STARKVILLE, Miss. (WTVA/MSU Athletics) - For the second year in a row, Mississippi State’s SEC home opener went to five sets, but this time it ends with a win
Mississippi State (5-11, 1-2 SEC) defeated Auburn (7-6, 0-3 SEC) 21-25, 12-25, 25-22, 25-23, 15-13. With the win, head coach Julie Darty earned her first SEC win.
“We’ve talked a lot about small steps, but I thought tonight was a big step,” Darty said. “I’m really proud of how we didn’t let going down 0-2 kind of affect our mindset. We stayed with it and stayed the course. We were talking a lot about process. We really stayed the process and battled and it was really beautiful to see.” We have a pretty deep bench as you can see. There are 12 kids on the bench and six on the floor, so we have 18 kids. We’ve got some kids that have some stuff that they can bring to the table and so when something’s not working, we’ve got to try other players.
“I felt like we’ve just been waiting for that breakthrough, and I feel like this is our breakthrough,” Darty explained. I’m so happy that this happened so early so that maybe we can push the limits a little bit more with the next one. We’ve got a nice little break until October 5th, so I know we’ve got to get back into the gym and fix some stuff. This was a good breakthrough for everybody to kind of find that confidence that we needed.”
A kill by Taylor Haskins started the match and Mississippi State pushed ahead, 7-4, before Auburn scored seven-straight points after multiple MSU errors to go up 14-9. The Bulldogs struggled to stop Auburn’s attack game, but rallied back to trail by three, 20-17, after six points off of kills, errors and one service ace. Despite the comeback, Mississippi State could not stop the Tigers’ .300 hitting percentage, and lost the set. Paige Shaw had four kills and one block. Alleah Stamatis had one kill and two service aces. Haskins had two kills and led the team with seven digs.
Auburn came out swinging and took the 4-0 lead to start set two. Mississippi State’s 10 attack errors allowed Auburn to push ahead and gain control, as it went on to a 25-12 win. The Tigers hit .458 in the set with 5.0 blocks.
After three-consecutive errors by MSU, Auburn pushed ahead, 3-1, early in the third set. Mississippi State countered with four-straight points to take the lead, 5-3. From there, it was close, as each team showed immense intensity on the court. After Darty challenged a successful dig by MSU, and the call was reversed and gave MSU the lead, 13-12. From there on, the match was close with no more than three points separating the two teams. Down 20-17, Mississippi State went on a five-point run to take the lead, 22-20. The Bulldogs went on to force set four after an attack error secured the set win. Shaw had six kills accompanied by a .333 hitting percentage. Amarrah Cooks had three kills and a .750 hitting percentage with three blocks and one dig.
The Bulldogs started off the fourth set trailing, 6-3, they raddled off seven-straight points, which included back-to-back service aces by Kendall Murr, to push ahead 10-6. Auburn retaliated with multiple kills and took advantage of MSU errors to trail by one, 17-16. Similar to the end of set three, the fourth set was tight at the end as neither team was more than two points ahead down the stretch. Mississippi State went on to force set five after a service ace by Shaw. Deja Robinson had three kills and .400 hitting percentage. Murr had seven digs and two service aces.
Set five was all about the kills as two teams combined for 20 successful swings. After Mississippi State went on a four-point spurt made it 7-5 in the home teams favor, Auburn called a timeout. Auburn rallied to tie it at 10, but it was no match for Mississippi State’s drive as they went on to win the set and the match after Shaw drew her 18th kill of the night.
Mississippi State’s next match is at home on Oct. 5 against No. 19 Kentucky. The match is scheduled for 7 p.m. on the SECNetwork + from Newell-Grissom.
Dawg Bites from Wednesday
Darty earned her first SEC win as head coach.
Stamatis had three service aces, two kills, five digs and 19 assists.
Shaw had a career-breaking 18 kills for a .218 hitting percentage. She also had four digs, four blocks and one service ace.
Cooks had 10 kills and three blocks.
Murr had four service aces and 19 digs
Robinson had six kills, one service blocks and four blocks
Morgan Kath had 19 assists and six digs
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