STARKVILLE-Mississippi State volleyball completed a weekend sweep over Tennessee’s no. 24 with a 3-2 (25-18, 25-23, 26-28, 15-25, 17-15) victory over the Volunteers on Sunday at the Griss for the Bulldogs’ 10th consecutive victory.
With today’s win, MSU (22-5, 13-2 sec) is just one win away from tying the program record for total wins in a season, held by the 1976 Dawgs who won 23 games. Back-to-back wins over the Volunteers this weekend marked the first time Tennessee (17-8, 9-6 SEC) has been swept in SEC play this season.
“It was one for the books,” head coach Julie Darty Dennis said. “It was spectacular on our pitch. We were navigating those first two sets. I think in that third set we thought we had it and it would be ours, but Tennessee came roaring back.
“It was awesome to see our team action. We took a step back in that fourth set, but this group understands that we didn’t play good volleyball and how to move forward. In that fifth set it was neck and neck and we had to keep it tight. During that timeout at 13-13, we just said let’s do it and pursue it point by point. The girls were happy today and I am proud of them.”
Shania Cromartie notched her fourth straight double-double Sunday with 16 disposals and as many digs. She added three aces behind the service line and also tallied three blocks in the victory. Margaret Dean also had a double-double for the Dawgs, her fifth of the season, with a team-high 24 assists and 14 digs.
State led 2-0 after the first two sets, but a back-and-forth affair in the third allowed Tennessee to get on the board after 15 ties and nine lead changes in that set alone.
The Volunteers took a 6-5 lead over MSU early in the fourth and stayed in control the rest of the way, finishing the match in two sets apiece with a 25-15 victory in the fourth.
The fifth and deciding set saw the two teams tie the score nine different times with five lead changes, but the momentum swung in MSU’s favor after in the game after Mississippi State and Tennessee continued to trade points.
With 13 minutes left in the fifth, MSU took the lead thanks to a successful challenge from the state coaching staff that gave the Dawgs their first game point of the afternoon.
Five points after, MSU won in five sets on its third match point on a Jessica Kemp finish to put the game away. Mississippi State totaled 61 disposals, had 10 service aces and 76 digs in the win. As for Tennessee, the Volunteers had 68 finished as a team, hit.204 for the game and 93 digs recorded.
Gabby Wade (15 disposals) reached double-digit disposals for the sixth straight game and for the 20th time this season, while Lauren Myrick tallied 13 disposals to help the state win.
Lilly Gunter had a team-high 20 digs in the match and also totaled three aces on serve, while Deja Robinson was a force at the net for the Dawgs with a career-high nine blocks that day.
State will travel to face Arkansas next weekend in the final road series of the regular season. The series starts at 17 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 20, in Fayetteville. The Dawgs and Razorbacks will close out the weekend on Sunday, Nov. 21, with a first service at 15 p.m.