“I was proud of the resiliency our girls showed in the second and third sets,” Bulldog head coach Jenny Hazelwood said. “We fell behind early and had several calls not go our way late in the match but our girls managed to keep their composure and keep fighting. Kentucky is a solid team that plays well at home. In the end, we just did not play well enough to beat a top-15 team on the road.”
UK stole momentum right out of the gate with a 9-0 run to break a three-all tie early in the first set. After taking the first point of the match, MSU managed to keep the set tied early but the Wildcats’ .400 hitting percentage was too much as State dropped the opening set 25-13.
The Bulldogs put their early struggles behind them and pushed Kentucky to the limit in the second frame. Senior Dani McCree picked up three kills during MSU’s first five points of the set to give State an early 5-4 advantage. The Dogs and Cats fought back-and-forth with eight ties in points 11 through 20. With MSU facing set point at 24-22, UK had seen enough and rattled off four straight points to take a 2-0 lead into intermission.
Mississippi State’s momentum remained strong early in the third set as it managed to keep up with the Wildcats until five all. UK gradually took control of the clincher for a 25-21 win.
McCree finished with eight kills and only a single error for a .318 hitting percentage, while freshman Kimmy Gardiner paced MSU with 11 kills to go along with eight digs and two service aces.
Sophomore Taylor Scott tacked on five kills to go along with her team-best 11 digs, while the setting duo of Suzanne Horner (17) and Katlyn Mataya (11) combined for 28 assists. Horner also added seven digs and Mataya notched two service aces.
Feast or famine has been the case for MSU through seven conference matches as all have been three-set matches thus far. The Bulldogs are also nearing their home record for wins but have yet to win a true road match.
Sunday afternoon the Bulldogs will look to return to their winning ways as they travel to Athens, Ga., for a matchup with Georgia at 12:30 p.m. CT.
Next week MSU will travel to Alabama (16-5, 4-3) on Nov. 1 followed by a matchup with Auburn (12-7, 3-4) on Nov. 3 that will be televised by CSS. When MSU returns home on Nov. 6, it will face Ole Miss (11-10, 1-7) at 7 p.m. on ESPNU.