McCree, volleyball Bulldogs top Rebels in five sets
OXFORD - Dani McCree admitted on Sunday that she didn't know much about the rivalry between the Mississippi State Bulldogs and Ole Miss Rebels before arriving in Starkville to play volleyball with the Bulldogs.
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The sophomore from Rialto, Calif., saw the intensity between the schools during a five-set Southeastern Conference match.
With the Bulldogs leading 14-12, McCree put away the winning kill as MSU defeated Ole Miss 3-2 at the Gillom Sports Center.
McCree was happy to be a part of such an important victory for her team, especially upon learning a little bit about it.
"When I first got here, I didn't know what TSUN meant," McCree said. "It took me a while to find out that it meant The School Up North.
"We all worked really hard in practice and I'm just happy that I was able to go in and do the job they wanted me to do. I'm still a sophomore so SEC plays is still new to me, but it's getting there."
McCree finished with 10 kills for the Bulldogs, much to the liking of head coach Jenny Hazelwood.
"With Dani coming out with 10 kills and not being afraid to swing there at the end, that's what you've got to have," Hazelwood said.
McCree was part of Mississippi State history as the Bulldogs swept their first SEC weekend road series ever (Friday and Sunday) and earned back-to-back conference road wins for the first time since 2007.
Hazelwood wants the success enjoyed by the program to continue.
"I hope team continues to get some of those we've-never-done-it-before because we've got a lot of potential and promise," Hazelwood said. "Hopefully, we'll keep getting better and better every day and get more firsts."
The first-ever nationally televised volleyball match in MSU history (ESPNU) was worthy to be played out in front of the cameras.
In the first set, the Bulldogs tied the score at 4-4 on a kill by Caitlin Rance, but Ole Miss went on a 7-1 run to take an 11-5 lead. The Rebels went on to capture the opening frame 25-15.
Rance had eight kills in the second set as State evened the match at 1-1 with a hard-earned 25-22 victory.
The Bulldogs used a 7-0 run in the third set to jump out to a 13-4 lead and went on to a 25-15 win on a kill by Hannah Wilkinson.
After MSU jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the fourth set, Ole Miss used an 8-0 run to rally and win 25-9.
Hazelwood was glad to see her squad bounce back after it obviously struggled in the fourth set.
"It's easy to get down when you lose one pretty bad," Hazelwood said. "We lost the fourth set 25-9 so I was really proud of the fight they showed. That kind of determination is what it takes.
"The SEC road is tough. Any match you play on the road is going to be hard."
Rance had her seventh double-double of the season to lead the Bulldogs with 16 kills and 11 digs. Lainey Wyman had her first career double-double with 10 kills and 10 digs.
"Lainey was clutch as usual," Hazelwood said. "One thing that stood out to me was she had 10 digs for a middle blocker who's in only when she's serving in the back row, I think that's pretty big."
MSU, which improved to 8-7 overall and have already matched last year's SEC win total with a 3-3 mark, will begin a four-match homestand on Friday when they take on Georgia at 7 p.m.