"You are never satisfied with a loss, but I was extremely pleased with our team's effort and fight on the court tonight," said second year MSU head coach Tina Seals. "Florida is so talented and has so many highly-skilled and experienced athletes. But we were able to jump out and get the win in the opening game and battled to the end in game four. We weren't able to get a win, but I think we saw the potential that this team has."
Outside hitters Orshi Kriegel and Rachel Cooper registered double-doubles to lead the Bulldogs. Kriegel had nine of her match-high 22 kills in the opening game as State pulled away from a 24-24 tie for a 30-27 win. Kriegel also finished with 10 digs. Cooper had six kills in game one and finished with 13 for the night. the MSU senior added 16 digs to register her 37th career double-double.
Florida raced to 11-4 leads in both the second and third sets to take a 2-1 lead in the match. The Gators hit at a match-best .389 clip in the third stanza and Kisya Killingsworth delivered five of her 13 kills in the frame. Killingsworth took match honors at the net with seven blocks, including four solos.
After falling behind 3-1, State rallied to lead for much of the fourth game, thanks to another seven-kill effort in the set by Orshi Kriegel. But the Gators expanded a 24-23 lead down the stretch on the strength of four Jane Collymore kills to put the match away. Collymore finished with 19 kills and 19 digs.
Jamie Joyner had 11 kills to join Kriegel and Cooper in twin-figures. Megan Lukasek had 16 digs to share team honors on defense with Cooper. Sophomore Eva Kriegel had 13.
"This was a great team effort for our team," said Seals. "We used all 12 of our available players, and every one of them contributed. It was great to get Taylor Noland into the match for her first collegiate competition. She's been battling an ankle injury and really helped provide some depth for us tonight at the middle blocker position."
Florida's win in the two-hour, 16-minute struggle was its 27th in as many meetings with Mississippi State.
The Bulldogs conclude their opening SEC weekend competition and a five-match homestand Sunday, hosting Georgia in a 1:30 p.m. match at the Newell-Grissom Building.
FLORIDA 3, MISSISSIPPI STATE 1
UF 27 30 30 30 (11-1, 1-0 SEC)
MSU 30 17 19 26 (9-2, 0-1 SEC)