Volleyball Preview Part 1: Outside Hitters
It’s the nature of head coach Fran Flory and the LSU volleyball program to aim high. The 2013 season will be no different as the Tigers are ready for a new season with new opportunities. LSU brings back five starters and a talented group of newcomers itching to make an instant impact.
LSU has earned 171 victories, an average of 21.4 wins per season, to go along with seven of the last eight SEC Western Division titles since 2005. The Tigers also are one of 34 programs to appear in six NCAA Tournaments during the previous eight-year stretch.
As in the past, there are a number of questions leading into the season. The Tigers will look to build on a competitive spring season and an effective European Tour over the summer. LSU will hope to turn that momentum into a successful 2013 campaign.
Aug. 30-31 Tiger Classic
BATON ROUGE – One of the most intriguing situations heading into the 2013 season is LSU’s pin hitters. The Tigers will have a talented group ready to take charge following the graduation of two-time All-SEC selection and 1,000-kill club member Madie Jones.
LSU doesn’t have a shortage of candidates as junior Helen Boyle and sophomore Cati Leak are joined by sophomore Emily Ehrle, sophomore Katie Lindelow and freshmen Katarina Raicevic. The quintet possesses a multitude of ways to score points for the Tigers.
Boyle has made 53 starts as a six-rotation player on the perimeter and has averaged a balanced 2.35 kills to go along with 2.83 digs per set over her first two seasons. In SEC play last season, Boyle upped those marks to 3.04 kills and 2.99 digs per set. She missed LSU’s final three matches in 2012 due to injury.
Leak was thrown into the fire right away and started 27 matches mostly as a six-rotation option during her freshmen campaign. She chipped in 1.62 kills, 2.41 digs and 0.70 blocks per set. LSU won two of its three matches when Leak slapped double digit kills last season.
“All of our hitters have a tremendous amount of talent, and we feel great about the progress that they continue to make,” Flory said. “Helen has worked extremely hard to improve her arsenal of shots, and we look forward to her returning to our lineup when she’s fully healthy. I’ve always believed that the greatest amount of progress for an outside hitter comes between your freshman and sophomore years because you understand the task better. Cati is a humble and driven player that understands she will have to do more to help the team succeed.”
Transferring to LSU from Texas Tech, Ehrle saw action in 30 matches and paced the Red Raiders with 241 kills last season. She was named to the AVCA All-American Watch List prior to her senior season at Crowley High School in Texas.
Lindelow will look to find her rhythm after she missed LSU’s last 13 matches of the 2012 season due to injury. She had a prolific prep career en route to the 2010 Louisiana Gatorade Player of the Year award and also could see time strictly on the back row if needed.
Raicevic secured the “Best Player” award of Belgrade and won a combined five champions between the high school and club levels in her native Serbia. She also was a member of the Serbian National Team that won a bronze medal at the 2011 Girls’ Youth World Championships.
“As attackers, it’s not how big or how powerful you are, it’s about how great can you play the game,” Flory said. “Emily, Katie and Katarina have great arms, and we look forward to seeing them continue to develop their attacking toolboxes. They will rise to any challenge that are presented and will push for playing time right away.”
LSU will square off with Texas-San Antonio (Aug. 30 – 7 p.m.), UC Davis (Aug. 31 – 10 a.m.) and San Diego State (Aug. 31 – 7:30 p.m.) for the season-opening Tiger Classic at the Maravich Center. Admission is free courtesy of The Advocate’s “Geaux Free” program.
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 @lsuvb on Instagram.