COLUMBIA, Mo. - The LSU volleyball team was limited to 27 kills and 27 digs, both season-lows, and was dealt a 3-0 setback by Missouri [18-25, 18-25, 14-25] Sunday in-front of a spirited 1,568 fans during its inaugural SEC appearance at the Hearnes Center.
LSU (12-14, 8-9 SEC) had its season's best three-match winning streak come to close whereas Missouri (18-8, 9-7 SEC) improved to 10-3 at home on the season.
"This was an extremely disappointing match for our team," head coach Fran Flory said. "Offensively, we scored a ton of points and executed the game plan extremely well Friday night at Georgia. Today, we weren't able to get on track and score many points against Missouri. We lost the serve-pass battle and just about every other battle out on the court. We didn't play to our strengths and give ourselves a chance to be successful."
For the fourth time this season, LSU failed to put a player in double digit kills and was limited to a .103 team hitting ratio. Madie Jones popped a team-high eight kills. It was only the second occasion in the last 16 matches dating back to September 16 where Jones was unable to produce at least 10 kills.
Helen Boyle, a Missouri native playing in-front a healthy contingent of family and friends, tacked on six kills in addition to five digs and two blocks. Desiree Elliott tallied four kills, a season-low, on just 11 swings.
On the back line, Meghan Mannari garnered a season's low eight digs. It marked just the third time during her last 19 outings going back to opening weekend where Mannari posted single figure digs.
"I believe there were close to 60 people to support Helen," Flory said. "That's a great tribute to the type of person that she is. We appreciate the support, and we're sorry that we didn't do a better job for them. I thought Helen and the rest of our team played hard. We didn't believe or trust in each other. We couldn't do anything to get over the hump."
Molly Kreklow handed out a match-high 41 assists and directed the Missouri attack to a crisp .375 hitting percentage for the match. Lisa Henning picked up a solid all-around effort and powered down a match-leading 15 kills to go along with seven digs and five blocks.
Regan Peltier chipped in eight kills and eight digs, while Whitney Little secured six kills and six blocks. Emily Wilson and Lyndia Ely rounded out the Mizzou offense with seven and six kills, respectively.
"Quite honestly, Kreklow was the difference in the match," Flory said. "She's ahead of where we are in that position on the court. She did a wonderful job of controlling their offensive rhythm and tempo. They run a fast, explosive and physical system. If you're not able to get them out of system serving wise or get somebody in-front of them with your first line of defense from a blocking standpoint then it can be a long day. Unfortunately, that's the type of match that it turned into for us."
The two teams were neck-and-neck during the opening moments of the first set. A Jones kill brought LSU back to within 9-7, but Missouri ripped off seven of the next eights to seize control of the frame. Henning sparked the spurt with four kills which included back-to-back spikes to make it 16-8. LSU cut the deficit down to four points on a quartet of occasions, the latest at 20-16. Missouri closed out the 25-18 win by organizing a triple block on a Jones attack.
Set two stayed tight until Missouri extended a one-point edge at 17-16 into a 22-17 advantage. Missouri used a pair of aces to trigger the 5-1 run and capped the 25-18 victory on its sixth block of the stanza. Little led the way with four stuffs in the set.
The two teams shared the first eight points of the third set before Missouri reeled off six consecutive points. Kreklow knocked two kills of her own and found Little for two more spikes. The Missouri offense turned 17 kills in a match-best .484 hitting percentage for the set and completed the sweep going away by a 25-14 margin.
"Our team still has a lot of fight in it," Flory said. "Our seniors are doing a pretty good job of trying to lead and leave a mark on this program. This team still has some improving to do. They've done a great job of getting back in the gym and getting back to work after losses. They're still engaged, and I'm proud of them for that. At the end of day, our job as coaches is to make this group the most successful team it can be and allow it to play at the highest level that it can. We still have an opportunity to get better, and I think our players will come into the gym this week ready to cease that opportunity."
LSU moves into the second leg of its four-match road swing Friday to face SEC frontrunner and No. 16 Florida. First serve is on-tap for 6 p.m. CT from the O'Connell Center, and a free audio webcast for Friday's match is available inside the Geaux Zone at LSUsports.net/live.
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