2009 Mississippi State Bulldogs Volleyball
And In this corner, the 2nd competitor for worst team in SEC volleyball for 2009. That team would be, the Mississippi State Lady Bulldogs. In fact, this team and the Lady Tigers have so much in common, that it really is hard to tell them apart at times, and when trying to assess where each stands as we enter the 2009 season, which is difficult to determine as well.
Just as with the Auburn Lady Tigers, the Lady Bulldogs didn't have anything that you could really fall back on as a positive when looking back at their 2008 season., The team performed badly overall, with a 6-25 record, performed abysmally in the SEC, with a 1-19 record in the conference, went 4-12 at home and 1-11 on the road. And over the course of the year, the Lady Bulldogs consistently traded places with the Lady Tigers for worst team in the SEC.
What to Look for in 2009
There is one additional thing that the Lady Bulldogs have in common with the Lady Tigers, and that is, they have one key senior graduating from the 2008 squad. There is however a key difference. That difference is this. The player that the Lady Tigers lost was incredibly valuable to the program. The player that the Lady Bulldogs have lost, Cristina Jucan, while also very valuable, did not have the incredible all over the court value as did the Lady Tigers' Glover. That said, Jucan will indeed be missed, especially on the attack, where she averaged the team's #2 at 2.69 kills per game.
The remaining attackers do provide some strength to this team, however, and should be able to accommodate for some of the kills lost by the graduation of Jucan. Much of the load will fall on the shoulders of kills per game leader in 2008, Ioana Demian, who averaged 3.04 kills per game. She may need to elevate her game significantly, possibly even into the 3.5-3.6 kills per game range to really make s difference. Other players who will need to step into the 2.0 kills per game range to compensate are Faith Steinwedell (1.81) and Ashley Newsome (1.74).
The Lady Bulldogs should be in good shape on the defensive front line, as all 3 of the teams leading blockers will all be returning to action, including team leader Ashley Newsome, who averaged over 1.0 blocks per game (1.07 specifically). The team also returns Mandy Mellencamp and Steinwedell, both of whom averaged over a half a block per game.
The team should be in reasonable shape when it comes to backline defense. The team is returning 3 players who averaged over 2.0 digs per game, in Kayla Woodard (2.81), Dorey Gray (2.12), and Ioana Demian (2.09), and a 4th returnee, in Steinwedell, who averaged just under 2 at 1.88. The one problem here is that, while there are 4 contributors here, there is no standout performer.
The Lady Bulldogs seem to have enough pieces to be, frankly, better than what they are. But they just can't seem to get it together. Will they in 2009? Who knows. They have a good shot at 5th, but they have not shown enough consistency as of yet to count on it. They'll be fighting with Auburn all year long.
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You can read more about last year's Mississippi State Bulldogs Volleyball at
2008 Mississippi State Bulldogs Volleyball.
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