the frame, tallying six kills to the Bulldogs' four.
State's Dani McCree came off the bench to deliver a pair of kills in the fifth set and the tandem of Rance and Lainey Wyman combined for a block that knotted the score at 10-10. But LSU ended the match with a 5-1 spree, wrapping up the two-hour affair with a pair of kills by Jones.
Hannah Wilkinson hit .417 and tallied 11 kills, all coming in the first three sets, while Lainey Wyman finished with 10 kills. Wilkinson, Wyman and Faith Steinwedell finished with four blocks each.
Hillary Parker paced MSU on defense with a match-high 15 digs.
LSU setter Malorie Pardo reached double-double status with 55 assists and 10 digs.
A pair of freshmen made their initial SEC starts for the Bulldogs. Setter Rachel Williams totaled 43 kills and seven digs while Sarah Temperilli added five digs.
The Bulldogs hit the road for their next four matches, testing nationally-ranked Kentucky (21-4/12-2 SEC) in Lexington Friday (6 p.m.) and SEC-leading Tennessee (20-3/13-1 SEC) in Knoxville Sunday (12:30 p.m.).
NICEVILLE, Fla. - Mississippi State's George Coupland and James Chaudry advanced to the round of 16 of qualifying singles action after third round victories at the USA F29 Future on Sunday.
In the third round of singles play, Coupland faced a tough opponent in Spencer Papa. Battling to take the match 6-2, 6-4, Coupland advanced to the round of 16 to be played Monday.
Also advancing for State was the junior Chaudry. Taking his match in the same fashion, 6-2, 6-4 from Shane Vinsant, Chaudry will compete in the round of 16 as well.
If the players win Monday, they will have earned a spot in the main draw, which begins Tuesday, Nov. 1.
STARKVILLE, Miss. - A clean slate is the motto of the Mississippi State cross country teams as they prepare for Monday's SEC Championships, hosted by Tennessee.
They know what's been done previously won't matter.
"The SEC, in any sport, is one of the most dominating conferences in the nation," coach Houston Franks said. "You are facing some of the best athletes in the world. When they line up to race, it doesn't matter who you've beaten before, it's all or nothing on that day."
Franks is confident that his teams are ready for that challenge and to give whatever necessary to succeed.
"I like where we are at headed into this meet," Franks stated. "Training has gone extremely well this fall, so I expect good things. We were fifth and seventh last year, and we want to better than that."
Led by All-SEC honorees Haley Greenwell and Renee Masterson, the Lady Bulldogs are looking to improve on their 2010 fifth place finish.
"We have some depth up front on the ladies' side," Franks commented. "Then you turn around and there is a group of talented freshmen and sophomores that can run with anyone on any course."
Highlighted by mainly freshman and sophomores, the Maroon and White men are looking forward to proving themselves in the ultimate test as they line up to compete on the Lambert Acres Golf Club course.
"Our men are built to rely on each other," added Franks. "We don't have anyone superstar, but as a collective group if they run well together and push each other then we are going to surprise some people."
Action begins on Monday at 10:00 a.m. with the men's 8K, followed by the women's 6K at 11:00 a.m.
GREENSBORO, N.C. - Behind freshman Fletcher Johnson's 1-over-par 145, the Mississippi State men's golf team posted a third-place 591 card in the weather-shortened Bridgestone Golf Collegiate at the Forest Oaks Country Club in Greensboro.
The Top 3 clip marks the best finish by a Bulldog squad since the spring of 2009 when MSU won the Mobile Bay Intercollegiate.
Johnson jumped into the spotlight in last week's David Toms Invitational and hasn't relinquished his spot. His 1-over-par 145 marks his second Top 10 finish in as many chances.
Axel Boasson trailed Johnson by only two strokes in his first action since the season-opening Sam Hall Intercollegiate. After turning in a 75 for round one, the sophomore rebounded to post a 72 and finish tied for 15th.
