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Oct. 30, 2009

Box Score

MISSISSIPPI STATE, Miss. – South Carolina junior Megan Laughin had a career-best 22 kills, but the Mississippi State Bulldogs (6-18, 2-11 SEC) were too much as they took a 25-22, 24-26, 25-21, 25-17 win over the Gamecocks (12-10, 4-9 SEC) on Friday evening at the Newell-Grissom Building.

Laughlin led the Gamecocks with a .391 hitting percentage and two block assists. Senior Ivana Kujundzic had 16 kills and 15 digs, while classmate Bridget Denson-Dorman added 15 digs and 27 assists. Junior Jordan Bradosky added a season-best 20 digs, while senior Sarah Cline had 12. Ashley Newsome led the Bulldogs with a career-high 22 kills, while Caitlin Rance added 13. Libero Kayla Woodard was among four Bulldogs in double figures in digs with 18, while Faith Stenwedell had 13. Dorey Gray dished out 43 assists and made 14 digs, and Ioana Demian posted eight kills, five blocks and 11 digs.

After the Gamecocks won the initial point of the match, the Bulldogs ripped off five straight that included two kills by Rance. South Carolina worked their way back into it, first getting within two at 9-7 after a three-kill streak by redshirt freshman Olivia Ryder, Kujundzic and freshman Taylor Bruns. A pair of Kujundzic kills closed the Bulldog lead to one, but Mississippi State answered with five of the next six points to take the 18-13 advantage. Two Meredith Moorhead kills out of the final Carolina timeout made it a three-point contest, and the Gamecocks would force a Bulldog timeout after getting to within two at 22-20. A Demian block put State back on top by three, but kills by Denson-Dorman and Kujundzic put the Gamecocks just a point back. But an error on the overpass attempt and a solo block by Newsome gave State the 25-22 set one win. The Bulldogs hit .279 in the first set despite 23 Gamecock digs, with Newsome getting six kills on a .625 clip.

Mississippi State grabbed a 9-7 lead on a three-point skein helped by two Carolina errors. The Bulldogs stretched the lead to 14-9 after a four-point run that included a kill and a block assist by Demian. The Gamecocks made a stand, scoring four straight on two Laughlin and one Christina Glover kill and a block by Laughlin and sophomore Teresa Stenlund. State called a timeout to try to stop Carolina’s momentum, but a block by Stenlund and Glover made it a one-point game. The teams traded points until a block by Moorhead and Laughlin tied it at 23-23. Newsome came back with a kill to give State the first set point opportunity, but Laughlin tied it again with a smash. Another Laughlin kill gave the Gamecocks a chance to tie the match, and a Bulldog attack error did just that, ending the frame at 26-24 for South Carolina. Laughlin had 10 Gamecock kills and two block assists to propel South Carolina to the set two win.

South Carolina held a 7-3 lead before the Bulldogs would get back into the third frame, making it 10-9 after taking four of five points. But the Gamecocks responded with six of the next seven points, including two kills by Stenlund, to make it 16-10. After trading sideouts, the Bulldogs went on a streak, taking six of seven to force a Gamecock timeout at 18-16. But State kept coming, taking a 19-18 lead after three more points. Laughlin ended the slide, but the Bulldog attack was relentless, taking six of the next eight points to claim a 25-21 set three win. Three Gamecock service errors paired with two Bulldog blocks proved to be the difference.

Play went back and forth in the fourth set until the Bulldogs put together a three-point run, two coming on Newsome swings, to take a 15-11 lead and cause the Gamecocks to use a timeout. South Carolina got consecutive points out of the break, but that would be about it. The squads swapped points until 19-16, when Mississippi State went on a 6-1 run to finish off the set, 25-17, and the match. Newsome had seven kills on 10 swings in the final frame.

The Gamecocks had more assists (56-54) and digs (79-69) than the Bulldogs, but State held advantages in blocks (9-2) and aces (3-1). Kujundzic moved into a tie for seventh in kills on South Carolina’s all-time list, catching Berna Dwyer with 1,107 successful attacks. She also advanced a spot on the career attacks list into sixth. Cline claimed the single-season record for digs during the rally-scoring era, just nine shy of 400 for the season.

South Carolina heads to Tuscaloosa, Ala., to face off against Alabama on Sunday at 1:30 p.m. CST.