STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Mississippi State battled defending SEC Western Division champion LSU down to the wire before the Tigers prevailed in a five-set marathon at the Newell-Grissom Building.

As they did in Starkville a year ago, LSU (6-8) overcame a 2-1 deficit and ran its series win streak over State to 13 consecutive matches with a 3-2 win (25-21, 27-29, 20-25, 26-24, 15-12) in a match that last two hours and thirty-six minutes.

“I’m disappointed that we fought so hard and came so close to breaking through with a big win, but I am proud of the how we competed and battled throughout the match,” said head coach Jenny Hazelwood. “We had so many players that performed at high levels for us tonight, and it’s a reflection of the great week of work we had in practice.”

Roxanne McVey, tops in the SEC in total digs and third nationally in per/set average, turned in a remarkable defensive performance for State. She piled up 50 digs in five sets, easily topping her own school-record 42-scoop performance from a season-opening weekend match against Kennesaw State.

“It was an unbelievable performance by Roxanne,” said Hazelwood. “Many times tonight it was her solid and consistent play that kept us in the match.”

McVey tallied 15 digs in the second set when the Bulldogs, after spotting the Tigers the early match lead, battled back to even the match with a grueling 29-27 win. She topped that with a 19-dig showing in the third set as State topped LSU 25-20 to take a 2-1 lead in the match.

But LSU, which has won or shared every SEC Western Division crown since 2005, out-pointed State 5-1 down the stretch to keep the match alive with a 26-24 decision in the fourth set. The Tigers hit a match-best .321 with one attack error in sealing the comeback with a 15-12 win in the deciding fifth set.

Madie Jones had a match-high 20 kills, Desiree Elliott added 17 kills and a match-best seven blocks, and Helen Boyle backed a 13-kill performance with 20 digs to pace the Tigers. 

LSU nipped State in kills 72-71 while the Bulldogs claimed the defensive battle with a 122-116 advantage in digs. But it was at the net where LSU stood tallest, as the Tigers amassed a 12-5 dominance in team blocks.

There were offensive stars aplenty for State. Freshman Sarah Temperilli finished with a career-best and team-leading 19 kills on 62 swings. Her previous high for attack attempts was 30. Right behind was rookie Taylor Scott, who approached her career-best with 18 kills and backed that with 20 digs for her fifth double-double. Senior outside hitter Chanelle Baker sparkled in career-best fashion with 16 kills on a team-leading .310 hitting night. The Bulldog co-captain came through with 13 digs to register her third double-double of the year.

A third Bulldog also reached double-double status for the fifth time this season and the 17th time in her career, junior setter Paris Perret. Perret directed the MSU offense to the tune of 59 assists, a season-high and the third-most in a match in her MSU career. “Paris ran a good offense tonight,” said Hazelwood. “She made some nice decisions and helped give us a chance to challenge a good LSU team tonight.” She eclipsed the 500 mark in assists for the season tonight and raised her career assist total to 2,556, sixth-most at MSU.

“It was a rare off-night for our middles,” said Hazelwood. “They have been so solid for us all season long. I know LSU had something to do with that. But we’re making progress as a program, and it was great to see the players playing hard and having fun on the court tonight. We’ve just got to keep making that progress.”