Dynamic Bulldogs Sweep Ole Miss in Series Opener
STARKVILLE – Mississippi State volleyball got its home stand off to a positive start Thursday (Feb. 11) afternoon with a straight set victory over rival Ole Miss in the Newell-Grissom Building.
Mississippi State (3-8, 3-8 SEC) hit a season-best .245 for its first sweep of the season, while holding Ole Miss (0-11, 0-11 SEC) to a .057 mark.
“I am proud of our total team effort win today,” head coach Julie Darty Dennis said. “Opening our spring season at home with a win like this in front of some fantastic fans is exciting and special in this type of season we are playing. Getting our first sweep of the season is huge.
“The girls are bought in, and they have really committed to the process. It was awesome to see that it is paying off. I think we were risky from the service line, but we weren’t out of control. That played a huge part in it. We hit efficiently for the team that we are. Gabby [Waden] carried us offensively, but I thought we had other people come in at times and make some big plays.”
Gabby Waden (14 kills) and Callie Minshew (11) carried much of the load offensively for MSU. The stellar Bulldogs defensive effort was led by freshman liberoLilly Gunter, who tallied 19 digs (6.33 per set), and Jessica Kemp’s five blocks.
- Mississippi State pulled off its first sweep of Ole Miss since September 27, 2015, and the first in the Newell-Grissom Building since Sept. 13, 2006. The Bulldogs also snapped a four-match skid against the Rebels going back to 2016.
- Sophomore outside hitter Callie Minshew doubled her career-high mark for service aces with four in Thursday’s match. Two of those came consecutively as the final two points of the contest.
- With 14 kills over three sets, Gabby Waden raised her season average to 3.75 per set (165 total). She has double-double kills in 10 of 11 matches this season, with a hitting percentage of .314.
- Freshman libero Lilly Gunter’s 19 digs tie the SEC’s season-high mark for digs in a three-set match. Gunter has tallied double-digit digs in eight matches this season.
- Graduate transfer Jessica Kemp posted five blocks for the second straight match, and has collected at least three in four consecutive contests. Kemp has tallied at least five blocks in five matches this season, and leads the team with eight matches of three or more blocks.
First Set (Mississippi State 25, Ole Miss 20)
Mississippi State broke open the first set with a 6-0 run to go up 22-15. On set point, the Rebels showed fight, scoring a 3-0 run to cut the lead to 24-20 and forcing an MSU timeout. The set was decided on the next point, however, when Ole Miss overshot a serve behind the MSU line.
Second Set (Mississippi State 25, Ole Miss 15)
Back-to-back kills by Minshew started a 5-0 run for State that built a 16-9 lead. Three consecutive attack errors by the Rebels set up set point for State, and Waden and Kemp combined for a block to seal the second frame.
Third Set (Mississippi State 25, Ole Miss 17)
Ole Miss opened the frame with a 5-1 start, forcing an MSU timeout. The Bulldogs re-focused, scoring five straight out of the break. The Bulldogs broke away from a 15-15 tie via a 6-0 run, once again boosted by back-to-back kills from Minshew. After a Deja Robinson kill made it 23-17, Minshew landed back-to-back service aces to clinch the match.
Mississippi State will look to sweep the series with Ole Miss in the second match on Friday (Feb. 12) at Noon CT. Fans can watch the contest on SEC Network.
For more information on the Bulldogs, follow the program on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram by searching @HailStateVB.