Balanced Attack Lifts No. 17 Volleyball Past Auburn
AUBURN, Ala. - The No. 17 LSU volleyball team used a balanced effort as five players recorded six or more kills sparked by Tania Schatow's seven spikes on a career-high .700 hitting percentage en route to a 3-0 sweep of Auburn [25-20, 25-20, 29-27] Sunday at the Student Activities Center on the Plains.
The seven kills for Schatow also equaled a season-high, which came against Siena back on opening weekend. LSU became the first SEC team in seven tries to sweep the Georgia-Auburn road weekend this season.
"We feel Tania is someone that we get into some great situations," head coach Fran Flory said. "She hasn't been comfortable in the offense until today. We created for her and she also created for herself. When those two things match up, she can be very successful."
LSU (19-2, 10-2 SEC) kept pace with Ole Miss, a 3-2 winner at Alabama, for first place in the SEC Western Division race. The Tigers racked up a 66 percent sideout efficiency in addition to an impressive 56-for-57 passer rating for the match.
"I think I did a good job of transitioning and getting off the net," Schatow said. "I have to credit to our defense for those chances. We talked about digging more accurately to the target at practice. They did a phenomenal job. Without them, I wouldn't have gotten those transition kills."
Offensively, Brittney Johnson handed out 32 assists as two hitters garnered 10 or more kills highlighted by Michele Williams, who ripped a match-best 13 kills. Angela Bensend chipped in 10 kills and secured 11 digs for her sixth double-double of the season.
LSU also received seven kills and four blocks from Desiree Elliott, while Madie Jones popped six kills on 14 swings for a .429 hitting ratio.
"Angela is a finisher," Flory said. "She's been a little frustrated and a little out of sync. We've been running our offense at the wrong tempo for her. For a big portion of this match, we were back into a great rhythm and got back to who we are. Brittney did an excellent job of managing of the balance we have in our new offense."
LSU sprinted out to a 6-1 edge in the opening set behind three quick Elliott kills and a solo stuff from the reigning SEC Freshman of the Week. Auburn charged back with 13 of the next 19 points to go up 14-12 capped by a block on Johnson. The Purple and Gold regrouped via three Williams and Schatow spikes apiece to surge back ahead 22-17. Bensend provided the final blow of the 25-20 victory.
At 2-2, LSU took control of set two with five straight points highlighted by two Bensend kills, a Bensend-Elliott stuff and a Meghan Mannari ace. Auburn got back within two points on six separate occasions, the latest at 17-15, but LSU answered each time to win going away 25-20.
The third set was a back-and-forth affair as neither team could gain more than a three-point edge. Auburn grabbed the first two set point chances at 24-23 and 25-24, both chances were wiped away before Williams and Bensend struck for consecutive spikes to secure the sweep and the 29-27 triumph.
"It was a great feeling to get the match over with and get the win," Bensend said. "Credit Meghan's serve, it's the only reason it happen [on the overpass]. This was a big weekend for us coming off the Ole Miss loss. We're here to win and really picked it up this weekend."
Auburn (16-8, 7-5 SEC) was headlined by Camila Jersonsky's nine kills on 13 kills for a .625 hitting percentage. Sarah Bullock and Katherine Culwell tallied eight kills each for the Tigers. On the back row, Liz Crouch corralled 10 digs.
"I'm proud of the entire weekend for our team, this is a great win for us," Flory said. "We came in with a new level of intensity and a new commitment to execute at a high level. I thought we did an excellent job of fighting through every play."
LSU welcomes Mississippi State Friday for its annual Pink Match in support of breast cancer awareness to open a three-match home swing. First serve is slated for 7 p.m. inside the Maravich Center.
Live video and live stats also will be available on LSUsports.net in the Geaux Zone. Fans also can follow live in-match updates on the team's official blog at http://lsuvolleyball.posterous.com.