MSU Volleyball Rallies to Stay Unbeaten

DAYTON, Ohio --- Senior outside hitter Rachel Cooper piled up a career-high 24 kills Friday as Mississippi State rallied to turn back Indiana State (0-8) in the opening round of the Marriott Flyer Invitational at the University of Dayton.

Orshi Kriegel backed Cooper's effort with 20 kills as MSU extended its season-opening win streak to 5-0.

The Sycamores took advantage of poor Bulldog serving in claiming 30-25 and 31-29 wins in the opening two games. But State hit at a match-best .395 in notching a 30-22 win in game three and sent the match to a fifth game with a 30-23 decision in game four. State, playing in its first five-game match of year, put the match away with a 15-12 win in the deciding fifth game.

"Hopefully this will be a good learning experience for us," said second-year head coach Tina Seals. "I was disappointed that we struggled so badly serving the ball early in the match, but I was very proud of the team for hanging tough and battling on to the end. It can be good to have matches like this to help prepare us for tough situations we'll face once we hit conference play."

State's struggles at the service stripe were most evident in the opening game when the Bulldogs misfired on seven serves. State out-hit ISU .262 to .188 in the opening game and held a .204 to .024 hitting advantage in game two. But ISU overcame a pair of eight-point State leads and out-pointed the Bulldogs 6-1 down the stretch in winning game two 31-29.

The Bulldogs hit at a match-best .395 clip and Orshi Kriegel delivered seven of MSU's 18 kills in MSU's 30-22 win in game three and the Bulldogs broke a 23-23 deadlock with a 7-0 run to even the match with a 30-23 win in game four.

Mississippi State trailed only briefly in the deciding fifth game as Cooper drilled five more kills, raising her match total to a career-best 24. The Roscoe, Ill., product added 10 digs to complete her 35th career double-double. Both Orshi and Eva Kriegel reached double-double status, with Orshi tallying a career-best 20 kills and 11 digs and younger sister Eva pacing MSU with 36 assists and adding 10 digs. Sophomore libero Megan Lukasek paced MSU on defense with 18 digs.

Sophomore middle blocker Erin Seago had nine kills on a .421 hitting performance and led MSU at the net with six blocks.

Christy Trame had 15 kills and seven total blocks while Kristy Cox tallied a match-high 21 digs to give the Sycamores a 78 to 61 edge on defense.

State had a combined 10 service errors in the first two frames when ISU out-pointed MSU 17-0 at the serving line. But the Bulldogs got back on track with nine aces down the stretch, four by Eva Kriegel.

The Bulldogs continue play in the Marriott Flyer Classic Saturday, taking on Virginia at 1 p.m. (EDT) and host Dayton at 7:30 p.m. (EDT).

Mississippi State 3, Indiana State 2

MSU (5-0) 25 29 30 30 15
ISU (0-8) 30 31 22 23 12

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