Oct. 9, 2011
STARKVILLE, Miss. - The Auburn volleyball team could not capitalize on a 2-1 lead on the road and fell to Mississippi State 3-2 (22-25, 25-23, 25-18, 20-25, 11-15) on Sunday afternoon at the Newell-Grissom Building on the MSU campus.
The Tigers (9-9, 3-5 SEC) fell to 0-4 on the road in SEC play and dropped a five-set match for the first time this year. Mississippi State (9-8, 4-4 SEC) surpassed its SEC win total from the 2010 season and defeated Auburn for the first time in the last six meetings.
Redshirt sophomore Courtney McDonald had one of the best offensive games of her career, racking up a career-best 13 kills with a .476 hitting percentage to go along with three blocks and two digs. Senior Kelly Fidero also had 13 kills to go along with six blocks.
Junior Sarah Bullock posted her fourth double-double in the last five matches, finishing with 11 kills and 18 digs along with matching a career-high with four blocks. Sophomore Camila Jersonsky posted a season-high eight blocks along with 11 kills.
Sophomore Chelsea Wintzinger bettered her career-best in assists for the second straight match with 49 helpers on the day, and sophomore Sarah Wroblicky shattered her career-high in digs with 22 in today's match.
The Tigers posted a season-high 15 blocks as a team, the most in a single match since also recording 15 in a victory over South Carolina on Oct. 17, 2010. Auburn was out-hit .249-.228, marking the first time this season the Tigers failed to win when hitting .200 or better as a team (now 8-1 in those matches).
Caitlin Rance led State with a career-high 26 kills, and Paris Perret had 60 assists for the Bulldogs. Libero Hillary Parker added 27 assists.
Auburn dropped a tight first set, 25-22, as Mississippi State hit .378 in the frame. Both teams hit the ball rather well with the Tigers swinging at a .257 clip; both teams had just four errors. Neither team led by more than three points at any juncture, but MSU was able to maintain a slim lead throughout. The Bulldogs took a lead they would not relinquish at 18-16, despite the Tigers clawing their way to within one point at four different points the rest of the way. A service ace would put the set away for MSU.
MSU jumped out to an early 6-1 lead in the second set as the Tigers had trouble hitting the ball in the early going, but Auburn would storm back and tie the score for the first time at 15-15 on a kill from Bullock. After the Bulldogs regained the lead, Auburn went on a 3-0 run to take a 19-18 lead, then went ahead for good on a kill from McDonald and a block assist from McDonald and Bullock to take a 21-19 lead. Auburn had set point at 24-20, but the Bulldogs would fight off three attempts before a kill from Fidero gave the Tigers a 25-23 win and tied the match at one set apiece.
The third set was all Tigers as Auburn never trailed en route to a 25-18 victory. Auburn would record seven blocks in the set as they jumped out to a 9-4 lead and never really looked back, despite the Bulldogs coming back to tie the score at 9-9. A pair of aces from Bullock gave Auburn a 16-11 lead, and two kills from Fidero would put the set away. Auburn would hit .333 in the set compared to an .083 clip for the Bulldogs.
Set four looked to be going the Tigers' way as well; Auburn took a 15-11 lead on a kill from Jersonsky and looked to be in good shape. But Mississippi State would go on an 11-1 run that included four hitting errors and a service error by the Tigers to take a 22-16 lead. Auburn would cut the deficit to as few as four, fighting off a pair of set points, but the Bulldogs would take advantage of Auburn's .093 hitting percentage in the set to tie the match at two sets apiece.
After the teams traded points in the deciding set, the Bulldogs would power ahead to a 9-5 lead. Auburn would try to close the gap, pulling within three points at 13-10, but the Bulldogs would record 10 kills with just one error in the set (.409 attack percentage) to take a 15-11 victory.
The Tigers will continue a four-match road trip next weekend with a pair of crucial battles with SEC Western Division opponents. Auburn will travel to Fayetteville, Ark., on Friday for a 7 p.m. match with Arkansas, then head to Baton Rouge, La., to face LSU in another Cox Sports-televised match at 1 p.m. Sunday.