KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - Mississippi State's offensive struggles proved costly Friday night in a 3-0 loss (25-13, 25-14, 15-29) at Tennessee.
The Bulldogs (6-20, 2-13 SEC) were held to 24 kills and hit a coolish .065 in bowing to the Vols (18-6, 11-3 SEC).
Mississippi State continues its SEC weekend road trip Sunday with a 12:30 p.m. (CST) match at league-leading Kentucky (23-2, 13-1 SEC).
Sophomore Caitlin Rance led State with seven kills, Ashley Newsome finished with six and Ioana Demian registered four kills and a team-best three blocks to pace Mississippi State. Tennessee, with a .374 attack percentage, got mirroring 10-kill, three-block performances by Leah Hinkey and Nikki Fowler. Farren Powe finished with six kills and seven total blocks.
The Lady Vols pieced together a pair of lengthy scoring sprees to claim the opening set 25-13. Dorey Gray and Ashley Newsome combined for a block and Newsome nailed a kill to give the Bulldogs the early 2-0 lead.
But UT reeled off the next six points to take control of the match and salted the lead away with a 7-0 surge. Leah Hinkey matched MSU's team total for kills in the opening set with five as the Bulldogs struggled offensively with a -.038 hitting percentage.
Tennessee continued to control play throughout the second set, taking a 5-4 lead on a kill by Farren Powe and never trailing in the set. Ioana Demian, Ashley Newsome, Caitlin rance and Kellye Jordan notched a pair of kills each for State. But the foursome also combined for seven of the team's eight attack errors while UT warmed up to .406 hitting and cruised on to a 25-14 win and 2-0 match lead at the intermission.
State fell behind 4-1 and trailed 17-10 on back-to-back kills by Kyle Marshall before the Bulldogs staged a comeback and trimmed the UT lead to three points at 17-14. Caitlin Rance, limited to three kills over the first two sets, tallied four kills during the surge before the Lady Vols closed out the match with a 25-19 win.
Tennessee hit .374 for the match and commanded a 48-24 edge in kills, served up five aces and led in total team blocks 10-5.