SEATTLE - Mississippi State saw its historic season come to a close on Friday with a 3-2 (25-17, 14-25, 13-25, 25-21, 11-15) defeat to Hawaii in the First Round of the 2021 NCAA Tournament at Alaska Airlines Arena in Seattle.
The No. 23-ranked Bulldogs end the 2021 season with a 25-6 overall mark and a new program record for most wins in a single-season.
Hawaii advanced to the Second Round of the NCAA Tournament as the Warriors improved to 22-7 overall. The Rainbow Wahine will face the winner of Washington and Brown in the second round on Saturday in Seattle.
As a team, Mississippi State hit .196 with 56 kills compared to a .289 attacking percentage and 61 kills by Hawaii. Senior Gabby Waden led the Dawgs with 20 kills and a .372 attacking mark, while Lauren Myrick also tallied double-digit kills with 10 on the night. Margaret Dean had a team-high 28 assists to go along with nine digs, while Gabby Coulter notched 14 assists and seven digs. Lilly Gunter led the Dawgs with 15 digs. Deja Robinson paced the Bulldogs defensively with three blocks, while Myrick had two blocks in the five-set match.
At the midway point in the first, State claimed a 15-7 lead entering a timeout after the team hit .333 with eight kills and only one error early on. The Dawgs led wire to wire in the first set, never trailing Hawaii and holding the Rainbow Wahine to a negative hitting percentage on the way to a 25-17 first-set victory. MSU tallied 14 kills in the first set compared to eight by Hawaii, while Gabby Waden, Deja Robinson and Lauren Myrick accounted for 10 of State's 14 kills in the opening frame.
In the second, MSU struggled to contain Hawaii's offense, which posted a .520 attacking mark with 15 kills and just two errant attacks to even the match at one set apiece by a score of 25-14.
Hawaii's good form continued in the third set with the Rainbow Wahine leading from start to finish thanks to a .417 hitting percentage. As for MSU, the Dawgs registered eight kills and just as many errors in the third set, allowing Hawaii to take a 2-1 lead in the match with a score of 25-13 over State.
Dawgs took a 4-3 lead in the fourth, marking the first time MSU led in the match since the first point of the second set. State continued to lead from there, forcing Hawaii to call its first timeout of the set with MSU leading 12-8...State's offense was clicking on all cylinders in a must-win fourth set as the Dawgs hit .429 with 16 kills and just four errors. Once the Dawgs took the lead at 4-3, Hawaii could only tie the score, but never regained the lead as MSU knotted the match at 2-2 to send it to a fifth set.
In the fifth and decisive set, both teams traded points until Hawaii went on a 3-0 run at 5-all to jump ahead and eventually close out a 3-2 victory over the Dawgs. MSU hit .318 in the fifth with nine kills and just two errors, but the Dawgs were bested by Hawaii, who hit .500 and posted 12 kills to one error in the set.