STARKVILLE - Mississippi State volleyball completed a weekend sweep over No. 24 Tennessee with a 3-2 (25-18, 25-23, 26-28, 15-25, 17-15) victory over the Volunteers on Sunday at The Griss for the Bulldogs' 10th straight victory.
With today's victory, MSU (22-5, 13-2 SEC) is now just one win shy of tying the program record for overall wins in a season, which is held by the 1976 Dawgs who won 23 matches. The back-to-back wins over the Volunteers this weekend marked the first time Tennessee (17-8, 9-6 SEC) has been swept in SEC play this season.
"This was one for the books," head coach Julie Darty Dennis said. "It was in dramatic fashion on our home court. We were cruising in those first two sets. I think in that third set, we thought we had it and it was going to be ours, but Tennessee came roaring back.
"It was incredible to watch our team fight. We took a little step back in that fourth set, but this group understands that we did not play great volleyball and how to move forward. In that fifth set, it was neck and neck and we had to keep it close. During that timeout at 13-13, we just said let's get it done and let's get after it point by point. The girls were clutch today and I am proud of them."
Shania Cromartie notched her fourth straight double-double on Sunday with 16 kills and just as many digs. She added three aces from behind the service line and also tallied three blocks in the win. Margaret Dean also recorded a double-double for the Dawgs, her fifth of the season, with a team-high 24 assists and 14 digs.
State led 2-0 after the first two sets, but a back-and-forth affair in the third resulted in Tennessee getting on the board following 15 ties and nine lead changes in that set alone.
The Volunteers took a 6-5 lead over MSU early in the fourth and remained in control the rest of the way, evening the match at two sets apiece with a 25-15 win in the fourth.
The fifth and decisive set saw the two teams knot the score nine different times with five lead changes, but momentum swung in favor of MSU late in the game after both Mississippi State and Tennessee continued to trade points.
At 13-all in the fifth, MSU took the lead thanks to a successful challenge by the State coaching staff gave the Dawgs their first match point of the afternoon.
Five points later, MSU clinched the five-set victory on its third match point on a kill by Jessica Kemp to put the game away. Mississippi State totaled 61 kills, had 10 service aces and 76 digs in the win. As for Tennessee, the Volunteers had 68 kills as a team, hit .204 for the match and registered 93 digs.
Gabby Waden (15 kills) reached double-digit kills for the sixth straight match and for the 20th time this season, while Lauren Myrick tallied 13 kills to help lead State to a win.
Lilly Gunter had a team-high 20 digs in the match and also totaled three service aces, while Deja Robinson was a force at the net for the Dawgs with a career-high nine blocks on the day.
State will travel to face off against Arkansas next weekend in the final road series of the regular season. The series begins at 5 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 20, in Fayetteville. The Dawgs and Razorbacks will close out the weekend on Sunday, Nov. 21, with a 3 p.m. first serve.