STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Returning home for the first time in nine matches, the Mississippi State Bulldogs (12-5, 2-2 SEC) took down the South Carolina Gamecocks (7-10, 0-4 SEC) in a five-set contest at Newell-Grissom on Sunday.
The win snapped a two-match skid to South Carolina and also marked the 12th win of the season, tying for the most in year in the last eight years.
State rode the impressive play of its attackers, as it had four players with 10-plus kills in the same match for the first time since defeating LSU at home last season.
MSU made an impressive comeback to win the first set, 25-23, taking a 1-0 lead. South Carolina took control to win the second set, 25-13, but State fired back in the third to take a 2-1 lead, winning the frame, 25-23. The Bulldogs held a four-point lead late in the fourth, but the Gamecocks rallied back to force a fifth set, 25-20. MSU would take back control in the fifth, going on to win the set, 15-13, and the match, 3-2.
"That was not our best performance out there from this season, but it's always nice to get a win the SEC, which is the best sports league out there," MSU coach David McFatrich said. " We showed flashes of great play, but just could not be consistent from start the finish. We've learned a lot from this match and we'll get back in the gym this week and get better."
State went down 12-6 early, but would mount a rally off an 8-1 run to take a 14-13 lead. The two sides would trade points before the Bulldogs pulled away behind a series of runs, going up 22-18. USC would tie the set once more, this time at 23-all, but kills from Chelsea Duhs and Alex Warren would seal a 25-23 first-set win for the Maroon and White.
The Gamecocks took control early in the second set and never let up, using an early 7-1 run and then a series of smaller runs midway through the set. The Bulldogs would try to claw their way back into the match, but could not close the gap, as USC took tied the match with a 25-13 win in the second.
Sunday's third set started as a back-and-forth affair before a 7-1 run highlighted by a pair of kills from Jazmyne Johnson and a number of errors from USC. State would earn set, up 24-20, but had to fight off a furious rally from the Gamecocks to take the set, 25-23, and a 2-1 lead in the match.
MSU looked poised to take the match in the fourth, going up by three at 18-15. However, USC would relent, as it fought back to tie it at 20-all. All in all, a 6-0 run pushed the Gamecocks to a 25-20 fourth-set victory to force a decisive fifth set.
State jumped ahead 7-1 to start the fifth and looked in position to close out the match in dominating fashion. South Carolina would chip away at the Bulldogs' lead, closing the gap to one, but would come no closer. Warren and Duhs teamed up once again with kills to take the set, 15-13, and seal the match, 3-2.
Evie Grace Singleton paced the Bulldogs with 18 kills, while tying a career high with five aces. Warren tacked on 13 kills, while Duhs and Emily Howard added 12 and 10, respectively.
Blossom Sato set a career high with 50 assists, while also adding two service aces.
Leading the MSU block was Johnson, who had three on the day. Payton Harris led all players with 25 digs, her third match this season with 25-plus.
South Carolina was led by Sarah Blomgren, who tallied 20 kills. Aubrey Ezell led USC with 49 assists and four aces. Joely Cabrera was tops for the Gamecocks with 18 digs, while Darian Dozier led all players with eight blocks total.
MSU returns next weekend at The Griss, hosting Missouri and Georgia. MSU and Mizzou face off Friday, Oct. 9, at 7 p.m. CT, while the battle of the Bulldogs is set for noon on Sunday, Oct. 11. Both matches will be broadcasted on the SEC Network +.