Volleyball Wins Five-Set Thriller Over HPU
Asst. Communications Director
HIGH POINT, N.C. – For the third straight weekend, the LSU volleyball team rallied to win a 3-2 decision, taking the final two games Friday night at the Millis Center to remain undefeated at 7-0.
LSU won the match by scores of 20-25, 28-26, 24-26, 25-21 and 16-14, this time coming against a very tough High Point team. LSU is 7-0 for the first time since the 2013 season. High Point drops to 4-4 on the season.
The Tigers will head over to Chapel Hill for the next two days, taking on LIU Brooklyn Saturday at 2 p.m. CT and North Carolina at noon CT on Sunday.
FLORY’S FINAL COMMENTS
“This was the toughest one. We got our backs against the wall against a really well trained, super discipline, very solid team. This match could have gone either way and we were lucky to be on the right side. Our team is not going to be denied. They have something special, something different. I think we have earned that and I am excited of the fact that we can come through. We also have to understand that we don’t need to continue to put ourselves in this position. Bottom line is that it is a win.”
“The stat line doesn’t show it but Gina Tillis was great tonight. She was truly the difference in the match. She handled every portion of the game. I am super proud of her and that was one of the best performances Gina has ever had in a Tiger uniform.”
“Taylor Bannister is special. We didn’t know if we were going to be able to get her the ball enough. The best part is the efficiency. Her 26 kills in a five-set match is what I’ll take from her or anyone any day. I am not surprised that she had this type of performance this early in her career.”
“Raigen Cianciulli had a really tough week and she bounced back super well. I am super proud of her. She is a fighter and a tough-nose kid that is going to stand in and take care of her team.”
LSU got off to a slow start and fell behind 1-0 in the match in a 25-20 decision in favor of High Point in a set in which there were no leads changes and just three ties. The set was tied at 19-19 when High Point took a two point lead, 21-19, and the Tigers could not recover. LSU hit .143 in the set with only 11 kills, while HPU hit .343 with 17 kills.
The Tigers really got their rhythm going in the second set as they hit .340 with a total of 19 kills. They made just three errors. The Tigers went on a 5-1 run to take a 16-12 lead after a Tillis kill. HPU went on a 5-1 run of its own to bring them back within one, 18-17. The game would go on to be tied up at 24-24 before the two teams would trade points Back-to-back blocks by Taylor Bannister and Jaqui Armer finished off the Panthers to tie the match up 1-1.
The Tigers started off hot in the third set with a 3-1 lead but they fell behind 15-10 down the stretch, forcing them to a timeout. The two teams traded points for the next stretch but the Tigers were still behind 20-15. LSU called its second timeout of the set and Bannister came out of the timeout with back-to-back kills, two of her nine on the set. Two HPU errors put the Tigers within two, 21-19 and the two teams traded points until Toni Rodriguez tied it up at 24-24 but HPU took the final two points.
It was the third weekend in a row that LSU was playing for its life, but the Tigers started out strong with a 6-3 lead after three straight kills, including two from Olivia Beyer. HPU hung tough and ended up taking its first lead of the set over LSU at the 16-15. Rodriguez was huge and pushed the LSU squad back in front to a 19-18 lead. An HPU error gave LSU a two point lead and Bannister finished the set off with a kill to keep LSU alive.
The two teams battled it out in the fifth set as they went back and forth until LSU took a 9-7 lead after back-to-back kills by Rodriguez. The Tigers ended up falling behind 14-12 but LSU took the final four points of the match to come out on top, which included three straight kills by LSU and a block.
Bannister led LSU with 26 kills and a .605 hitting percentage. Also in double-figures with 10-plus kills were Beyer (10), Tillis (16) and Rodriguez (19).
Tillis finished with her 19th career double-double and her third on the season with 16 kills and 19 digs.
Anna Zwiebel finished with a double-double of 65 assists and 12 digs.
Libero Raigen Cianciulli led the team with 25 digs. Zweibel (12), Tillis (19) and Cheyenne Wood (13) all finished with double-figure digs.
LSU will look to continue its streak as it heads over to Chapel Hill for the rest of the weekend. The Tigers will face LIU Brooklyn in the Tar Heel Classic on Saturday at 2 p.m. CT. Sunday’s match will be against North Carolina on the ACC Network (ESPN3) at 12 p.m. CT.
Volleyball Social Center
For all of the latest news and information on Tiger volleyball, visit www.lsusports.net/volleyball. Fans can also follow the program on its social media outlets at www.Facebook.com/lsuvolleyball along with @lsuvolleyball and @lsucoachfran on Twitter and @lsuvolleyball on Instagram.