Volleyball Falls in Five Sets to No. 6 Kentucky
Asst. Communications Director
BATON ROUGE – After taking a 2-0 lead on the No. 6 ranked team in the country, the LSU volleyball team (16-5, 7-3 SEC) suffered its first loss in the Maravich Center, falling in five sets to Kentucky (18-2, 9-0 SEC) by scores of 25-12, 25-18, 19-25, 18-25, 11-15 Friday evening.
Senior Gina Tillis led the Tigers with a match-high of 15 kills and 17 digs, her ninth double-double on the year. Junior Toni Rodriguez added 12 kills, while sophomore Anna Zwiebel dished out 40 assists and freshman Raigen Cianciulli registered 17 digs.
Fran’s Final Thoughts
“I thought we gave an incredible effort. We had our chances and we just didn’t quite play clean enough at critical times to either catch them or expand the lead. When you jump on a team like that the first two sets you can’t let them off the mat. You have to give them credit. They rose to the occasion. They have a top-ten program and they have an incredibly talented lineup. We had the game plan to beat them, we had the situation to beat them, and we had the matchups to beat them. We were just a few plays short. I’m super proud of our team. I’m proud of their effort. I’m proud of Gina Tillis, most kills and digs in the match. I thought we were pretty balanced tonight.”
It was all about runs for the Tigers in the first set as they got out to a strong start by scoring the first three points of the match. A 6-0 run pushed their lead over the Wildcats to 11-4. Another run gave the Tigers a 15-8 lead and forced the Wildcats to take a timeout. LSU led 21-10 after another 5-0 run. The Tigers finished out the set on a 4-1, claiming the first set 25-12. The Tigers hit .480 and tallied 15 kills on the set. They held Kentucky to a .000 hitting percentage and just eight kills.
After being down 9-4 to start the second set, the Tigers rallied with a 6-1 run to tie up the set 10-10. The Tigers and the Wildcats went point-for-point before the Tigers took the lead for good after a 3-0 run. A 4-0 run for LSU pushed its lead to 19-13. The Tigers closed out the set on a 6-3 run for a 25-18 set win. The Tigers outhit the Wildcats again, .286-.189.
Kentucky got out to a 6-1 lead to start the third set. The Tigers went on a 4-0 run to cut the Wildcats lead to 6-5. But Kentucky went on an 11-4 run to jump to a 17-9 lead. The Tigers battled back and cut the Wildcats lead to 22-16 after four straight points. Kentucky had set point after two straight points but the Tigers held them off for three straight before the Wildcats claimed the set 25-19. The Wildcats outhit the Tigers .333-.000.
The fourth set went back and forth as the set was tied up 8-8, 9-9 and 10-10. But Kentucky regained its lead at 13-10. The Wildcats extended their lead to 20-14 and forced LSU to call a timeout. LSU put together two straight points but two Tiger errors gave Kentucky the set 25-18 and forced a deciding fifth set.
The set was tied up five times and had three lead changes. The Tigers were down 10-7 but two straight points brought them within two, cutting the Kentucky lead to 10-9. The Wildcats went on a 3-0 run to take a 13-9 advantage. LSU rallied for two straight points to bring the Tigers within two, but the Wildcats finished off the set with the final two points.
>> The loss is the first loss for the Tigers in the Maravich Center this year. They are now 6-1 in the PMAC.
>> The five-set loss is the first five-set loss on the season. The Tigers are now 5-1 in five-set matches.
>> The Tigers held Kentucky to their lowest hitting percentage on the year at .199.
The Tigers will look to get back on the winning track as they play host to Tennessee on Sunday in the PMAC at 1 p.m. CT. The match will be available on the SEC Network+ with Lyn Rollins and Garrett Walvoord on the call.
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