ULAR Nip Bulldogs 3-2 In Microtel Classic Finale

STARKVILLE, Miss. - Mississippi State battled Arkansas-Little Rock to the wire but came up short in a 3-2 decision in the championship match of the 2005 MSU/Microtel Classic. The Trojans (9-5) nipped State 19-30, 30-23, 20-27, 20-30, 15-13 to claim all three of its matches in the tournament and hand the homestanding Bulldogs (9-1) their first setback of the season. The loss ended MSU's longest winning streak since 2000.

"It was an exciting match and a good tournament, but it was disappointing to come up short in a close championship match," said second-year MSU head coach Tina Seals. "You have to give Arkansas-Little Rock credit. They have so many weapons and they were able to use them when they needed to. I was pleased to see the way we fought to the end, and that's what you like to see in a team. It's a good sign heading into conference play."

State opens its 16-match SEC schedule Friday hosting seventh-ranked Florida in a 7 p.m. match at the Newell-Grissom Building.

Orshi Kriegel delivered eight of her match-high 24 kills in the opening game of the championship match as State erased a 5-1 deficit to roll to a 30-19 win. The Trojans quickly evened up the count with an impressive showing in game two. Ana Carolin Buccini piled up 11 kills, one more than the Bulldogs registered as a team in the game, as UALR hit at match-best .415 team hitting rate en route to a match-evening 30-23 win. State never led in the second set and played from behind for most of game three, won by UALR 30-27.

State turned up its offense and kept the match alive with a solid 30-20 win in game four. Rachel Cooper¹s fourth kill of the period broke a 17-17 deadlock and the Bulldogs, hitting at a crips .389 clip, pulled even in the match.

Service errors proved to be the Bulldogs' undoing in the deciding fifth game. Orshi Kriegel had five of MSU's six kills, a number matched by UALR. But State service errors accounted for five of the Trojans' 15 points in a closely-contested 15-13 final set. For the match the Bulldogs misfired on 20 serves.

Kriegel finished with 24 kills and 14 digs while rachel Cooper reached double-double status with 14 kills and a team-high 20 digs. Jamie Joyner had nine kills and Eva Kriegel added eight to go with 16 assists and 14 digs. Megan Lukasek reached double figures with 15 digs, while freshman Nicole Palazzo and sophomore Erin Seago shared blocking honors with seven each.

Buccini finished with 17 kills and 26 digs to lead UALR in both categories. The Trojans held a 67-59 edge in kills and a 95-74 dig advantage on defense.

In Saturday's opening match, State hit at a .312 clip in blanking Tennessee-Martin 3-0. State fended off a determined Skyhawk challenge in winning the opening game 32-30 and then nailed down its ninth win of the campaign with 30-12 and 30-28 decisions. Sophomore Eva Kriegel turned in her third triple-double of the year with a match-high 14 kills, 16 assists and 12 digs on a .600 hitting outing. Her older sister, Orshi Kriegel, registered a double-double with 11 kills and 12 digs while Rachel Cooper added 12 kills and Jamie Joyner 10. Orshi Kriegel broke a 30-30 tie with a pair of kills that lifted State to the win in the opening game while senior Andrea Mead served for State's final 11 points in a 30-12 romp in game two. State bolted to a 6-1 lead in game three, fell behind briefly and pulled away at the end for a match-clinching 30-28 in game three.

Rachel Cooper and Jamie Joyner were named to the all-tournament team. Arkansas-Little Rock was represented by Ana Carolin Buccini, Amila Baracovic and MVP Iva Adzic. Rebecca Palmer of UT-Martin and Tara Cote of Louisiana-Lafayette rounded out the all-tourney team.

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