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Bulldogs Force Five in Columbia, Fall to Gamecocks

COLUMBIA, S.C. – Mississippi State volleyball fought back from a 2-0 deficit to force five sets on Friday (Feb.5) night at the Carolina Volleyball Center, but was outlasted by host South Carolina in the series finale.

Boosted by a 19-kill night form Gabby Waden and double-doubles from Logan BrownGabby Coulter and Margaret Dean, the Bulldogs (2-8, 2-8 SEC) won sets three and four to stay alive in the match. State took the initial advantage in the decisive fifth set, but South Carolina (9-3, 9-3 SEC) stole it with a 6-0 run to close it out and extend its win streak to five matches.

“What a battle. I am so proud of this team,” MSU volleyball head coach Julie Darty Dennis said. “Our focus was on being better than we were yesterday, and you can certainly say that we were. While we didn’t get the win tonight, the bright spots that I saw from my team make me so proud.

“I have confidence that this team is focused and ready to continue the process of working hard to get better. Together, we are committed to being better. I know we lost a tough one tonight, but I am proud because it has been a long time since we have pushed a very good South Carolina team past three sets.”

State dominated the blocking battle, taking a 12-5 advantage in the category. MSU was led by Deja Robinson, who had seven, followed by Francesca McBrideand Jessica Kemp, who each had five.

“We did a great job of focusing on the serve and pass game, and that was a huge difference maker for us. We got more production offensively from more people, and Waden was unbelievably dominant. I liked our pressure from the service line, and I liked our defensive effort.”

Carolina had four attackers with double-digit kills, led again by Kyla Manning, who had 17 (.226) to go with 13 digs. Setter Mallory Dixon collected 49 assists and nine digs.

Match Notes

 

  • For the second time this season, three Bulldogs recorded double-doubles. Gabby Coulter collected her first double-double as a Bulldog in just her second match in maroon and white with 29 assists and 12 digs. Margaret Dean extended her team lead to five on the season, grabbing 22 assists and 12 digs. Logan Brown tallied 13 kills and 10 digs for her fourth double-double in six matches this season.
  • Columbia, South Carolina native Gabby Waden tallied 19 kills (.341) to lead all attackers. For the series, she totaled 30 kills on an efficient .319 hitting mark. Waden had eight kills and hit .462 in the second set of Friday’s contest.
  • State’s .242 hitting percentage on Friday was a season high.
  • Five Bulldogs had three or more blocks, and three had at least five.
  • State won its first sets against the Gamecocks since November 24, 2017, when it defeated South Carolina in four sets at the Carolina Volleyball Center.

First Set (South Carolina 25, Mississippi State 16)

 

An early Gamecock run spelled doom for the Bulldogs, as the hosts built an early lead that State couldn’t recover from. Down 7-2, the Bulldogs pulled within two after a block by McBride and Deja Robinson made it 8-6, but Carolina’s Mikayla Robinson came back with a kill to stop the run. The Gamecocks held MSU in check from there and scored four of the final five points.

McBride was stellar at the net in the opening frame, leading all players with three blocks.

Second Set (South Carolina 27, Mississippi State 25)

 

The Gamecocks forced extra points to steal set two from the Bulldogs. Up 24-23 and 25-24, State failed to close the door, and South Carolina scored three straight to take the frame.

The Bulldogs hit .319 in the set, helped on by Waden’s eight kills in the frame. Brown added five more.

Third Set (Mississippi State 25, South Carolina 18)

 

State built momentum from a 5-1 lead to begin the third frame and stayed the course to stay alive. The Gamecocks tied it up at 14-14, but back-to-back attack errors from Carolina’s Robinson put State up by two, and the Bulldogs wouldn’t look back. State scored five straight to set up set point, 24-17. Brown would finish it with her ninth kill of the night.

Fourth Set (Mississippi State 25, South Carolina 20)

 

Back-to-back kills from Callie Minshew sparked a five-point run that gave State a 7-3 advantage. Carolina re-tied it at 8-8 and again at 9-9, but the Bulldogs pulled away again with four straight points started by a Carolina ball handling error. Two more kills from Minshew and an ace put MSU ahead by six, 19-13, and the Bulldogs held on to win, 25-20.

 

Minshew led State with four kills in set four, hitting .500.

 

Fifth Set (South Carolina 15, Mississippi State 9)

 

It looked like momentum might take State to the finish line in set five as three straight MSU points kicked off the frame. Out of a timeout, however, Carolina climbed back to take a 9-8 lead. The Gamecocks then scored six of the next seven points to capture the match victory.

Up Next

Mississippi State will look forward to hosting rival Ole Miss next Thursday and Friday (Feb. 11-12) at the Newell-Grissom Building. Both matches will begin at noon CT.

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