Bulldogs Surrender A Pair Of Hard-Fought Matches In Waco

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Freshman Kimmy Gardiner notched her third-consecutive double-double as the Bulldogs fell in five sets to Tulsa.
Photo Courtesy of Bill Simmonds

]WACO, Texas – Facing their stiffest competition of the season, the Mississippi State volleyball team (3-4) surrendered a pair of hard-fought matches on the final day of the Baylor Classic to Tulsa (6-1) and Baylor (2-5).

In the opening match of the day, the Bulldogs rallied to force a fifth set after falling behind 2-0 early in the match against 2012 NCAA Tournament participant Tulsa.

“For such a young team to battle back like we did was impressive, “ MSU coach Jenny Hazelwood said. “We could have played better early on but our girls really battled the last three sets. We will learn from this and be able to grind out these wins against strong teams later in the season.”

The Bulldogs and Golden Hurricanes battled back-and-forth with 10 ties and four lead changes in the first set but MSU ultimately fell 25-20. Tulsa again jumped up in the second set and rolled to a 25-17 win as State could never get anything going.

MSU stole momentum with a 7-0 run early in the third set. Clinging to a 4-3 lead, a Brooke Sassin kill sent the Bulldogs on the run to gain an 11-3 advantage that they never surrendered. State claimed a 25-22 victory behind a .308 hitting percentage, its best of the match.

The fourth set was dominated by freshman Kimmy Gardiner as she racked up six of her 19 kills. MSU rolled to a 4-0 lead early and forced a Tulsa timeout.  The Golden Hurricanes would comeback to tie it at five and the duo battled with seven ties and four lead changes. The Bulldogs would eventually seal the deal with a strong 25-18 victory.

Tulsa would claim three of the first four points in the fifth set to seize momentum. The two teams remained deadlocked much of the match with eight ties but the Golden Hurricanes eventually claimed victory at 15-12.

Gardiner finished with her third-consecutive double-double as she tallied 19 kills and 13 digs. Taylor Scott (15 kills, 22 digs) and Suzanne Horner also recorded double-doubles (46 assists, 11 digs).

Sassin registered 11 kills to go along with four each from Horner, Chelsea Duhs and Alex Warren. Roxanne McVey also contributed 22 digs.

As a team, MSU recorded a season-high 12 blocks against only five from the Golden Hurricanes. Warren led the way individually with eight.

In the nightcap, Mississippi State jumped up to an early 1-0 lead with a 25-22 first-set victory. Gardiner picked up right where she left off with six kills in the set. The Bulldogs jumped up early and never looked back.

The Bears seized momentum early in the second set and never let up. After falling behind 5-1, Hazelwood was forced to call a timeout and the Bulldogs were able to battle back and tie at 11. MSU had a chance to end it with a set point at 24-23 but Baylor kept clawing for a 27-25 comeback victory. The Bears would go on to win the third and fourth sets 25-17 and 25-18.

Gardiner recorded yet another double-double with a career-high 20 kills and 14 digs. She also had two blocks and two aces.

Scott also recorded her second double-double of the day with 10 kills and 17 digs. McVey added 25 digs while Sassin notched a career-high 15 kills. Horner tallied 47 assists.

Gardiner and Scott also received Baylor Classic All-Tournament team honors.

Up next for the Bulldogs is a return trip home for the Bulldog Invitational where they will host Niagara and Wofford on Sept. 13 and 14. MSU will then wrap up its nonconference slate with a trip to Nashville, Tenn., for the Belmont Bruin Classic.

Fans can follow the Mississippi State volleyball program on Twitter @HailStateVB, Instagram @HailStateVB and Facebook at facebook.com/HailStateVB.


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