The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

Grit in the Griss: MSU volleyball climbs SEC rankings

John Griffin | The Reflector
Outside hitter Callie Minshew plays in the spring 2021 game against Missouri.

Coming into the weekend with anticipation of increasing their win streak, the Mississippi State University Bulldogs faced the Texas A&M Aggies on their home court in Starkville, Mississippi. 

Starting off the weekend with a 3-1 win on Saturday afternoon, the Dawgs had momentum pushing them through their Sunday 3-1 win.

At 3 P.M. on Saturday, the start of a two-day matchup began. The volley-Dawgs were strong behind the serving line throughout the night. 

“I think we were pretty tough and gutsy from the serving line,” head coach Julie Darty-Dennis said post-game. 

The first set of the night was taken by MSU, a 25-23 win from a close set. Texas A&M took the second set 25-20, but a Bulldog comeback resulted in the final two sets of 27-25 and 25-16. 

On Sunday afternoon, 10 minutes before the game, fans rose to their feet and cheered for their Bulldog volleyball team, which stood at fourth in the Southeastern Conference after Saturday’s game. 

Power set the precedent in the first point of the night, with a strong serve from graduate student Margaret Dean, a setter from Bedford, Texas. By the first timeout, called by Texas A&M, the Bulldogs were up 8-3. 

A 25-11 set win put the Bulldogs ahead for their second set of the day. 

The Aggies pulled out more fight in the second set, carrying a small lead for much of the set. At the media timeout, Texas was up 15-11. 

That lead turned into a set win for the Aggies, 25-22.

During the second and third sets, MSU took over. They took the second set 25-15 and the third 25-21.

Following this 3-1 win over the Aggies for the second day in a row, the Bulldog volleyball team climbed the SEC rankings another spot, positioning themselves at third.

This win also has the Dawgs holding a 7-2 SEC record. With this, they have more than tripled their total SEC wins for last season and are just at the halfway point for conference play this season.

Shania Cromartie, sophomore outside hitter from Tallahassee, Florida, led the team in kills for Sunday afternoon with 13. 

“We just focused on taking a lot of pride and just not having lulls throughout the game, just trying to be the same team from start to finish and I think that we’ve been doing a pretty good job of that,” Cromartie said post-game. “Also, 24 hours after win or loss, we’re focused on the next team, not being too high or too low. We just want to get 1% better every day and be the best versions of ourselves that we can be.”

Cromartie’s mention of coming into the game with a clean slate, regardless of how the previous game went, was shown in their consistent determination and performance from the beginning of both games. 

Head coach Dennis spoke highly of her team after both games in the weekend matchup. 

“… I think we did a nice job of just staying the course and just understanding it’s a process and we’re just going to go point-by-point and they stayed focused and they gutted it out,” Dennis shared after Sunday’s match. 

Aside from the goals achieved by the team as a whole, there was also a notice of the defensive efforts of sophomore defensive specialist Lilly Gunter. The Oviedo, Florida, native shares this week’s title of SEC Defensive Player of the Week. 

Gunter racked up a total of 36 digs for the weekend. 

The efforts from the weekend bring her total career digs as a Bulldog to 333. 

As the Bulldogs prepare for the second half of their conference play, they head to Athens, Georgia, on Wednesday, where they will have another opportunity for SEC play.

About the Contributor
Lydia Palmer
Lydia Palmer, Former Sports Editor
Lydia Palmer served as the Sports Editor from 2020 to 2021.
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Grit in the Griss: MSU volleyball climbs SEC rankings