News from MSU Media Relations--August 8

The lastest sports news from the MSU Media Relations Department...Men's Basketball, Softball, Volleyball and Soccer.

Men's Basketball
STARKVILLE, Miss. - Fans who have always wanted to experience life on the road with the Mississippi State basketball team will have that rare and exciting opportunity in December when Rick Stansbury's Bulldogs battle DePaul in Tampa, Fla., and UCLA in Anaheim, Calif.

Thanks to a collective effort between MSU and Total Sports Travel officials, fans can purchase a sports fanatic's dream package that includes hotel accommodations and travel on the team plane via Jet Blue out of Columbus, Miss., to Tampa and on to Anaheim, plus deluxe motorcoach accommodations to and from the games.

The private jet charter will depart Columbus' Golden Triangle Airport on Dec. 9 and return following MSU's game against the Bruins on Dec. 12. The cost is $1,995 for single occupancy and $1,675 for double occupancy. A special rate for children 17 and under has been set at $1,295.

"This will be great for our fans," said Stansbury, who is entering his 12th year at the helm of the MSU program. "They'll see two great games and get a feel for how we travel on the road."

Mississippi State, a projected Top 25 team that returns all five starters from last year's magical SEC Tournament championship run, plays DePaul in the SEC/Big East Challenge at 5:30 p.m. CT on Thursday, Dec. 10 before facing UCLA in the Wooden Classic on Dec. 12. Both games will be televised nationally.

For more information or to purchase this great package deal, fans can go to or call 1-888-367-8781.

"When we looked at the dates of these games, we felt this would be a great opportunity for our fans to travel with us and experience two great venues in a span of three days," MSU athletics director Greg Byrne said. "At the same time, we wanted to offer a package we felt was affordable, and Total Sports Travel did a tremendous job of putting a deal in place that we felt would be attractive to our fans.

The "Coast To Coast Package" features . . .

· December 9, 2009 - Private air charter via Jet Blue from Columbus, Miss., to Tampa, Fla., including light snack service and beverages
· Overnight stay at Embassy Suites - Tampa
· December 10, 2009 - Enjoy day on your own in Tampa
· Watch MSU vs. DePaul at 5:30 p.m. in the St. Pete Times Forum
· Private air charter via Jet Blue from Tampa to Anaheim, Calif., including light snack service and beverages
· Arrive in Anaheim and stay overnight at Anaheim Hilton
· December 11, 2009 - Enjoy day on your own in Anaheim, California
· December 12, 2009 - MSU vs. UCLA at time TBA in Honda Center
· Private air charter via Jet Blue from Anaheim to Columbus, including light meal service and beverages
· Deluxe motorcoach transportation included

STARKVILLE, Miss. - Two days after being named the top base stealer in NCAA Division I softball, Mississippi State's Chelsea Bramlett was named the National Fastpitch Coaches Association/Diamond Sports Catcher of the Year for the Division I ranks.

Bramlett claimed the award for the second-straight year after leading the SEC in batting average and topping the nation in stolen bases with a school-record 54. She also paced the squad with 55 runs scored.

Defensively, the three-time NFCA First Team All-American and two-time All-SEC selection posted a .990 fielding percentage behind the plate and threw out 14 runners as the Bulldogs earned the program's eighth NCAA Tournament appearance.

"It's great to see Chelsea recognized the top base stealer and catcher in Division I softball. She led us in nearly every offensive category last season, and she was instrumental in getting our offense going," MSU head coach Jay Miller said. "It's very difficult to win this award in consecutive seasons, so it's nice to see her receive this recognition. We are looking forward to her being back behind the plate this spring for her senior season."

The Cordova, Tenn., native recently completed her first stint playing for the United States National Team, helping the Jay Miller-coached squads to gold medals at the Canada Cup, World Cup of Softball and Japan Cup.

STARKVILLE, Miss. - Mississippi State assistant coach Karen Johns helped lead the United States Women's National Team to a 7-0 win over Cuba Thursday and the top seed in the Pan Am Qualifier playoffs in Maracay, Venezuela.

The U.S. concluded play in Pool A with a 9-0 mark, outscoring opponents 118-0. The team opens the playoffs against Canada, the No. 2 seed out of Pool B.

The winner of the USA-Canada match-up will face either Cuba or the host country.

STARKVILLE, Miss. - With a team photo session and a host of administrative duties completed Thursday, Mississippi State's Volleyball Bulldogs are set to get to work with preseason practices that begin Friday at the Newell-Grissom Building.

"We're all excited about getting started with our preseason practices," said first-year MSU head volleyball coach Jenny Hazelwood. "I sense that our players are eager to start putting their team identity together. They are extremely focused and know we have a great deal to get done before our opener August 28."

The Bulldogs entertain Arkansas-Little Rock, Jackson State and McNeese State August 28-29 in the season-opening Mississippi State Maroon Classic. State plays three of its school-record 17 home matches to open the 35th season of Mississippi State volleyball.

Hazelwood, who starred as a setter with the Volleyball Bulldogs during her record-setting four-year collegiate career (1996-1999), will be working with a solid blend of seasoned veterans and untested newcomers during what she terms "2-1/2-a-day" workouts. The Bulldogs will conduct a pair of team practice sessions and an individual/small group session daily throughout much of the preseason drills prior to the Aug. 17 start of classes on campus.

State's roster features a pair of senior standouts --- outside hitter Ioana Demian (Baia Mare, Romania) and setter Dorey Gray (Indian Harbour Beach, Fla.) along with eight other returning letter-winners. MSU's newcomers include a trio of Texas prep standouts, middle blocker Chanelle Baker (Carrollton, Texas), setter Hillary Parker (College Station, Texas) and middle blocker Dravon Rangel (Grand Prairie, Texas). Nine of State's 14 rostered players stand six-feet tall.

Sandwished between a pair of Saturday practices the MSU team has found time to join a campus-wide volunteer effort. The Volleyball Bulldogs will join dozens of other students and members of the MSU faculty and staff in assisting students with their move in to on-campus housing as part of Mississippi State University's "MVNU2MSU" program.

STARKVILLE, Miss. - Mississippi State head coach Neil Macdonald was pleased with his team's intensity, fitness and technical ability on Friday as the Bulldog soccer team opened preseason practice with morning and afternoon workouts on the MSU Soccer Field.

The squad opened fall camp Friday morning with a 1 ½ hour workout that included an intense fitness session followed by a 45-minute scrimmage. The Bulldogs' 11-player freshmen class got its first on-field action in the morning practice, challenging the veterans for a 15-minute stretch.

After getting a few hours out of the sweltering heat, the team returned to the field Friday afternoon and put in another solid effort in a session that lasted nearly two hours and focused on possession work.

"We have a group of players that are very good technically, and I can definitely see improvement from last year," Macdonald said. "It was great to see that they didn't let the heat affect their focus during the afternoon session. They really pushed hard and handled everything well. The freshmen did well for their first time out, but with all the new faces, it is going to take us some time to start clicking as a unit."

The Bulldogs, who return 10 starters from 2008, open the season hosting Mississippi Valley State on Aug. 23 in a match set for a 1 p.m. kickoff. Admission to all MSU home soccer matches is free.

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