The Mississippi State University volleyball team managed their 10th straight win this weekend against the 24th ranked Tennessee Volunteers. Several times, the Bulldogs allowed Tennessee to come back, but they kept rallying to eventually pull ahead.
After the game on Sunday, head coach Julie Darty Dennis spoke about the back and forth of the match.
"That was one for the books. 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 and gut it out like that. I think we took a little step back in that fourth set, they didn't play great volleyball, but this group understands. They can say, 'We didn't play great volleyball and how do we move forward?' In that fifth set, it was neck and neck and we just 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 so proud of them."
The game on Sunday was close all the way. Two sets were won by small margins, 25-18 and 25-23. The Bulldogs slowed down in the next set and barely lost 26-28. The fourth set took a plunge for the Bulldogs and they lost 15-25. This sent them into a fifth and final set to win or lose the match. The last set of the game on Sunday was a very close win. The two teams were trading points, but the Bulldogs were able to gain the advantage when they had a successful challenge that put them into the first match point. The third match point ended the set 17-15.
With this win over Tennessee, MSU is only one match away from tying the record for wins in a season within this program. This record (26 matches) was set in 1976. Darty spoke to this potential history.
"We don't talk a lot about the history until after. That's definitely something to celebrate," Darty said.
This match could have some incredible connotations for MSU, and might ensure them a bid into the NCAA top 25, after the Bulldogs have already clinched a postseason bid to the NCAA tournament, more than likely.
Darty attributed a lot of credit for the wins to the fans that showed up to Newell-Grissom to support the team.
"I think we were excited to come home, a lot of our wins against these big ranked teams like Florida, and we had a big win against Kentucky, we were on the road. So we were excited to have our fans and our home court advantage and play some good volleyball in front of them because they've been such a vital part of our success. We just feel the energy from them so much, so it was absolutely incredible, the atmosphere, they kept us in it those tight points. I'm just so grateful and so thankful that we've got the Bulldog family."
Mississippi State University volleyball will take on Arkansas next week, Nov. 20 and 21, in Fayetteville. First serve on Saturday is at 5 p.m., and at 3 p.m. on Sunday. The next home game is Nov. 26 against Auburn in Newell-Grissom gymnasium.