MSU Opens SEC Play With No. 3 Florida, Introduces $10K Serve Challenge

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STARKVILLE, Miss. – With six wins in its last seven matches, the Mississippi State volleyball team (9-5) is on its hottest streak since the 2010 season as it begins Southeastern Conference play at home Friday night at 7 p.m. against the No. 3 Florida Gators (11-1).

“The girls are excited to start the SEC season,” fifth-year MSU coach Jenny Hazelwood said. “Winning six of our last seven has helped build confidence but has also given us an opportunity to realize that we can compete with anyone when we maintain our controllables.”

The Bulldogs’ nine nonconference wins are the most in the Hazelwood era, while their current 6-2 home record is only a win away from tying for the second-most victories during a single season in the Newell-Grissom Building. The all-time record for wins in the facility is 10 during the 2006 campaign.

State continues to be paced by freshman Kimmy Gardiner who notched a 27-kill performance against UAB just a week ago. The Grapevine, Texas, native ranks third in the SEC with 4.61 points pet set and fourth with 4.10 kills pet set.

Averaging 1.79 aces per set, the Bulldogs lead the conference in that category behind Suzanne Horner and Gabby Litwin’s 0.37 aces per set average. Sophomore standout Roxanne McVey is also second in the SEC and sixth nationally with 5.62 digs per set.

This weekend also marks the beginning of the $10,000 Perfect Serve Challenge. At each Friday night match this season along with other select matches, one student will have the opportunity to make a 60-foot perfect serve to win $10,000 cash. Students can drop their name in a sign up box as soon as they enter Newell-Grissom and will also be eligible to win other prizes throughout the match.

“I wish I could enter,” Hazelwood said. “We had to try it out before practice the other day and it was extremely fun. A couple of people on our staff came really close so I can’t wait to see what the students do!”

The first 150 fans to Friday night’s match will also receive a free Hail State Water Bottle.

MSU will wrap up the weekend with a 1:30 p.m. matinee against Arkansas (7-4) Sunday.

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


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