Mississippi State Volleyball Splits Series, Finishes Season
STARKVILLE – Georgia flipped the script Thursday (April 1) in the Newell-Grissom Building, avenging Mississippi State volleyball’s series-opening sweep a day before with a straight set victory of its own.
In the final match of the 2020-21 regular season, Mississippi State (5-15, 5-15 SEC) and Georgia (8-14, 8-14 SEC) battled to back-to-back 25-23 scores in the first two sets, both won by the visitors. Georgia then used an early six-point run in the third set to pull away and seal the match in three sets.
With Thursday’s result, the teams split the series at one apiece, and the Bulldogs closed out the third season of the Julie Darty Dennis era, finishing 5-15.
“Today was a tough one,” MSU head volleyball coach Julie Darty Dennis said. “I hate to see our season end on a loss that I just don’t feel like was us. I think the way we played Georgia yesterday was a lot more of a representation of who we are and how gritty we are and how committed we were to playing hard all year round.
“This has been two semesters of competing, scouting and playing, and these kids have not had a break. I’m just so proud of how they have been dedicated and committed to playing at such a high level. I’m so proud of this group.”
Freshman Lilly Gunter led all players with a season-high-tying 20 digs to conclude a strong freshman campaign. Gunter finished her rookie season with 257 total digs, an average of 3.43 per set.
Senior Kendall Murr concluded her Mississippi State volleyball career, seeing action in two sets in the series finale. Murr appeared in every match of her final season.
“I’m so proud of Kendal Murr,” said Darty Dennis, Murr’s head coach going back to their time together at Jacksonville in 2017. “She has had a tremendous impact on this program for three seasons. To send her off, I’m excited that we got a split with Georgia this weekend. I think that’s something that we can really be proud of.
“To jump from two SEC wins from last year to five this year is something that we’re just really excited about,” Darty Dennis said. “We’ve just been talking a lot about progress, process, and really just being bought into [that process]. Today the result wasn’t great but I know that these kids are excited about the future and we have a lot to look forward to.”
- Lilly Gunter’s season-high tying 20 digs were her most in a three-set match, and rank No. 2 among SEC players in a three-set match this season, besting the 19 digs she recording over the same amount of frames on February 11 against Ole Miss.
- Gabby Waden completed her junior season with at a .322 hitting percentage, the fourth-best average by a Bulldog in a single season.
- Deja Robinson’s 12 solo blocks during the 2020-21 season pushed her into No. 7 all-time for career solo blocks, with 60 over three seasons.
First Set (Georgia 25, Mississippi State 23)
Tied 15-15, Georgia scored six of seven straight points to burst out to a 21-16 advantage. The visitors eventually set up set point, 24-19, but State didn’t quit. Waden came back with three straight kills, and Georgia’s Rachel Ritchie committed an attack error to bring MSU within one. Ritchie redeemed herself out of a timeout, however, with a set-sealing kill.
Second Set (Georgia 25, Mississippi State 23)
Georgia used three straight scores to get out to a 15-11 lead, but the home team fought back again to tie the set at 20-20. An MSU service error ended the run, and an attack error gave the visitors back-to-back points and a late 22-20 lead. The two teams traded blows the rest of the way, allowing Georgia to come away with another close victory.
Third Set (Georgia 25, Mississippi State 18)
State was unable to withstand an early 6-0 run by Georgia, who took a 15-9 advantage into the media timeout. UGA kept State from rallying the rest of the way, taking the final frame 25-18.
With the 2020-21 season wrapped up, Mississippi State volleyball will begin preparation for its 2021 season.
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