State Volleyball Blanks AU On The Plains; Completes Series Sweep
State trailed only briefly in the match regionally-televised by SportSouth, winning 25-21, 25-16, 25-20 while snapping an eight-match losing skid.
"I am so proud of the fight and determination our team played with today," said MSU head coach Jenny Hazelwood. "We were strong in every aspect of our game today and that should give us a lot of momentum going into our last two matches at home this weekend."
The win was State's sixth all-time at Auburn and gave the Bulldogs their first season series sweep of the Tigers since 2007. The victory also enabled MSU to match its 2010 season win total.
State was dominant at the net, amassing a 14-3 advantage in total team blocking. Freshman middle blocker Lainey Wyman, who at Georgia Friday set an MSU freshman record for blocks in a season, led the Bulldog block party with six. Setter Paris Perret and senior middle Hannah Wilkinson added five each while junior Faith Steinwedell registered four rejections. Wyman delivered four of her blocks in the second set.
State opened the match with a hot hand. Wyman delivered the first kill of the match and State never trailed in winning the opening set 25-21. Caitlin Rance came through with five kills and Channelle Baker registered four as State hit at a match-best .462 clip.
Auburn jumped out to a 3-0 lead to open the second set, but the Bulldogs answered with a 5-0 run and never trailed again in the frame. Minutes later Wyman drilled two more kills and teamed with Steinwedell on a block during a 5-1 State run that stretched the MSU advantage to 14-7. State registered seven blocks in the set, leading to a negative attack percentage for the Tigers.
The Tigers scored the opening point of the third set, but it would be the last lead of the day for Auburn. Rance registered five of her team-leading 10 kills in the third set and Wilkinson stepped up with four kills and three blocks as Mississippi State cruised on to a match-clinching 25-20 win. Two of Wilkinson's blocks came during a 5-0 Bulldog run after Auburn had pulled to within two points at 18-16.
Rance reached double figures in kills for the 57th time in her career. With Sunday's 10-kill performance she raised her season total to a career-best 412 kills, fourth-most kills in a season at Mississippi State.
Chanelle Baker and Lainey Wyman had eight kills each while Hannah Wilkinson tallied seven and Faith Steinwedell three. Auburn, paced by a 14-kill performance by Kelly Fidero, managed a 44036 lead in kills. But State, thanks to an SEC season-low eight attack errors, out-hit AU .373 to .173. Mississippi State also won the battle of the defenses, out-digging Auburn 32-24. Hillary Parker led State with eight digs while Auburn's Sara Wroblicky took match honors with nine digs.
Misfires at the service stripe also proved telling in the match for Auburn. The Tigers registered four aces but suffered through 12 service errors.
After a two-week absence, the Volleyball Bulldogs return to competition at the Newell-Grissom Building this weekend, closing out the 2011 campaign hosting Ole Miss Friday (7 p.m.) and Alabama Sunday (1:30 p.m.).