Mississippi State’s volleyball program saw the difference between the progress they’ve made during the 2010 season and arguably the best team in the country.
Unfortunately for the Bulldogs – that gap is still pretty wide.
Florida walked into Newell-Grissom Gymnasium Sunday and did what they’re used to accomplishing – a sweep versus Mississippi State.
The Gators used its hitting depth offensively to pick up a Southeastern Conference road match victory in dominating fashion 25-14, 25-20 and 25-16.
“They have so many offensive weapons, so many girls that can hit a ball with pace and that makes it so tough on our defense,” MSU head coach Jenny Hazelwood said.
Florida (13-1, 6-0 in SEC) came into Starkville very aware of the fact that 12th-ranked UCLA upset top-ranked and previously unbeaten Stanford in five sets Saturday night at Pauley Pavilion in Los Angeles. The victory over MSU (11-6, 3-3) will likely make the Gators the new top-ranked team when the new American Volleyball Coaches Association Top 25 poll comes out this week.
“Our team has one eye on what’s happening across the country and it’s a different world with every match being rally scoring to only 25 points,” Florida head coach Mary Wise said.
Mississippi State has never beaten the Gators in 37 matches between the two schools and have only won three total sets of 114 played against Florida.
The Bulldogs best chance for positive momentum in the match was a second-set where MSU fought for seven different ties throughout the set but fell to the Gators serving and hitting power.
“In that second set, we had a few miscues and we clean those things up and it’s even closer,” Hazelwood said. “It’s always fun to play against one of the best team’s in the country and challenge yourself. It was good for our girls to have some success doing certain things against one of the best.”
Mississippi State, which under Hazelwood has prided itself on its defense had a pair of players (junior Kellye Jordan and senior Kayla Woodard) with a pair of double-digit dig efforts.
“I think our experience really helped us in this and I thought we did a good job of maintaining our focus throughout the entire match,” Wise said.
Florida was led by 13 kills from junior Kelly Murphy and 17 total kills from the California duo of Lauren Bledsoe and Casandra Anderson.
The Gators came in spotlighting the MSU offensive duo of Caitlin Rance and Ashley Newsome and rightfully so as they combined for 18 of the Bulldogs’ 28 kills.
Mississippi State will try to stop its current losing streak (six of its last eight matches) away from home as they travel to Tennessee and Kentucky.