LSU sweeps MSU to stay undefeated
There were moments during Sunday's Southeastern Conference volleyball match between Mississippi State and LSU that MSU showed it belonged on the same court with one of the best teams in the country.
In the end, the defending Southeastern Conference champion Tigers swept the Bulldogs 3-0 at the Newell-Grissom Building on Sunday. LSU won by scores of 25-19, 25-23, 25-14.
The seventh-largest crowd (478) in MSU history looked on as the Tigers improved to 13-0 overall and 4-0 in the SEC. The Bulldogs fell to 9-5 overall and 1-2 in the league.
"We knew they were going to be good and there's a reason they are undefeated," MSU coach Jenny Hazelwood said. "We would hammer a ball, then they pick it up, get ready to play the next one and get a good swing. That's a well-coached team that's been there a long time and trains their players to play a certain way and they do it.
"We're still trying to get to that point where no matter how many new players we've got coming in, we've got our system in place."
The Bulldogs had leads in each of the three sets at 11-10 in the first, 10-5 in the second and 7-5 in the third.
"In spurts, we did great things to keep up with one of the best teams in the country," Hazelwood said. "We talked to them afterward about being more consistent playing at that level and executing. From a training standpoint, you've got to take it every day in practice. I think we're taking the steps we need to to get this program where we want it to be."
MSU was able to get off to fast a 1-0 leads in each of the first two sets with kills by Ashley Newsome and Caitlin Rance respectively.
After a violation by LSU's Shelby Pursley gave MSU its 11-10 lead in the first set, LSU had a run of six-straight points to jump out to a 16-11 advantage.
A point scored by Mandy Mellencamp brought State to within 24-19, but the Tigers won the set on the next point.
In the second set, the Bulldogs couldn't sustain the momentum that got them a 10-5 lead. LSU came back to get its first lead of the set at 14-13.
After a Newsome kill put the Bulldogs back on top at 15-14, the Tigers scored five-straight points to go up 19-15.
Even though MSU got close at 24-23, it couldn't get the lead back. LSU's Angela Bensend, who had 16 kills for the match, used one of those to put the second set away.
A 6-4 lead by the Bulldogs evaporated in the third set and the Tiger took control at 16-9 which brought on a timeout by State. LSU finished the match strong and a kill by Desiree Elliott ended the match.
The Tigers had four players with double-digit kills in Bensend, Elliott (10), Michele Williams (10) and Madie Jones (10). Bensend had the same number of digs (16) to go with her kills.
"They've got weapons where they can come at you from everywhere," Hazelwood said.
There were no MSU players with double-digit numbers in kills, but were led by Lance's nine. Kellye Jordan recorded 10 digs for the Bulldogs.
With her one solo block, Newsome achieved a tie for fifth place on the career solo block list at MSU with 62 total.
The next action for the Bulldogs will be at Auburn Friday, then they make the trip to Georgia Sunday. The battle of the volleyball Bulldogs will be a noon telecast on FOX Sports Net.