STARKVILLE, Miss. - Mississippi State's volleyball team found the response it needed to grind out a winning weekend as the Bulldogs knocked off Abilene Christian to conclude the Maroon & White Invite and non-conference play.
Abilene Christian (5-7) took the first 25-21, but State (7-3) stormed back to take the following three sets 25-23, 25-16, 25-14.
"I thought our leaders did a really good job today," head coach Julie Darty Dennis said. Amina [Shackelford] and Lauren [Myrick] are leaders for us and they had to carry a huge load. I was really proud of the team for figuring out a way to fight it out and win; it was pretty gritty. I think we are exactly where we need to be heading into SEC play. I said at the beginning of the year that we are a young group, we do not have a ton of experience. We learned a lot this preseason, so I am pretty excited to head to Texas A&M this week."
On the offensive front, the Bulldogs notched 48 kills, with All-Tournament pick Amina Shackelford and Karli Schmidt leading the way with 13 kills each. Shackelford had a .393 hitting mark on her season-high 13 kills and added six blocks. On top of Schmidt's 13 kills she added five digs, two aces and two blocks.
Mississippi State held Abilene Christian to a .061 hitting percentage, tallying 18 blocks on the night. Along with Shackelford, Sanaa Williams tallied six blocks in the four-setter.
Caylee Sharkey came away with seven kills and two blocks, whereas Zoe Gonzales managed five kills and five blocks. Graduate Lauren Myrick saw a familiar role as an outside hitter and registered a season-high five kills and two blocks, while adding 12 digs.
The Bulldogs offense was anchored by Alexa Fortin Goede and Emily Oerther, who combined for 39 assists and 17 digs. Goede registered her second consecutive double-double with 22 assists and 10 digs. Individually, Oerther issued 17 assists, seven digs and an ace.
Freshman Mary Neal wore the libero jersey proud, leading the backcourt defense for MSU with a season-high 16 digs while adding five assists and three aces.
State will head to College Station, Texas, for its SEC opener against Texas A&M on Wednesday. First serve is set for 7 p.m. CT.