No. 16 Volleyball Steamrolls Alabama
BATON ROUGE - Angela Bensend and Madie Jones hammered home 11 kills apiece as the No. 16 LSU offense used a balanced attack to power past Alabama [25-18, 25-23, 25-21] Sunday at the Maravich Center on Cox Sports Television.
Jones made the most of her 20 swings en route to an impressive .450 hitting percentage, while Bensend notched double-digit kills for the 20th time this season. The Tigers are 33-2 when Bensend reaches 10 or more kills for her career.
"Madie was very good, she got lots of great opportunities," head coach Fran Flory said. "Angela got lots of out of system opportunities and was very creative. I was very proud of both of their efforts in terms of managing every contact and making lots positive touches, not giving away points by making silly errors."
With the victory, LSU (21-2, 12-2 SEC) held its one-match lead over Ole Miss in the SEC Western Division race. The two teams will meet next Sunday in the Capitol City.
Brittney Johnson distributed 35 assists to spark LSU's offense to a scorching .352 hitting ratio, its ninth plus .300 performance of the season. The Baton Rouge native also cranked a season-best nine kills to fall just short of her 10th double-double.
"Talk about a very athletic girl, Johnson has improved so much," libero Lauren Waclawczyk said. "It has been great to see her grow and become the player that she is today. Some of the plays that she makes make your jaw drop. She has been a big part of our success, and she is doing an awesome job."
Michele Williams and Desiree Elliott tacked on nine and six kills, respectively. Both players added a pair of blocks.
The LSU defense limited Alabama (9-14, 2-12 SEC) to a stout .194 hitting clip and was 59-for-59 to record its second team perfect passer rating on the 2010 campaign. The Tigers also registered a stellar 68 sideout percentage highlighted by an 18-for-22 effort in the third set.
Meghan Mannari sprawled out for 13 digs followed by Waclawczyk, who posted her 10th consecutive double figure dig performance.
"Meghan makes plays nobody expects to be made," Flory said. "She comes out of nowhere and is accurate. That's no surprise to us, and we are certainly glad she is keeping her rhythm. I thought she did a great job serving today, so that was a nice balanced effort from her."
Down 6-5 in the first set, LSU pieced together five straight points fueled by two kills and two blocks from Williams to surge ahead 10-6. Alabama kept the margin within three points on seven occasions, the latest at 17-14, before the Tigers reeled off eight of the final 12 points sparked by a quartet of Williams spikes to secure the 25-18 win.
LSU led wire-to-wire in set two and fired out to a 5-1 advantage behind three Alabama attack errors. Tania Schatow ripped all four of her kills during the frame, the final one gave the Tigers a 23-20 lead. The Tide charged back to 24-23, but its seventh hitting miscue pushed LSU into a two-set lead.
Out of the locker room, LSU clicked on all cylinders as the Tigers led throughout the entire third set. Bensend and Jones teamed for 11 kills on 14 swings to ignite a .500 team hitting clip. At both 18-17 and 19-18, Bensend provided back-to-back critical sideout spikes. Jones connected for the final blow to vault LSU into the winners circle with the 25-21 victory.
"It's hard to beat a team that is balanced and has lots of good players," Jones said. "We're trying to be balanced right now and have kills all across the net, not just from one specific person. I think we're doing a good job of keeping it that way."
Alabama was paced by Alyssa Meuth, who tallied seven of her match-high 14 kills during set three. Kelsey Anderson picked up a match-best 13 digs from the libero position for the Crimson Tide.
LSU wraps up its three-match homestand next Sunday against Ole Miss. First serve is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. inside the Maravich Center. Fans who bring their Alabama football game ticket receive free admission.
Live video and live stats 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.Volleyball Postmatch Quotes
No. 16 LSU vs. Alabama - October 31, 2010
Head Coach Fran Flory
On Brittney Johnson's performance ...
"Brittney has done a great job. We have switched our offense, and we have more weapons. This is a transition period. She has to figure out who to set and when. There are so many more decisions and options. I thought she did a great job today."
On Brittney Johnson's play in the third set ...
"Everyone is going to try to stop Desiree because she's putting up the biggest numbers, and she's the newest one. They don't really know how to defend her yet because they haven't had much time against her. The reason we changed the lineup was to give Brittney some other options and to take some of the pressure of Desiree so that she doesn't have to be the one in those rotations."
On the performance of Madie Jones and Angela Bensend ...
"I thought Madie Jones was very good, she got lots of great opportunities. Angela Bensend got lots of out of system opportunities and was very creative. I was very proud of both of their efforts in terms of managing every contact and making lots positive touches, not giving away points by making silly errors."
On the defensive play ...
"I thought we were better in the first two sets. I thought in the third set we kind of let up defensively, but the first two sets were very good. Meghan [Mannari] makes plays nobody expects to be made. She comes out of nowhere and is accurate. That's no surprise to us, and we are certainly glad she is keeping her rhythm. I thought she did a great job serving today, so that was a nice balanced effort from her."
On the Ole Miss match ...
"Every SEC match is an adventure, and Ole Miss is a great team. They're very balanced, athletic and got us in their gym. I'm sure our team will have a little bit more incentive. Every match in the SEC can either make or break your season. We will be very prepared just as we were for every match to this point."
Outside Hitter Madie Jones
On the weekend sweep ...
"It was really nice to be at home this weekend. We're normally more comfortable in our home building. We're very excited about this weekend. These were two important matches to get under our belt and we're looking forward to what's coming up."
On the team's improved hitting percentage ...
"That is something we've really needed to improve upon. I think when we started passing well and dug a lot of balls, it became very easy to stay efficient."
On the balance of the team ...
"It's hard to beat a team that is balanced and has lots of good players. We're trying to be balanced right now and have kills all across the net, not just from one specific person. I think we're doing a good job of keeping it that way."
On the performance of Brittney Johnson ...
"She's a great leader and inspires us to be our best. She knows how to push us and make sure that we know what we're doing when we get the ball."
On the upcoming weekend ...
"It's going to be a little bit of revenge for us against Ole Miss. That will be another very important match for us. We will prepare all week for them. We have some things that we need to work on, so we're very excited about that."
Libero Lauren Waclawczyk
On the team's performance ...
"It feels very good to get two good wins. Most of the time, we had a good rhythm and flow going. We have a few things we need to work on. We're going to work hard in practice this week, get some rest, but get the needed repetitions to get ready for next Sunday's big match [against Ole Miss]."
On Brittney Johnson's performance ...
"Talk about a very athletic girl, she has improved so much. It has been great to see her grow and become the player that she is today. Some of the plays that she makes make your jaw drop. She has been a big part of our success, and she is doing an awesome job."
On the team's defensive effort ...
"Our goal is to always frustrate the other team. We have done a great job all season of keeping our opponent to a low hitting percentage. It's awesome to see us grow. We have become very close as a back row. It's fun to work with those girls because we all have the same goal in mind, which is success. We're working very hard for that."
On the upcoming Ole Miss match ...
We're going to take it as another match in the SEC, but there is a little revenge that we would like to get. We're going to take it one day at a time and get prepared. Our coaches always do a great job of getting us prepared. We're going to prepare and hopefully come out with another win."