Admission to both matches in the Newell-Grissom Building is free and 100 free Hail State drawstring backpacks will be given away Friday night. One lucky student will also have the opportunity to participate in the $10,000 Perfect Serve Challenge.
Sunday’s match marks the return of the annual Faculty and Staff Appreciation Day and 125 MSU foam fingers will be given away along with 60 free cups of MSU ice cream.
“Our girls are looking forward to getting back on track this weekend,” MSU head coach Jenny Hazelwood said. “I thought we matched up well with both of these teams on the road a few weeks ago. We held set point against Kentucky and were able to force Georgia into a fifth set so to have the opportunity to face them a second time on our home court is always an advantage.”
On Oct. 25 the Bulldogs opened a two-week road swing in Lexington against the then 15th-ranked Wildcats. Kentucky took the first set but MSU rallied to hold set point at 24-22 in the second frame. UK managed to take the second set, steal momentum and claim the match in its home facility.
Two days later MSU and Georgia squared off in Athens and UGA seemed to be making quick work of State after cruising through the first two sets. Following intermission, the Maroon-clad Bulldogs stormed back to tie the match at two apiece and force a fifth set that featured 13 ties and several match points for both sides. UGA eventually outlasted MSU 18-16.
Youth and inexperience has been the name of the game all season long for State. Over 50 percent of the Bulldogs’ kills (54 percent), blocks (56 percent), aces (69 percent) and assists (91 percent) have come from newcomers. Freshman Kimmy Gardiner leads all non-seniors in the Southeastern Conference in kills per set (4.10) and points per set (4.94). Standout libero and second-year player Roxanne McVey is second in the conference with 5.64 digs per set. State also boasts the youngest overall player in the SEC, Brooke Sassin.
The Newell-Grissom Building has been extra friendly to the Bulldogs this season as they have taken eight matches in the facility, good enough for second-most all-time. Hazelwood’s 11 wins are also her second-most since returning to MSU in 2009.
After the weekend home stand concludes, 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.