In the first match of the afternoon, UALR (1-2) wasted no time taking the first set 25-22 behind a 12-6 run to end the frame. MSU (2-2) would rebound to claim a 25-23 victory in the second set.
With the Bulldogs trailing 18-12 in the second set, MSU managed to mount a comeback behind three kills from freshman Brooke Sassin, who made her career debut, and two kills from Alex Warren, who posted a career-high 14 kills in the match.
UALR would go on to claim the third and fourth sets 25-20 and 25-17, respectively.
Kimmy Gardiner posted a team-best 15 kills for the third-consecutive match, while Sassin also contributed 11 kills and three digs in her first collegiate action. Suzanne Horner tacked on 47 assists to go along with Roxanne McVey’s 22 digs.
“We’ve talked about it a lot,” fifth-year MSU coach Jenny Hazelwood said. “Just freshmen having to figure out how to play a couple of matches and do well but then having to turn around the next day and still play at a high level. We gave up a lot of points. We had more kills in both matches. We had more digs in both matches. We were just giving up too many points.
The Bulldogs struggled to the same tune in the second match against SEMO (2-1). After hitting only .019 in the first set, they fell behind early and couldn’t recover. State dropped the first two sets 25-22 and 26-24, respectively. The two sets combined to feature 26 ties and 11 lead changes.
After the promotional break, the Bulldogs stormed out to a 16-8 lead and cruised to a 25-22 victory in the third set.
The fourth set was much like the first two as MSU and SEMO remained deadlocked much of the frame. With the set tied at 20, a kill by the Redhawks’ Colleen Yarber ignited a 5-1 run that ended the match.
Sophomore Taylor Scott posted her second double-double of the season with a team-best 19 kills and 15 digs. Gardiner also recorded her first-career double-double with 15 kills and 21 digs.
Sassin picked up where she left off from the first match with 12 kills, while Horner added 48 assists. McVey remained strong and posted 29 digs.
Gardiner and McVey garnered Maroon Classic All-Tournament team honors. Gardiner posted 64 kills, 42 digs and 5 blocks on the weekend, while McVey turned in 98 digs and 5 service aces.
Up next for the Bulldogs is a trip to Waco, Texas, for the Baylor Classic where they will meet UT-Arlington at 4:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 6, followed by a Saturday doubleheader against Tulsa and Baylor beginning at 12:30 p.m.