Enjoy this recap of fall Mississippi State University sports updates:
Volleyball: Topping the Tigers, acquiring awards and securing selection
The No. 24 Mississippi State volleyball team had a successful Senior Day on Friday, beating the Auburn Tigers 3-0 (25-23, 25-23, 28-26) before a maximum capacity crowd of 2,293 at the Newell-Grissom Building.
Head coach Julie Darty Dennis and the Bulldogs (25-5, 16-2 SEC) extended their program record win total to 25 wins and their Southeastern Conference winning streak to 13 games by topping the Tigers (13-15, 5-13 SEC). Six seniors were honored before the game, including Margaret Dean, Jessica Dean, Callie Minshew, Deja Robinson, Gabby Waden and Alden Willis.
The Bulldogs won their first set against Auburn in a tight game that saw 12 ties and four lead changes. Although MSU only hit .176 as a team to Auburn’s .273 for the set, the Bulldogs led the action in kills. Graduate Jessica Kemp and freshman Sania Petties scored back-to-back kills to secure the set victory 25-23.
MSU connected better in second set action, hitting .275 compared to the Tigers .139. Down 16-17, the Bulldogs rallied for four straight points to take a late 20-17 lead that they would not relinquish. MSU won the second set by the same final score as the first, 25-23.
Despite falling behind early in the third set, the Bulldogs hit at an impressive .300 clip. Auburn managed to pull ahead to a 23-20 advantage, but the Bulldogs scored 23 kills to come back and complete the set victory on Senior Day, 28-26. Junior Lauren Myrick led the Bulldogs in kills with 18, while Waden contributed 10 as well.
For more thoughts on Friday’s packed home finale and the impressive rise of MSU volleyball, see A Darty party for the ages.
On Sunday, the Bulldog volleyball program received notice of two league awards. Dennis was named the 2021 SEC coach of the year, a first for the MSU volleyball program. Waden was named All-SEC for the second consecutive season.
Also on Sunday, MSU secured an invitation to NCAA postseason play for the first time in program history. The Bulldogs will travel to Seattle to face off against Big Wet automatic qualifier Hawai’i (21-7, 18-2 Big West) on Friday at 6:30 p.m. CT. The winner of that match will advance to face the winner of No. 15 national seed Washington vs. Brown on Saturday. Hawai’i is competing in its 28th consecutive NCAA Tournament.
Hardwood and Hoops: level of competition heats up
NASSAU, Bahamas — The MSU men’s basketball team split two games over the holiday weekend at the Baha Mar Bahamas Championship. The Bulldogs suffered a 72-58 defeat to the Louisville Cardinals in their opening game on Friday, but MSU rebounded to win the tournament’s consolation game 82-71 in overtime against the Richmond Spiders on Saturday.
Louisville built a 41-26 halftime lead, largely on the strength of their defense. That lead stretched to 28 points through the middle of the second half. The Bulldogs closed the game strong, outscoring the Cardinals 33-31 in the second half. Louisville (4-1) claimed 15 offensive rebounds and converted those into 22 second-chance points. The Cardinals also claimed a 36-10 advantage in bench scoring for the contest. The Bulldogs were hampered by a 1-for-15 rate on 3-point attempts.
MSU junior guard Iverson Molinar netted a game-high 17 points, while redshirt junior forward Tolu Smith added 10 as well. Three Cardinals scored in double digits, with junior forward Samuell Williamson netting 17, sophomore guard Dre Davis 12 and redshirt sophomore forward Jae’Lyn Withers 11 points. Fifth-year senior center Malik Williams added 10 rebounds and eight points for Louisville in the 72-58 contest.
The Bulldogs (5-1) emerged victorious from Saturday’s overtime contest against Richmond (3-4). The Bulldogs held a seven-point advantage at halftime, but Richmond closed the gap to force overtime.
MSU dominated the extra period 16-5 and held an 82-71 advantage at the final buzzer. Smith completed his third career 20-10 game, netting 22 points and 11 rebounds. Molinar, junior forward D.J. Jeffries and graduate forward Garrison Brooks all scored in double figures as well. The Bulldogs earned a 16-6 advantage in second-chance points and a 10-2 edge in fast-break points. Richmond held an 18-5 margin in points off turnovers. Richmond was paced by Tyler Burton’s game-high 23 points. Three other Spider scored in double digits as well.
Next up: MSU men’s basketball hosts the Lamar Cardinals (1-6) on Thursday at 7 p.m. CT at Humphrey Coliseum. The two schools have never faced off in men’s basketball. The game will be broadcast on SEC Network+.
Daytona Beach, Fla — The Mississippi State women’s basketball team split two games over the holiday weekend at the Daytona Beach Invitational. The Bulldogs bested the Dayton Flyers 65-54 on Thursday but fell to the No. 12 Michigan Wolverines on Saturday.
The Bulldogs won their fifth straight game on Thursday in a back-and-forth affair. After a close first quarter, MSU started to pull away in the second quarter, building a 31-23 halftime lead.
Dayton responded in the third quarter, closing the score to within two points during the period and settling for a four-point deficit after three quarters. The Bulldogs secured the victory with a strong fourth quarter, outscoring the Flyers by seven for the period and a final total of 65-54.
Junior forward Rickea Jackson led the Bulldogs in scoring with 20, while redshirt senior guard Myah Taylor added a season-high 16 points and redshirt senior guard Anastasia Hayes netted 11.
MSU shot 42% from the field and outscored Dayton in the paint 40-28. The Bulldogs (5-0) outrebounded Dayton (3-2) by a margin of 40-28. Sophomore guard Makira Cook tossed in 16 points for the Flyers, while graduate forward Erin Whalen added 12.
Saturday’s matchup against Michigan and its All-American senior forward Naz Hillmon would prove a more difficult challenge for the Bulldogs. The first two periods were nip-and-tuck affairs, with Michigan holding a 31-28 advantage at the halfway point.
Michigan’s defensive efforts contributed to MSU’s lack of scoring in the third and fourth quarters, dooming the Bulldogs efforts as Michigan prevailed 64-48. Michigan (6-0) dominated the second-chance points 17-4, and the Wolverines’ bench outscored the Bulldogs’ bench 33-2. Michigan senior guard Leigha Brown led all scorers with 23, and Hillmon added 18. Sophomore guard Jerkaila Jordan netted 18 points for the Bulldogs (5-1), and Jackson added 13.
Next up: MSU women’s basketball hosts the McNeese State Cowgirls (3-3) on Wednesday at 6 p.m. CT at The Hump. The Bulldogs own a 3-0 all-time series advantage vs the Cowgirls, with the last meeting held in 2007. The game will be broadcast on SEC Network+.
Hope you enjoyed catching up on these other fall sports. Hail State!