MSU lets LSU off hook in volleyball loss
The Mississippi State Bulldogs are still learning on the volleyball court this season.
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The lesson on Sunday was a tough one.
Mississippi State was one point from a victory against defending Southeastern Conference Western Division champion LSU at the Newell-Grissom Building, but let it off the hook.
After winning the first two sets 25-15 and 28-26, the Bulldogs were serving for the match at 24-23 in the third set.
The Tigers took the next three points to capture the third set 26-24 and eventually won the match in five sets 3-2. LSU won the fourth set 25-15 and the fifth 15-11.
MSU volleyball coach Jenny Hazelwood said it was a matter not taking advantage fully of LSU's youth and inexperience.
"You can't do that against LSU," Hazelwood said. "They are young this year and why they've had their ups and downs. When you get a team like that on the ropes, you've got to put it away. Our youth got the best of us.
"We made mistakes at clutch times and it was usually between a few of our freshmen. We've just got to learn from that."
The Bulldogs saw their records fall to 10-13 overall and 5-9 in the SEC, while the Tigers improved to 15-8 and 8-5.
LSU coach Fran Flory never wants to underestimate the value of a five-set win, especially on the road.
"This team is in the middle of a confidence crisis and you need a match like this to break out of that," Flory said. "Certainly you would hope those matches would come on the home court, but to be able to fight through and endure this match against a very good Mississippi State team, I can't say enough about how our kids came through in the latter part of that match."
Despite the loss, Caitlin Rance had a double-double for MSU with 22 kills and 11 digs. Hillary Parker led the Bulldogs with 14 digs, while Hannah Wilkinson added 11 kills and Lainey Wyman chipped in 10 digs.
MSU's losing streak has now grown to five-straight matches and it must regroup for road outings against ranked opponents No. 24 Kentucky on Friday and No. 20 Tennessee on Sunday.
The Bulldogs finish out the regular-season slate with home encounters with rivals Ole Miss on Nov. 18 and Alabama Nov. 20.
"We've just got to keep learning and working hard in the areas where we find ourselves struggling," Hazelwood said. "We've got to be a little tougher on ourselves and eventually at practice."