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By DANNY P. SMITH
The Mississippi State women's basketball team doesn't need to get in too big of a hurry for the services of Ashley Newsome.
As far as the senior from Florence, Ala., is concerned, she's still a volleyball player for the Bulldogs until after Wednesday night's match against her home-state school Alabama.
It's not that Newsome isn't looking forward to playing some hoops because she is. She just feels like there's some unfinished business across the net.
"Honestly, this is still volleyball season," Newsome said. "After my last volleyball game, I'll start worrying about basketball. That's how I'm looking at it."
In MSU's 3-1 loss to Auburn at the Newell-Grissom Building on Sunday, Newsome had five blocks and got to within one of the school career record of 403 by Shauna Owens.
It's Newsome's athletic ability that has enabled her to climb up the charts for the volleyball Bulldogs and what could serve her well on the basketball court.
"She's definitely been blessed with a great deal of athletic ability," MSU volleyball coach Jenny Hazelwood said. "It's been really neat to coach her and to have that dynamic and ability. She sets her mind to working hard and doing certain things."
Newsome also moved into fourth place all-time in total blocks for a season with 133, passing Nicolle Carter's 130.
When it comes to personal accomplishments, Newsome said it has come through hard work, but she's thankful for her athletic ability along with the support from coaches and teammates.
Fellow senior Kayla Woodard said she's going to be Newsome's biggest fan when she starts playing basketball.
"I'm a hard core supporter of basketball now," Woodard said. "Sad to say, I haven't been very good about going to basketball games, but this is my room mate and best friend so I've got to go."
Newsome, Woodard and junior Kellye Jordan were recognized prior to their final home match. Injuries will prevent Jordan from returning for her senior season.
"She's a fighter and has had so many injuries in her career," Hazelwood said of Jordan. "She fights and battles like you want your players to do.
"I'm proud of everything these seniors have accomplished. They've had great careers. Those are the types of things we can build our future on. We've built a good foundation and these girls have worked hard to do that. We can expect good things in the future from what they've started."
Woodard admits it was difficult arriving to Newell-Grissom one final time for a volleyball match.
"It didn't hit me until (Sunday)," Woodard said. "The seniors were talking about how we were going to feel. It's bittersweet. It's fun to think we're about to finish, but it's sad because you give your life to this program for four years.
"The thing I'll cherish the most is probably the friends. These girls have basically been my sisters for the past four years and we've grown so close. It's hard knowing it won't be the same again. It's not too far away where I can't come back and visit."
On the court, the Bulldogs won the first set 25-23, but dropped the next three 25-17, 25-22 and 25-22.
"We fought hard today and clean up a few things here or there, the match could have gone either way," Hazelwood said.
Woodard collected 22 digs, which moved her up to a tie for fifth on the MSU single-season listing with 481. Caitlin Rance recorded a double-double with 14 kills and 11 digs.
The final match of the season for the Bulldogs (11-19 overall, 3-16 SEC) will begin at 4 p.m. in Tuscaloosa, Ala.
"Being from Alabama, I love beating Alabama," Newsome said. "I'm looking forward to going out to practice (today) and Tuesday, then just going out to play hard."