“We started a little sluggish,” fifth-year MSU coach Jenny Hazelwood said. “I was proud of our young team’s maturity to put the first set behind them, refocus and win the next three. Playing a road match for the first time is always an adjustment for freshmen but I though we handled it well and look forward to facing Tulsa and Baylor tomorrow.”
The Bulldogs stumbled out of the gate as they couldn’t get anything going and dropped the first set 25-23. MSU outhit UTA .351 to .316 but four Maverick blocks proved to be the difference. State managed to tie the first game 18 times but failed to ever gain control.
UTA would again jump out to an early 5-2 lead in the second set but a 7-2 run ignited by back-to-back kills from freshmen Kimmy Gardiner and Brooke Sassin gave the Bulldogs a lead they would not relinquish. The Bulldogs held the Mavericks to a .037 hitting percentage during the second set to win 25-17.
Behind a .438 hitting percentage in the third set, State kept rolling as it sprinted out to a 10-4 lead and never looked back. Chelsea Duhs registered five of her 10 kills with a .714 hitting parentage for the third stanza. Most importantly, the Bulldogs had four of their five blocks in the set and out-blocked the Mavericks four to two.
UT-Arlington kept battling in the fourth set to keep the match alive, but Mississippi State held the momentum and pulled out a 25-20 victory. Sassin stole the show with five kills of her own, while Taylor Scott and Gardiner added three each.
After being out-blocked four to none in the first set, the Bulldogs registered five blocks the Mavericks four over the final three sets.
Gardiner recorded her second-career double-double with 18 kills and 11 digs. Scott and Sassin added 13 kills each. Freshman setter Suzanne Horner recorded 51 assists while Roxanne McVey had 23 digs. Gabby Litwin also added 10 digs.
The Bulldogs will face Tulsa in the first game of a doubleheader at 12:30 p.m. Saturday before wrapping up the trip against Baylor at 7 p.m.