STARKVILLE, Miss. (WTVA/MSU Athletics) - For the second time this season, Mississippi State freshman volleyball player Kimmy Gardiner has been recognized by the conference for her stellar play over the weekend. The freshman opposite from Grapevine, Texas, is SEC Co-Freshman of the Week, the conference office announced Monday morning.
In eight games over the weekend, Gardiner posted 32 kills, 18 digs, four aces and three blocks. She also did not have any reception errors as she was targeted 31 times on serves.
“I’m really honored and excited to receive this recognition and to be able to share it with my teammates who played unbelievably well last weekend,” Gardiner said. “I wish we could have come away with the wins but it is a learning experience we will take with us for later in the season.”
The Bulldogs traveled to No. 15 Kentucky and Georgia this past weekend. MSU challenged the Wildcats and even held set point in the second frame but could not close the deal on UK’s home court.
State’s Sunday afternoon match turned into an all out dogfight after MSU overcame a quick 0-2 deficit in the match to force a deciding fifth set. UGA dominated the first pair of sets and quickly took a 7-2 lead in the third to seemingly end any hope for the Maroon-clad Bulldogs.
After a Jenny Hazelwood timeout, Gardiner and sophomore middle blocker Alex Warren stuffed a Georgia attack at the net to spark a furious comeback by MSU. State would go on to win the third and fourth sets 25-18.
MSU and UGA traded points early on in the fifth set, which featured 13 ties. After State failed to put the match away with set point at 14-13, Gardiner foiled Georgia’s first set point attempt at 15-14 with her 21st kill of the match. UGA would go on to claim an 18-16 victory to clinch the match.
“Kimmy played very well in tough environments this weekend,” Hazelwood said. “The ability and athleticism she has is remarkable and she still hasn’t reached her full potential as a player, which makes this so exciting. She is a great six-rotation player that can do it all and I couldn’t be more proud of her both on and off the court. She works extremely hard and has done everything the coaching staff has asked of her.”
Gardiner is the fifth Bulldog rookie to earn SEC Freshman of the Week honors twice in one season. This is also the fourth-consecutive season in which an MSU freshman has claimed in the honor multiple. Sophomore libero Roxanne McVey was awarded the honor twice last season.
Next up, the Bulldogs will travel to Alabama Nov. 1 and Auburn Nov. 3, which will mark State’s first televised match of the season. When MSU returns home on Wednesday Nov. 6, it will face Ole Miss at 7 p.m. on ESPNU.
Gardiner is sharing the Freshman of the Week honors with Alabama newcomer Krystal Rivers.