News from MSU Media Relations--November 24

The latest sports news from the MSU Media Relations Department...Volleyball and Cross Country.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. - The 14th-ranked Gators survived an opening-set scare from Mississippi State and went on to register a straight-sets win (25-23, 25-16, 25-20) over the Bulldogs before 2,552 fans at UF's Stephen C. O'Connell Center.

MSU junior Ioana Demian turned in an impressive performance against the 17-time defending SEC champions. On a .273 hitting performance, Demian registered a match-high 15 kills, her third double-figure kills total in the last four matches. The Bulldogs also turned in one of their stronger performances at the net. Mandy Mellencamp had four block assists and Demian and Newsome added three each as MSU matched Florida in total team blocks 7-7.

"Our kids played hard tonight, and our freshmen didn't back down against one of the nation's top programs," said head coach Tina Seals. "Ioana did an excellent job hitting tonight, and (setter) Dorey Gray did a nice job spreading the ball around. The team chemistry was good tonight and we had a lot of freshmen that stepped up and competed well in their roles. "

State went toe-to-toe with Florida in the opening set. Demian tallied six kills and Ashley Newsome led a strong blocking performance in the set with three blocks. State reeled off five points with freshman Kelsey Nichols at serve, taking a 21-15 advantage on an ace by Nichols. Florida, after a pair of timeouts, went on a 7-0 run to knot the score at 21-21. Back-to-back kills by Demian gave the Bulldogs a 23-22 lead. But Florida scored the next three points, the third coming on a disputed set-ending touch call, to complete the opening-set comeback.

MSU led briefly in the early going of the second set before a 6-1 Gator surge put Florida up 11-5. Demian tallied five kills in the set, but 10 hitting errors stymied the State attack in a 25-16 second-set setback.

Florida bolted to an early 3-1 lead and never trailed in clinching the match with a 25-20 win in the third set. The Gators built up an solid lead at 19-11 before a spate of hitting UF errors let State back into the match and closed the gap to two points at 22-20. As it did in the opening set, the Gators closed out the set with three straight points, and again the set-winner was a disputed kill on a touch call against the Bulldogs.

Kelly Murphy led Florida eight eight kills. Cassandra Anderson had four assisted blocks and Elyse Cusack a match-high 14 digs. The Bulldogs got nine digs from Floridan Dorey Gray and finished with a 33-28 edge.

The Bulldogs close out their weekend SEC Eastern Division road run Sunday in Columbia, S.C, taking on the South Carolina Gamecocks in a 12:30 p.m. (CST) match at USC's Volleyball Competition Center. USC (20-8, 11-7 SEC), posted a 3-0 win (25-14, 33-31, 25-21) over Alabama Friday night in Columbia.

COLUMBIA, S.C. - South Carolina (21-8, 12-7 SEC) hit at a red-hot .536 clip Sunday afternoon en route to a convincing straight-sets win (25-10, 25-14, 25-8) win over Mississippi State (6-24, 1-18 SEC) at USC's Volleyball Competition Center. The win gave the Gamecocks a sweep of this season's two-match MSU-USC series.

Belita Salters and Ivana Kujundzic proved to be an unstoppable one-two punch for the Gamecocks, combining for 29 kills. Salters drove home 15 kills in 19 error-free attempts for a .789 attack percentage.

The Bulldogs got a team-best nine-kill performance from junior Ioana Demian, who hit .296 for the match. Freshman Mandy Mellencamp was next with four kills.

USC set the tone early, hitting at a .577 clip and did not have a hitting error in claiming the opening set. Kujundzic tallied seven kills as USC pulled away from a 4-4 deadlock to take a 25-10 win. The Gamecocks were only slightly less impressive in the second set, leading from start to finish and "cooling off" to a .500 hitting percentage in a 25-14 win that gave USC a 2-0 advantage at the break.

Freshman Grace Hoyt served up an ace to open the third set and give the Bulldogs their first lead of the afternoon. It was a short-lived lead, as the Gamecocks went on an 11-0 spree and finished the match with 10 straight points in a lopsided 25-8 win.

The 32 points scored on the afternoon by the Bulldogs was the lowest MSU point production in a match this for State, which is struggling to overcome a 16-match losing skid. USC led MSU 48-20 in kills, while the Gamecocks out-hit MSU .536 to .114. USC also held a 10-2 edge in service aces.

Mississippi State closes out its current three-match road run and its 2008 volleyball schedule Friday in Tuscaloosa, Ala., with a 7 p.m. match against Alabama (15-13, 8-11 SEC), which dropped a 3-0 decision Sunday at Florida.

Cross Country
STARKVILLE, Miss. - Mississippi State senior cross country runner Robert Scribner travels to Terre Haute, Ind., Monday for the 2008 NCAA Cross Country Championships.

The Tupelo, Miss., native will be the only Mississippi State Bulldog running the 10K event, which begins at 12:48 p.m. The championship is hosted by Indiana State University at the Lavern Gibson Championship Course located at the Wabash Valley Family Sports Center.

Scribner joins former Bulldog and 1982 SEC Cross Country Champion Simeon Kigen as the only male MSU athletes to compete in the NCAA Cross Country Championships.

"There is not an individual I can think of that deserves to represent Mississippi State University at the NCAA Cross Country Championships, than Robert Scribner," men's coach Steve Dudley said. "Robert is one of the most dedicated, hard-working athletes I have ever been around. He has and will represent Mississippi State well."

Scribner has been on a long journey that has led him to the NCAA meet. He has transformed himself into a national caliber distance runner and has more room to get better.

"He has a future far beyond NCAA's and can be successful on the national level," MSU coach Al Schmidt said.

Scribner feels very prepared going into the meet and feels his season peaked at the right point to prepare him for success on Monday afternoon.

"It's been a journey," he said. "I made a big breakthrough in my performance and training at the right time in order to get to nationals. I feel really good about Monday. My fitness is on the rise and it is definitely rewarding to reach NCAA's."

Gene's Page Top Stories