Volleyball Bulldogs Capture Second Tourney Title

DAYTON, OHIO -- Mississippi State knocked off Virginia 3-0 and tourney host Dayton 3-2 Saturday to claim the 2005 Marriott Flyer Invitational held at UD's Frericks Center. It was the second straight tournament title for the Volleyball Bulldogs, who extended their season-opening win streak to seven matches.

"I am so very proud of this team," said coach Tina Seals. "They faced some adversity and played against some outstanding opponents and came away with another tournament championship. What excites me so much is the team chemistry that I am seeing. It would be hard to single out any individuals for their play because this was a team win. Everybody had roles to play and everybody contributed."

A trio of Bulldogs made the all-tournament team --- sophomore Eva Kriegel, junior Orshi Kriegel, and senior Rachel Cooper, who was selected tournament MVP.

Mississippi State enjoyed its best offensive performance of the year, hitting at a .328 clip Saturday in blanking Virginia (2-3) 3-0 (30-28, 30-26, 30-25) in Saturday's first match. State then turned back host Dayton (4-6) in five games (30-26, 17-30, 30-28, 26-30, 15-10).

State trailed throughout the opening game, falling behind by as many as six points before pulling even at 25-25 on a kill by Eva Kriegel. Kriegel gave State its first lead of the game at 28-27 with a service ace. Rachel Cooper had seven 5 kills of her match-high 19 kills on an error-free opening game showing and the Bulldogs hit at a .390 rate in taking the opening set.

Cooper had two early kills in the second game as Mississippi State jumped out to a 3-0 lead and never trailed in winning 30-26. MSU led by as many as nine points twice in the second stanza but had to fend off a determined charge by the Cavaliers. UVA battled back to tie the match at 25-25 on back-to-back kills by Sarah Kirkwood. But the Bulldogs out-scored Virginia 5-1 the rest of the way, getting a pair of clutch kills by Orshi Kriegel and nailing down the win with a service ace by Ohio native Andrea Mead. Cooper delivered seven kills and Jamie Joyner added five to pace State.

The Bulldogs and the Cavaliers engaged in a close battle through the first half of the third game. But State pulled away from a 15-15 deadlock midway through the period and led by as many as six at 25-19 before Megan Lukasek's service ace at match point sealed the MSU win in State's first-ever meeting with Virginia.

In addition to Cooper's 19 kills, State got 13 kills and 12 digs from Orshi Kriegel and 10 kills from sophomore Jamie Joyner. Lukasek had a match-leading 21 digs and Andrea Mead added 13 as MSU held a 64-58 edge in digs. Orshi Kriegel and Erin Seago had two blocks each.

Sarah Kirkwood had 15 kills and Melissa Caldwell 15 digs to lead Virginia.

The title match featured a see-saw battle, with the teams alternating wins in each of the five games. State commanded an early match lead, hitting .286 and riding Eva Kriegel's seven kills to an easy 30-26 win in the opening game. But the Flyers rebounded impressively, forcing 13 Bulldog hitting errors en route to a match-evening 30-17 win in game two. State hit at a frosty minus .162 in the set.

The Bulldogs got back on track offensievly in game three, hitting .459 out of the break and erasing a 27-24 deficit to win 30-28.

Dayton refused to quit, maintaining a lead for much a a close battle in the fourth stanza and pulling away from a 25-25 deadlock to win 30-26 and force a deciding fifth game.

Orshi Kriegel had four of her match-high 18 kills in game five to spark MSU to its 15-10 match-clinching win. A season-high 21 service aces in the match proved costly, but it was a service ace at match-point by Megan Lukasek, State's eighth ace of the match, that gave MSU its second road tournament title in as many weeks.

Rachel Cooper had 14 kills and Eva Kriegel registered here second triple-double of the campaign with 11 kills, 11 digs and 35 assists. Megan Lukasek had 18 digs to pace MSU on defense while Andrea Mead added 11 digs. Freshman Nicole Palazzo turned in her strongest performance at the net with six total blocks, a team-high.

Faye Barhorst led UD with 15 kills while Robynne had 11 kills and six blocks and Angela Rueve had a match-high 23 digs.

State returns to action in the Newell-Grissom Building this weekend hosting the 2005 MSU/Microtel Classic. Tennessee-Martin meets Arkansas-Little Rock at 4:30 p.m. and host MSU entertains Louisiana-Lafayette at 7 p.m. in Friday's first round matchup.


MISSISSIPPI STATE (6-0) 30 30 30
VIRGINIA (2-3) 28 26 25

MISSISSIPPI STATE (7-0) 30 17 30 26 15
DAYTON (4-6) 26 30 28 30 10

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