In order for a team to achieve great things it must first learn the lessons that build character and develop toughness.
The youthful Mississippi State volleyball squad experienced one such learning moment Saturday night as it dropped the final match of the Maroon Classic 3-2 to Kennesaw State.
The Bulldogs opened the match with three freshmen in the starting lineup and had three more compete in the final match.
While the youth gives hope of a bright future, the here and now has MSU experiencing a few growing pains.
“I think they were tired and that’s normal for the third match of the tournament but these freshmen haven’t had to deal with that yet and when they got a little bit tired, they went back to some of their old habits that don’t work so well for them,” said Bulldog head coach Jenny Hazelwood. “That’s part of the learning process. That’s something they will hopefully learn pretty quickly.”
Freshman Taylor Scott picked up a double-double in the match with 12 kills and 17 digs. She was followed by fellow freshman Sarah Nielsen who led MSU with 13 kills.
While at times the Bulldogs shined, it was the other moments when they looked rather ordinary.
“I told them in the locker room (that) we’ve had days where we practiced like we played (Saturday night),” said Hazelwood. “It was real up and down and not real consistent. Kennesaw is a good team and you just can’t give away that many points. I mean, we missed four serves and I don’t think we missed but one other serve all weekend.”
Overall, the Maroon Classic was a successful tournament in the eyes of Hazelwood. A 2-1 mark gives the Bulldogs a frame of reference to build upon as the season continues.
“There is a lot of good that we can take away from this weekend,” said Hazelwood. “We can certainly see that the future is bright. We have a lot of talent on this team and once they figure out the ins and outs of high-level volleyball, we are going to be pretty successful.”
Mississippi State makes the trip to California next to participate in the Luxe City Ctr.Trojan Invitational next weekend.