OXFORD, Miss. -- In a young season already filled with a number of highlights, this Sunday afternoon in Oxford provided perhaps one of the sweetest moments this year so far. The Mississippi State Bulldogs (11-4, 1-1 SEC) took down the Ole Miss Rebels (14-3, 0-2 SEC) in straight sets at the Gillom Sports Center on the SEC Network, snapping a six-match losing streak.
The win is the first sweep against the Rebels since winning 3-0 in Starkville on Sept. 13, 2006. It also marked State's first victory against their rivals from Oxford since 2011.
"That was an unbelievable win for our girls, our staff and the entire Mississippi State University family," MSU first-year coach David McFatrich said. "We played true Bulldog volleyball from start to finish and I could not be more proud of this team. I am very thankful for all the administration for giving me this shot to lead this program and it's awesome to win this for them."
The win also gives McFatrich a 1-0 advantage against Ole Miss head man Steven McRoberts. McFatrich coached under McRoberts from 2007-10 at Central Arkansas before taking over.
The Bulldogs earned their ninth sweep of the season and their first sweep in SEC play since taking down Tennessee 3-0 in Starkville in 2013. MSU easily took the first set, 25-17, but had to fend off a furious Ole Miss rally in the second to win, 25-23. The Bulldogs closed the door in the third, never letting UM lead behind a stellar defensive showing, winning 25-18, and the match, 3-0.
State put its foot on the gas pedal to start thanks to a crushing solo block from junior Jazmyne Johnson. Both sides would play it close until a 9-1 run shot the Bulldogs into a lead they would not give up. The Rebels would attempt a number of small runs, but MSU kept UM at bay, sealing the match on Alex Warren's fifth kill of the frame, 25-17.
The Rebels would grab their only lead of the match with a kill to open the second set, but State would jump ahead once again and never look back. The two sides would remain close until MSU's Johnson sparked a 6-1 run to go up 16-10. MSU would push its lead to 21-13 before Ole Miss rallied to tie the match at 23-all. However, a block from Johnson and a kill from Warren put the nail in the coffin of the second set, 25-23.
Sunday's final set showed the true definition of Bulldog volleyball, as State used a number of runs, stalwart defense and a brutal attack to put the match away. Ole Miss was able to tie the set up twice, at 7-7 and 12-12. However, a kill from Warren and a pair of aces from sophomore Payton Harris sparked what would be the final blow from the Bulldogs. State would outscore the Rebels 13-6 the rest of the way, finishing off the set, 25-18, and the match, 3-0.
Warren led all players for the match with 13 kills, while also three blocks to put her at 201 total blocks for her career. Evie Grace Singleton was close behind with 10 kills, two aces and a pair of blocks.
As a whole, MSU hit .265 offensively, with four Bulldog attackers hitting above .300 for the match, including a match-high .538 from Johnson.
Freshman Blossom Sato tallied 34 assists to facilitate the Bulldog attack, drawing her season total to 494.
Johnson had a dominating day on both sides of the ball, totaling nine kills and eight blocks for a total of 14.5 points. Warren also added three blocks, while both Sato and Singleton both had two.
Harris added eight digs to her team-high three aces.
MSU's defense continued its tear through the season, holding the Rebels to a .123 hitting percentage, while out-blocking them 10-7. The Bulldogs held Ole Miss below a .150 clip in both the second and third sets, including a .000 percentage in the second.
Ole Miss was led by Ty Laporte, who had seven kills. Aubrey Edie earned 27 assists, while Kristen Brashear led all players with five aces and 10 digs. Nakeyta Clair topped the team with five blocks.
The Bulldogs have the week to practice before hitting the road for a split weekend of SEC play. MSU travels to No. 24 Kentucky on Friday, Oct. 2, for a 6 p.m. CT, showdown in Lexington. The Maroon and White return home on Sunday, Oct. 4, hosting the South Carolina Gamecocks at 11 a.m., at The Griss. Both matches will be nationally broadcasted on the SEC Network.