BATON ROUGE, La. - Mississippi State made an 18-point improvement Friday night over its previous showing this season against the LSU Tigers. But the streaking Tigers (23-5, 17-2 SEC) lived up to their No. 17 national ranking, again registering a straight-sets (25-18, 25-21,
25-20) win over the Bulldogs in SEC volleyball competition at LSU's Maravich Assembly Center. It was the final road match of the year for the Bulldogs (8-22, 4-15 SEC).
"It was a much better showing for us against LSU than it was at the Newell-Grissom Building last month," said coach Jenny Hazelwood. "They had a ton of blocks against us in that match, and tonight we actually out-blocked (6-4) them tonight. We did a better job in a lot of areas, and we stayed with them for a while tonight. But LSU is so talented and has so many offensive weapons. That's why they're one of the nation's top teams."
The Tiger trio of Marina Skender, Michele Williams and Brittnee Cooper combined for 40 of LSU's 52 kills to power the 2009 SEC Western Division champions to its 16th win in its last 17 matches.
The Bulldogs got nine kills from Caitlin Rance while Ioana Demian tallied eight and Faith Steinwedell seven. Newsome registered a match-high five blocks, including her SEC-leading 24th solo block.
Newsome and Dorey Gray led MSU defensively with 11 digs each.
LSU raced to a 4-1 advantage and never trailed in claiming the opening set 25-18. Brittnee Cooper tallied six kills and the Tigers hit at a crisp .325 clip in the stanza. With Kayla Woodard at serve, the Bulldogs went on a 4-0 run to trim a seven-point LSU lead to 16-13 before LSU surged on to take the opening set. Ioana Demian and Ashley Newsome tallied three kills each in the set to lead the Bulldogs.
The Bulldogs rebounded with their strongest showing of the match in the second set, matching LSU's game one start of 4-1 and twice building the lead out to seven points. A kill by Demian put MSU on top 12-5. The 17th-ranked Tigers rebounded, however, taking the lead during a 6-0 run with Lauren DeGirolamo at serve. Michele Williams, after a four-kill opening set, sparked the Tigers with eight kills in set two. MSU, with a four-kill effort from Faith Steinwedell, hit a match-best .333, but could get no closer than two points down the stretch in a 25-21 LSU win.
LSU claimed the early advantage in the third set, scoring the first four points before a Tiger serving error and back-to-back combined blocks by Newsome and freshman Chanelle Baker pulled State to within a point at 4-3. The Tigers then reeled off seven straight points and cruised home to a match-clinching 25-20 win, their eighth straight in league play.
Mississippi State closes out its 31-match schedule for 2009 Friday in Starkville with a 7 p.m. match against Alabama. MSU will salute its two seniors, setter Dorey Gray and outside hitter Ioana Demian during prematch ceremonies at the Newell-Grissom Building.