MSU SPORTS NOTEBOOK
MSU soccer player Baldner honored
Mississippi State senior Leanna Baldner has been named the Southeastern Conference Defensive Player of the Week.
The Meridian native earned the honor after helping the Bulldogs (4-1) surrender just one goal against both Troy and South Alabama en route to winning the Trojan Classic in Troy, Ala.
Baldner and her defensive teammates held Troy to nine shots while posting the team’s second shutout of the season, a 2-0 victory.
She played a key part in the Bulldogs’ championship-clinching 3-1 win against South Alabama on Sunday. In addition to her stifling defense in the center-back position, Baldner collected a career-high two assists in the second half to break a 1-1 halftime tie.
Baldner, who was named a Trojan Classic Outstanding Player, helped give MSU the lead for good in the 62nd minute with her perfectly-placed pass to Rachel Wannek over the top of the USA defense for the breakaway, game-winning goal.
She helped seal the win just 28 seconds later, finding Wannek for Mississippi State’s third goal on a free kick at the 62:08 mark.
That 28-second span between goals stands as the fourth-fastest consecutive goals in school history.
Baldner, Mississippi State’s assists leader, and the Bulldogs look to extend a three-game win streak as the Delta Devilettes come to town for the first match of the season at the newly-renovated MSU Soccer Field.
The two in-state schools have only met twice, with Mississippi State claiming both meetings.
The Dogs have not allowed a goal to MVSU, who enters today’s match 0-4 after a 2-0 loss to Jacksonville State on Saturday.
Pair of MSU VB players earn honors
A pair of players from Mississippi State’s unbeaten volleyball team have been honored by the Southeastern Conference as the league’s top defensive player and top freshman of the week.
Senior libero Kayla Woodard (Addison, Ala.) is the SEC Defensive Player of the Week while rookie setter Paris Perret (Frisco, Texas), for the second straight week, is honored as the SEC Freshman of the Week.
Tennessee senior outside hitter Nikki Fowler is this week’s SEC Offensive Player of the Week.
“I’m thrilled that Kayla and Paris have been honored for their outstanding play on the court by the Southeastern Conference,” said second-year head coach Jenny Hazelwood.
“They’ve both played such huge roles in helping us get off to a great start and win our first two tournaments. They’ve worked extremely hard to get to this point and we’re proud to see their success recognized by the conference.”
Woodard tallied 62 digs in three matches and helped lead Mississippi State to a 3-0 mark and the championship of the UTA Maverick Invitational last weekend in Arlington, Texas. She sparked an MSU defensive effort that limited its three opponents to .103 hitting on the weekend.
With her 10th dig last weekend, Woodard became the 12th Mississippi State player to reach the 1,000-dig career milestone. S
he stands 11th among MSU’s career leaders with 1,052 digs. Woodard becomes the first Mississippi State player to earn SEC Player or Defensive Player of the Week honors. She ranks second in the SEC in both total (126) and per-set average (5.48) digs.
“Kayla has improved tremendously since last season and has developed into one of the Southeastern Conference’s premier defensive players,” Hazelwood added.
“Averaging better than six assists per set last weekend was a remarkable performance. Without question she has been one of the keys to our 7-0 start this season.”
Perret, who last weekend joined former MSU standout Martina Gregusova (2006) as the only volleyball players from State honored as an SEC Freshman of the Week, averaged 11.30 assists in each of State’s 10 sets en route to her second weekly SEC honor.
One of three Bulldogs to start all seven matches this fall, Perret registered 113 sets at last weekend’s UTA Maverick Invitational, including an SEC season-high 59 in the Bulldogs’ title-clinching win over host UT-Arlington.
With 243 assists through seven matches, Perret ranks third in the SEC in both total (243) and per-set average (10.57) digs.
“I’ve said before that Paris doesn’t play like a freshman, and it’s true,” said Hazelwood.
“She does an outstanding job of running our offense. And considering the changes in personnel we’ve had to deal with lately due to injuries, her achievements are even more impressive. Last weekend in Arlington we also saw her Paris take on a greater role for us defensively, so she’s getting better with each match.”
Woodard, Perret and their Bulldog teammates travel to Carbondale, Ill., this weekend, taking on host Southern Illinois, South Florida and Southeast Missouri in the two-day SIU Saluki Invitational.
Perkins named SEC Freshman of Week
Nick Perkins of Mississippi State was named the SEC Male Freshman of the Week on Tuesday following his outstanding performance at the Georgia Cross Country Invitational this past Saturday.
In his first collegiate event, the Hoover, Ala., native finished second overall with a time of 24:40.97.
“Nick is a hard worker, and he is benefitting from his training,” MSU coach Houston Franks said. “In Georgia he managed the race well, especially with it being his first meet. Nick will only get better, and his goal should be to make the all-freshman team for the conference.”
Perkins was redshirted a year ago following an injury, which delayed his debut wearing the Maroon & White.
“I was very happy with the way the race went, with how my teammates and I finished,” Perkins said. “Since I was injured last year, I’ve trained hard to get into this position.”
MSU placed second in both the men’s and women’s events at Georgia and is off until they host the Bulldog Invitational on Sept. 18.