“We started about as well as we could in the first set and even played well in the second,” Bulldog head coach Jenny Hazelwood said. “The difference in a match like this where the two teams are pretty evenly matched is experience. Late in the sets you could see Georgia’s experience take over and our young team wasn’t as comfortable.”
Earlier this season MSU forced a deciding fifth set after digging a 2-0 hole to start the match. UGA would eventually claim an 18-16 clinching win on Oct. 27.
State opened Sunday’s match with one its best sets of the season offensively as it hit an errorless .395 (15-0-38) and put Georgia in the hole 1-0 after a 25-18 win. MSU built an early 9-4 lead and never let the red-clad Bulldogs back in the set. Sophomore Taylor Scott and freshman Kimmy Gardiner each turned in four kills in the opening frame, while freshman setter Suzanne Horner posted 10 assists.
After 45 straight attacks without an error to open the match, a Mississippi State attack sailed long early in the second stanza to end the streak and UGA never gave the Maroon-clad Bulldogs much traction, evening the match before intermission with a 25-18 win.
MSU built an early 6-3 lead in the third frame but UGA responded with an 11-1 run to take a 14-7 advantage. Entering the set, State had only a single hitting error in the match but erred on seven attacks in the third set alone. MSU pulled within two at 19-17 but Georgia rallied to seal the deal at 25-20.
With momentum clearly on their side, the Bulldogs from Athens gradually pulled away from State in the fourth set. MSU managed to force seven ties within the first 14 points of the frame but UGA progressively took over, forcing Hazelwood into her first timeout at 11-7. Georgia claimed the clincher 25-18.
Sophomore middle blocker Alex Warren turned in her best hitting performance of her career with a .450 hitting clip (10-10). She also notched two blocks and a dig.
Roxanne McVey turned in 27 digs after posting 26 Friday night. It is the third time in the last four matches the sophomore libero has turned in a 20-plus-dig performance.
Katlyn Mataya assisted on 18 attacks and dug 11 balls for her second double-double, while Scott finished with 10 kills and 10 digs for her 11th double-double of the season and 18th of her career.
Gardiner carded a match-high 14 kills to go along with seven digs, a service ace and a block. Fellow freshman Chelsea Duhs blocked an MSU-best four attacks.
Next up, the Bulldogs will hit the road for a pair of at No. 7 Missouri No. 22 and Arkansas Nov. 24 before returning home Nov. 27 for Senior Night against Alabama. MSU wraps up the season with a road trip to Tennessee on Nov. 30.