Senior Lee Heaton's 71 led the Bulldogs in round one, but he narrowly missed a Top 25 showing after carding a 78 during the final round.
Alex Rowland and Chad Ramey rounded out MSU's board with a 152 and 154, respectively. The duo entered the weekend as the team's top performers but struggled with the frigid temperatures on the East Coast.
Iowa State claimed the team title with a 297-285=582 performance. Albin Choi of North Carolina State garnered individual medalist honors with his 5-under-par 139 performance. He opened with a first-round 70 but sealed the deal with his 69 on Sunday.
Mississippi State concludes the fall with a 291.00 round average, slicing eight strokes off the previous spring's average.
Individually, Ramey and Rowland led the Bulldogs with scoring averages low enough to place them in the SEC's Top 10 for a majority of the fall. Johnson joined the scene late but showed his potential in only five rounds.
MSU returns to action Feb. 11 in the Gator Invitational at the Mark Bostsick Golf Course in Gainesville, Fla.
Fans can follow Mississippi State golf on Twitter @mstateMG and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/mstateMG.
AUSTIN, Texas - Just one week removed from one of the premier fields in collegiate golf, the Mississippi State women's golf team jumps right back into the fire at the Betsy Rawls Longhorn Invitational hosted at the par-72, 6,344-yard University of Texas Golf Club beginning Monday.
The Bulldogs will face SEC-foe and 42nd-ranked Arkansas as well as No. 20 Arizona, No. 40 Denver, No. 10 Florida, No. 36 Iowa, No. 37 Kent State, No. 39 New Mexico State, No 5. Oklahoma State, No. 41 Pepperdine, Princeton, No. 14 Texas, No. 38 Tulsa, UNLV and Wisconsin.
This is MSU's first appearance in the 38-year-old event. UCLA won the 2010 edition at 884, while Sarah Zwartynski of Texas A&M posted a 213 to claim the individual title.
"I am very excited to be back at my alma mater representing MSU and our golf program," MSU coach Ginger Brown-Lemm said. "Participating in an event that began back when I played means the world to me. The field is exceptional and the UT Golf Club is a formidable challenge for our young team."
Second-year head coach Brown-Lemm's lineup features Ally McDonald, Rica Tse, Mary Langdon Gallagher, Perry Katherine Furr and Esther Huffman.
First-year player McDonald has highlighted the Lady Bulldogs' lineup all season. Her 75.00 scoring average is sixth among SEC freshmen with at least nine rounds played. Her 4.67 average on par fives is tied for third in the nation.
Fellow freshmen Tse has also contributed to Mississippi State's No. 10 ranking in the nation in Top Freshmen according to Golf Stat. She owns a 78.33 average card.
Gallagher is appearing in her 14th-consecutive tournament and is the one of only two lady linksters to have 100 percent of her rounds counted this season.
Furr is the eldest and most experienced Maroon and White player, and she showed her experience during the SEC/PAC-12 Challenge as she chiseled eight strokes off first-round total by the final round.
After having shoulder surgery during the summer, Huffman is appearing in her first tournament of the fall. Last season, she made nine of 10 events and posted a 79.36 scoring average; the best on the team among underclassmen.
In recent events, the Lady Bulldogs have shown signs of their abilities and greatness to come. The team has struggled, though, to finish rounds. During last week's SEC/PAC-12 Challenge, MSU was 41-over-par.
"We are working hard on beginning and finishing better," Brown-Lemm said. "With us dropping 10-plus shots per round in the last three holes as a team, we just can't compete. We are working and will continue to work on staying committed to the process through the last putt."
Live stats will be available for the event beginning at 8:15 a.m. CST Monday through mstateathletics.com. MSU tees off on hole No. 10 at 9:27 alongside UNLV and Iowa.
Fans also follow the Lady Bulldogs throughout the tournament on Twitter @mstateWG and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/mstateWG.