Sept. 18, 2011
by Koby Padgett
Assistant Media Relations Director
MISSISSIPPI STATE, Miss. – South Carolina (9-2, 0-1 SEC) came back from a two-set deficit on Sunday afternoon, but Mississippi State (6-5, 1-1 SEC) held off the Gamecocks in the final frame to take home the victory, 25-16, 25-17, 23-25, 23-25, 15-8, on Sunday afternoon in Newell-Grissom Building.
Senior middle blocker Teresa Stenlund led the Gamecocks with 14 kills. Sophomore outside hitter Juliette ThÃƒÂ©venin had 12 kills and 11 digs while freshman outside hitter Bethanie Thomas tallied 10 kills and 10 digs as well. Junior setter Taylor Bruns had 47 assists, eight kills and 15 digs, while sophomore libero Paige Wheeler compiled 19 digs.
Bulldog outside hitter Caitlin Rance led the way with 17 kills and 16 digs. Lainey Wyman and Hannah Wilkinson added 16 and 13 kills, respectively, while Bently Witte also had 19 digs. Wilkins also posted six blocks to lead the Bulldogs. Setter Paris Perret made 50 assists and 17 digs in the contest.
The Bulldogs took the first set, 25-16, behind some good defense. South Carolina hit .071 in the frame, hurt by four Bulldog blocks. Mississippi State never looked back after taking a 7-1 lead, helped along by a Wyman kill and ace early and a solo block by Rance. The Gamecocks drew to within three at 9-6, but they would not get any closer. State took four of the next five points to push the lead back to six, and it would never get closer. The Bulldogs captured five of the final six points, with the wrapper coming on a block from Faith Steinwedell and Wilkinson.
South Carolina tried to stay closer in the second, but Mississippi State again pulled away at the end to take the set, 25-17. The Bulldogs held a 9-4 lead before the Gamecocks fought back, closing to within one at 11-10 on a block from Stenlund and junior Christina Glover. The teams traded two-point runs before the Bulldogs started a big run, taking 11 of the next 14 points to get to set point. Three Maroon and White blocks helped the run, while Baker added a pair of kills. After two Carolina points, State wrapped it with a Rance kill. The Bulldogs hit .414 in the second, with two of their three hitting errors coming on Gamecock blocks.
A tight third set tipped South Carolina’s way in the end, 25-23. The Gamecocks owned three different three-point leads, the second coming at 14-11 after kills from Stenlund and Thomas. But the Bulldogs fought back to tie it at 14-14 thanks to a kill and an ace by Rance and a Gamecock error. South Carolina worked it back to a 17-14 advantage, but the Bulldogs slowly worked back to take a 22-21 lead. The Gamecocks stood firm there, getting two kills from redshirt freshman Cara Howley off slides and a point from a Bulldog blocking error to get to set point, 24-23. Bruns put away a ball with a dump to seal it. The Gamecocks hit .438 in the frame.
The Gamecocks came back to take the fourth set, 25-23. After the Gamecocks tied it up at 12-12, the Bulldogs ran off three-consecutive points on kills by Wyman, Wilkinson and Rance to take a lead. But South Carolina came right back to make it 18-16, with a Frankie Vain ace capping a four-point skein. The Gamecocks stretched that lead to 23-18, thanks to three straight points from ThÃƒÂ©venin, before the Bulldogs made things interesting. Four consecutive points for the Maroon and White brought them to within one at 23-22, but the Gamecocks got a kill from Thomas down the block to get to set point. A Bulldog kill forced another point, but a hitting error by the Dogs ended it.
The Bulldogs took a 4-1 lead in the fifth before the Gamecocks drew back to within one after kills from Howley and Thomas. The teams traded two-point runs before the Bulldogs put together a four-point streak to make it 11-6 and force the Gamecocks to use both of their timeouts. Those didn’t stop the run, as State’s string reached six before Vain’s kill made it 13-7. Rance put one away from the back row to put the Bulldogs to set point, and after a Bulldog error, Rance and Wyman stuffed a Gamecock attack to end it, 15-8. The Bulldogs held the Gamecocks to a .042 hitting percentage in the final frame.
The Bulldogs won the hitting, digs, blocks and aces battle, while the Gamecocks had one more kill and two more assists than Mississippi State.
South Carolina returns home to take on Tennessee and Kentucky next weekend at the Volleyball Competition Facility.