The Bulldogs’ .336 hitting percentage is its highest in a Southeastern Conference match since hitting .373 against Auburn on Nov. 3, 2011, which coincidentally was the last time MSU recorded a sweep against a conference opponent.
“I could not be more proud of our team and the work they put in to make tonight happen,” Bulldog head coach Jenny Hazelwood said. “We didn’t start conference play the way we wanted but we knew we were better than the results were showing. Tonight we refused to be the nail. Our girls kept working, kept competing and just wouldn’t give in. Now we must refocus and continue to play at this level with Tennessee coming to town Sunday.”
Sophomore Taylor Scott turned in a breakout night with 14 kills, 11 digs and a commanding .393 hitting percentage, leading to her eighth double-double of the season. The Claremont, Calif., native turned in 10 kills in the first set alone. After the Gamecocks committed to stopping the versatile hitter, the floor opened for the rest of the Maroon and White.
MSU quickly stole the first two points of the match behind kills from Chelsea Duhs and Scott. State and USC grinded out an extensive back-and-forth match with the Bulldogs fending off a pair of Gamecock set points. With the set tied at 26 all, a Gardiner kill gave MSU all the momentum it needed and Scott secured the 28-26 victory in the first set.
The Bulldogs again jumped out the quick lead in the second set and never gave the Gamecocks a fighting chance. After racing out to a 10-point lead at 16-6, MSU cruised to a 25-18 victory to take a 2-0 lead into intermission.
The third set provided little drama after the star of the night, Scott, broke an eight all tie with a kill to send State on a 7-2 run. The Bulldogs eventually claimed the clincher 25-20.
Freshman Kimmy Gardiner also posted her eighth-career double-double with 12 kills and 10 digs, while Dani McCree became the third Bulldog to register double-digit kills in the match with 12. Duhs turned in a match-best .438 hitting percentage with eight kills behind only a single error.
The match also marked the 450th in Hazelwood’s 14-year career and the 140th during her five seasons in Starkville.
State returns to action Sunday afternoon at 1:30 p.m. against Tennessee (8-12, 0-6) in its annual “Dig Pink” match to support breast cancer awareness. Admission is free and the first 100 fans will receive free pink foam miniature volleyball. The Sunday match also marks the return of the “Sundaes on Sunday” promotion when the first 60 fans will receive free MSU ice cream.
The match will be streamed live via HailStateTV with no audio and no signup required. Fans can simply go to HailState.com/HSTVlive to view the match. Fans can follow the match via live stats available through HailState.com
Following the weekend home stand, the Bulldogs will venture on a two-week road trip with stops at Kentucky and Georgia on Oct. 25 and 27. The following weekend, MSU will travel to Alabama and Auburn, which will mark State’s first televised match of the season on Nov. 3.