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Bulldogs sweep Tigers for back-to-back conference wins

1918 days ago
Mississippi State Athletics

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- For the second-straight match, Alex Warren spearheaded a furious Bulldog attack as Mississippi State volleyball (16-15, 5-12 SEC) swept the LSU Tigers (9-19, 5-12 SEC) Wednesday night at Newell-Grissom.

The win secures MSU at least a .500 finish to the season for the first time since 2006. It also gives State back-to-back conference wins and sweeps for the first time since 2013.

Unlike the five-set thriller last year, it only took three for MSU to take care of business tonight, securing consecutive home wins against the Tigers for the first time in program history.

The sweep is the 12th of the year, which is also the most since 2006.

Warren's 18 kills paced all players for the match, while Evie Grace Singleton's 15 was second on the team. Combined the two had 5 aces on the night, with Singleton leading all players with 3. Her first ace of the night, which put MSU up 19-7 in the first, was also the 100th of her career.

"This was a much-needed performance from this team after struggling a little bit of late. Between Alex [Warren] and Evie Grace [Singleton], our offense was in rhythm all night," MSU coach David McFatrich said. "Our girls showed exactly what Bulldog volleyball is all about from start to finish."

Despite LSU winning the attacking battle with a .250 hitting percentage, the Bulldogs used a strong service game and 9 kills between Warren, Singleton and Jazmyne Johnson to take the opening set, 25-21. MSU upped its lead to as much as eight in the first frame, but the Tigers pulled all the way back to within one, down 22-21. However, Singleton put the nail in the coffin with a kill and back-to-back aces to seal a 1-0 match lead.

Singleton and Warren escalated their game in the second set, totaling 15 kills as MSU hit .220 to lead the offensive charge. However, 10 errors from the home squad allowed LSU to come within a point of tying the match at 1-all. The set was a back-and-forth affair until the very end, with neither side gaining more than a three-point lead. In a frame that featured a match-high 16 ties and five lead changes, both sides had set points, but MSU would be the one to prevail. State earned three-straight kills from Johnson, Emily Howard and Duhs to erase LSU's set point and secure a 2-0 lead with a 26-24 set win.

The night's final set saw MSU jump out to a fast start, up 4-1. The Tigers would work their way back into the contest, eventually jumping ahead by as much as three. The Bulldogs would push back into the lead and used an 8-1 run to put the match away, sealing the set to the tune of 25-18 and completing the sweep.

Behind the impressive showings from Warren and Singleton, Duhs and Johnson each tallied 6 kills, while Howard contributed 3. Gina Tillis was the Tigers' top kill producer with 17.

Shelby Anderton led the match with 27 assists. LSU received 9 assists each from Lindsay Flory and Cheyenne Wood.

Payton Harris' 18 digs moved her closer to ninth place on the MSU career digs list. Her 1,154 career total stands 28 behind Heather Schilling (1992-95) for ninth. Haley Smith topped the visitors with 13 digs.

LSU won the blocking battle Wednesday night with 4.0 to MSU's 2.0. Johnson and Warren each tallied 2 block assists. Three different Tigers recorded 2 blocks.

MSU will close out the 2015 campaign with a Senior Day showdown against in-state rival Ole Miss on Friday, Nov. 27. First serve for the contest is set for 2 p.m. CT at The Griss and will be live-streamed on the SEC Network +. The Bulldogs will honor the careers of their five seniors: Shelby Anderton, Ellen Stuart, Emily Howard, Alex Warren and Amber Gass.

"We're very excited to end this season against Ole Miss in what is going to be a very exciting match at The Griss," McFatrich said. "These five seniors have been crucial to building the foundation of this team. Without them, we are not where we're at right now and Friday is our chance to send them out on a high note."

For more information and updates on Mississippi State volleyball, fans can follow the Bulldogs on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram at HailStateVB.