Dogs Continue Offensive Improvement In 3-1 Loss To Alabama

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Taylor Scott registered her seventh double-double on the season with 15 kills and 17 digs against Alabama.
Photo Courtesy of Bill Simmonds

STARKVILLE, Miss. - Mississippi State snapped one streak but fell short in a bid on another Sunday afternoon, dropping a closely-contested 3-1 decision to SEC Western Division foe Alabama at the Newell-Grissom Building.

State (4-20, 0-15 SEC) ended a 32-set dry streak by taking the opening set 25-22 from the Crimson Tide before Alabama (15-12, 4-11 SEC) battled back to claim the next three sets 26-24, 25-17, 25-23. It was the 16th consecutive setback for the Volleyball Bulldogs.

Freshman Taylor Scott notched her team-leading seventh double-double with 15 kills and 17 digs, leading a foursome of Bulldogs with double-digit kill totals. Dani McCree matched a career-high with 14 kills while Chanelle Baker followed with 11 and Lainey Wyman 10.

"Today was definitely a huge push forward for us," said fourth-year MSU head coach Jenny Hazelwood. "We did a lot of great things offensively again... even a step further than Friday night. We had four players with double-figure kills and another who was just one off of that, and that's the style of offense we want to see... a bunch of players getting a lot of kills for us."

Freshman libero Roxanne McVey, the SEC's leader in digs, registered her third-high digs total and eighth of 25 or better with 37 scoops against the Crimson Tide. Sunday she raised her league-leading season total to 474 digs, tying Kayla Woodard for seventh place among MSU's single-season leaders in digs and just 37 behind Megan Lukasek's school-record 511 set in 2007.

"I can't say enough great things about Rozanne and the impact she has on a match," said Hazelwood. "She had another amazing defensive match and kept us in a lot of those rallies."

State used a balanced attack and got four-kill showings by middles Wyman and Nielsen and hit at a match-best .324 clip in taking the opening set 25-22. An ace by McVey gave the Bulldogs an early 2-1 and State never trailed in notching its first win in a set since taking two against LSU Sept. 28

The Bulldogs led by as many as five on several occasions in the second set and pulled even with the Tide at 24-all on a kill by Dani McCree. But Bama earned the next two points and a hard-fought 26-24 decision that evened the match at a win apiece at intermission. Baker delivered five kills in the frame.

Alabama warmed up offensively in the third set, hitting a sizzling .485 with just one attack error in a 25-17 win. Pricilla Duke-Ezeji knocked down five kills in seven attempts in the frame and then poured it on with eight more point-producing swings in a match-clinching 25-23 Alabama win in the fourth set. She finished the afternoon with a match-high 19 kills Taylor Scott's seventh kill of the final frame put the Bulldogs on top 23-22 before a trio of Bulldogs miscues, a service error and a pair of attack errors, put Alabama over the top.

All six Bulldog starters registered blocks, led by Wyman's five-block showing at the net.

"If we clean up a few things here and there, we win that match," said Hazelwood. "We just have to focus on continuing to get better. It's great seeing the kids excited and passionate about playing volleyball again and seeing them grow their confidence. It's definitely something we can build on."

The Bulldogs' 59 kills ranks as the third-most in a match by State and the most since September 28, while MSU's .205 attack percentage stands as the team's best in 15 league matches.

State plays just once in the coming weekend, traveling to Columbia, S.C., for a Friday night (6 p.m. CST) match against the South Carolina Gamecocks (15-12, 3-12 SEC).



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