STARKVILLE, Miss. - After a dramatic comeback victory over Ole Miss this past Sunday, the Mississippi State women's basketball team will return home Thursday as they host the defending national champions and 13th-ranked Lady Vols of the University of Tennessee. Game time is set for 7 p.m. at Humphrey Coliseum with CSS providing regional television coverage.
The Lady Bulldogs are now 13-3 this season and are 1-1 in conference play. State is currently led in scoring by junior guard Alexis Rack who is averaging 14.1 points a game. Rack leads the SEC in three-point field goals a game with 2.6 and ranks second in the league in free-throw percentage, converting 87.5 percent. The junior guard also ranks fourth in the conference in assists with 4.7 a game. Senior Robin Porter is coming off a double-double performance, her second this season, with 17 points and 12 rebounds against Ole Miss. Junior Chanel Mokango set a school record with nine blocks against the Lady Rebels and has already set a school single season record with 56 rejections this season.
The Lady Vols (12-3), are coming off a 74-58 loss to Vanderbilt this past weekend. The Lady Vols are led in the scoring column by freshman Shekinna Stricklen who is averaging 13.4 points a game. Freshman Glory Johnson is adding 12.7 points a game while sophomore Angie Bjorklund is averaging 12.3 points a contest.
In 28 previous meetings, Mississippi State has not beaten Tennessee. The Lady Bulldogs will be playing the Lady Vols for the 13th time at home on Thursday. In the most recent meeting last season in Knoxville State fell to top-ranked Tennessee 72-46.
Following Thursday nights game, Sharon Fanning's Lady Bulldogs will travel to Lexington, Kentucky to take on Kentucky. The game is slated for a 3 p.m. CT tip.
STARKVILLE, Miss. - Mississippi State University Director of Athletics Greg Byrne has announced the hiring of Jenny Hazelwood as volleyball head coach at MSU. The hiring is pending the approval of the Board of Trustees, Institutions of Higher Learning.
Hazelwood, a record-breaking setter as a player at Mississippi State, joins the MSU athletics department after serving the past two seasons as head coach at Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, Tenn.
"I am extremely excited about the opportunity to return to the Bulldog family," said Hazelwood. "Mississippi State has played such a large role in who I am today, and I am more than ready to give back to such a wonderful community, institution and athletic department. I am eager to get to campus and begin working with the players that are already in place. We will train very hard every day we are in the gym in order to build the foundation necessary to win championships. And recruiting will be an immediate priority as we look to add talent and depth to our roster."
Hazelwood launched her coaching career on the NCAA Division III level at Mississippi College, serving as head volleyball coach of the Lady Choctaws in 2000 and 2001. At MC she was responsible for recruiting the American Southwest Conference East Division Freshman of the Year for 2000, 2001 and 2002.
She continued her coaching career at Centenary College in Shreveport, La., the smallest of the nation's NCAA Division I members. She earned Independent Coach of the Year national honors in 2002 after guiding her first Centenary team to a 13-win season despite inheriting but two players from the previous club that posted a three-win season. Two players from her 2006 team earned Mid-Continent Conference (now Summit League) All-Freshman honors, the first all-conference honors in volleyball at Centenary.
Hazelwood accepted the head coaching post at Austin Peay in 2007, where she followed up an 8-25 finish in her first season coaching the Lady Govs with college volleyball's most dramatic turnaround last fall. APSU registered a 22-11 finish, a 14-win improvement, and after being picked to finish ninth in the 10-team Ohio Valley Conference, surprised league foes with a third-place finish just one match out of first place. One of Hazelwood's prized recruits, junior outside hitter Stephanie Champine, was accorded first-team All-OVC and OVC All-Newcomer team honors and became the first Austin Peay player named to the American Volleyball Coaches Association's All-Midwest Region team.
Additionally, her 2008 team was selected by the league's coaches and players for the Ohio Valley Conference Sportsmanship Award.
A native of Pearland, Texas, Hazelwood was a standout performer as a setter playing for coaches Samye Johnson and Brenda Bowlin at Mississippi State from 1996 to 1999. She excelled on the court, setting still-active school records for assists in a match (83), a season (1,541) and a career (5,505). She ranks eighth in career digs at MSU and holds the distinction of registering the top three single-season assists totals at State, including the school-record 1,541 registered as a freshman in 1996.
Hazelwood also starred in the classroom at State, earning SEC Academic Honor Roll distinction in each of her four years at MSU and was honored as the 1999 recipient of the Newsom Award for academic excellence by a Bulldog volleyball player. She is a 2000 graduate of Mississippi State (education/fitness management) and earned a master's degree (applied communications) at Mississippi College in 2002.
She becomes the 10th head coach in Mississippi State volleyball's 34-year history.
Hazelwood is married to Clinton, Miss., native Brian Hazelwood, a former member of the Mississippi State football team and a four-year veteran arenafootball2 league placekicker. They have a daughter, Allison, 3.