STARKVILLE, Miss. - The Mississippi State soccer team hits the road for the first time this season as it travels to Fairfax, Va., to challenge Georgetown and George Mason as part of the 2008 Mason Tournament.
The Bulldogs, who take a 2-1 record on their inaugural road trip, meet the Hoyas Friday at 2 p.m. CST and host George Mason Sunday at 10 a.m. CST.
State scored a Southeastern Conference fourth-best seven goals during the season-opening homestand, with all seven coming from different Bulldogs. Sophomores Leanna Baldner and Hadley Gable have found the back of the net this season along with seniors Kevyn Shelledy and Mary Kate Ayers. The other three goals have come from freshmen Tarah Henderson, Taylor Turnipseed and Serena Prendergast.
The Bulldogs have out-shot the opposition 67-26 so far in 2008, and junior Taryn Holland has been exceptional in goal, halting an SEC fourth-best 11 shots for a 0.97 goals against average that rates seventh best in the league.
The M-State defense will have to continue its feisty play this weekend, meeting a Georgetown squad on Friday that is receiving votes in all four polls following a 3-0 start to the season. The Hoyas meet the Bulldogs fresh off a D.C. Invitational title in which they knocked off UMBC 7-0 and Ohio 2-1. Samantha Baker paces the GU attack, having notched a team-leading six goals on the season. Sara Jordan and Toni Hudson have tallied a pair of goals apiece. The Hoyas have played three different goalkeepers this season, with Jackie DesJardin leading the way with seven saves in 190 minutes.
George Mason, a perennial power on the national scene, opens its home slate looking to claim its first victory of the season after early losses to Virginia Tech, Maryland and UNC Greensboro. The Patriots have been out-scored 13-3 so far in 2008, with Kelly Keelan leading the way with two goals. She also sees time in goal behind Melissa Mailley, who has allowed 11 goals on 17 opportunities.
Live statistics for both of State's outings will be available at www.mstateathletics.com.
STARKVILLE, Miss. - Mississippi State embarks on its first road trip of the new season this weekend and pays its first visit to Lake Charles, La., when the Volleyball Bulldogs (2-1) compete in the McNeese State Cowgirl Invitational Tournament.
In Friday's opening day of competition, State tangles with instate rival Southern Miss (3-0) at 11:30 a.m. and tests host McNeese State at 7 p.m. The Bulldogs then square off against Grambling State in a 1:30 p.m. match Saturday before closing out the weekend slate at 6:30 p.m. against Louisiana-Lafayette. All of the matches will be contested at McNesse State's Memorial Gym.
The Bulldogs took runner-up honors in last weekend's season-opening MSU Classic at the Newell-Grissom Building. State registered straight-set wins over Arkansas-Pine Bluff and Troy University before bowing to Colorado in the championship match. Veteran outside hitters Cristina Jucan (Cluj, Romania) and Ioana Demian (Baia Mare, Romania) represented State on the all-tournament team. Jucan tallied 33 kills and a 3.67 kills per set average, the fourth-best average in the SEC. Sophomore middle blocker Ashley Newsome (Florence, Ala.) totaled 12 blocks and ranks third in the league with a 1.33 blocks-per-set average.
Two of Missisippi State's school-record nine freshmen --- opposite hitter Faith Steinwedell (LaJolla, Calif.) and middle hitter Mandy Mellencamp (Prescott, Ariz.), drew starts in all three matches. Steinwedell finished the weekend with 22 kills and a team-leading .298 hitting percentage, while Mellencamp served up a team-leading five aces. The Bulldogs' average of 2.22 aces-per-set is the second-best team average for aces in the SEC. Five of MSU's nine yearlings saw court time on opening weekend.
Following the McNeese State tournament, Mississippi State travels to Jackson, Miss., Tuesday, Sept. 9 to take on the Jackson State Tigers. The Bulldogs then return to action in Starkville, hosting Centenary, Central Arkansas and Memphis Sept. 12-13 in the MSU Bulldog Club Invitational.