STARKVILLE, Miss. - After a run of eight consecutive matches away from home over the past three weeks, Mississippi State's Volleyball Bulldogs (5-6, 0-2 SEC) open their 10-match SEC home schedule Wednesday night, hosting SEC Western Division rival Alabama (5-6, 2-0 SEC) in a 7 p.m. match at the Newell-Grissom Building. It's the lone midweek match at home this season for Mississippi State, with all remaining home matches set for Friday night's or Sunday afternoons.
After dropping 3-1 road decisions last weekend at Kentucky and Tennessee, the Bulldogs hit the court in search of their initial SEC win and a second straight home court victory over Alabama. MSU won five of its final six home SEC matches en route to a school-record eight conference wins in 2006, including a 3-0 verdict over eventual NCAA entrant Alabama. Senior opposite hitter Jamie Joyner has been the Bulldogs' top offensive performer in 2007. The St. Louis, Mo., native leads the team with 154 kills and a .302 hitting percentage. Joyner registered two of her top three career kills performances last weekend, matching a career-equaling 21 kills at Kentucky and following that up with a 19-kill effort Sunday at Tennessee.
Junior outside hitter Cristina Jucan of Cluj, Romania, matched a season-best with 16 kills and added 14 digs to knotch her team-leading fifth "double-double" of the season at Kentucky. She leads the team with 20 service aces and ranks second on the club with 135 kills and 108 digs. Senior libero Megan Lukasek paces MSU on defense with 172 digs while senior Lauren Kowal, with 10 block solos and 19 assisted blocks, paces MSU at the net with 29 total blocks.
Wednesday's match with Alabama begins a four-match homestand for State. The Bulldogs entertain another SEC Western Division rival, Arkansas, Friday at 7 p.m. and next weekend play host to No. 6 Florida and South Carolina.