LSU's Desiree Elliott
Photo by:Chris Parent, LSU Athletics Student Photographer
Volleyball Takes Four-Set Win Over UC Davis
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Published: August 31, 2013, 06:45 PM (CT)
Updated: September 01, 2013, 11:04 AM (CT)
by Matt Dunaway, Associate SID

BATON ROUGE – Malorie Pardo dished out a career-high 68 assists to go along with 13 digs and sparked Cati Leak and Desiree Elliott to career performances as the LSU volleyball team picked up a four-set victory over UC Davis [29-31, 25-19, 27-25, 25-23] Saturday to open day two of the Tiger Classic at the Maravich Center.

The Tigers have turned in a winning record on opening weekend during 13 of the last 14 seasons since 2000 under head coach Fran Flory. It was the first all-time meeting between LSU (2-0) and UC Davis (0-2) in volleyball. 

“This was a really difficult match to play because UC Davis is a great ball control team,” head coach Fran Flory said. “They have some great, quirky hitters and their hitters have great shot selections so they’re going to hit the most difficult shot for us to defend almost every single time. That really frustrated the defensive side of our team. I was really proud of our offense and our efficiency, and obviously Cati (Leak) and Desiree (Elliott) – they did an amazing job.”

Leak cranked a career-best 31 kills on 62 swings and her .452 hitting percentage was her third-highest career output. The last time a LSU player amassed 30 kills in a match was Carmis Frankis, who buried 30 kills during a four-set loss to South Carolina on Oct. 23, 1998.

“We don’t want to have to rely on her (Leak) that much, but thank goodness we could in this match,” Flory said. “The key stat on 62 swings was she has a .500 kill percentage. To only have three errors on 62 swings is an amazing accomplishment as well in her first true season hitting outside against a really difficult team to score on. I’m really proud of the variety of shots she hit and the choice of shots in certain situations. She’s going to mature into a great, great player for us.”

“Cati comes out onto the floor confident,” Elliott said. “We all rely on her to kill the ball. She’s doing amazing things for our team for sure, and we really look up to her.”

Elliott provided 22 kills on a .487 hitting ratio and reeled in 12 digs to compile her first career double dip. The 22 kills equaled her second-highest career total and enabled her to move past former All-American Lauren DeGIrolamo for 19th place on LSU’s all-time list. Emily Ehrle and Madi Mahaffey tallied six kills apiece, while Mahaffey added four blocks.

LSU’s back row unit was led by Katie Lindelow’s career-high 28 digs, and the Tigers came away with a solid 65 percent sideout efficiency. Laura Whalen recorded 10 digs and was a perfect 26-for-26 on her reception attempts.

Kaylin Squyres (24 kills, 10 digs) and Devon Damelio (15 kills, 16 digs) notched double-doubles to lead UC Davis.

“Katie is just learning to play that role,” Flory said. “She doesn’t know just how to do that yet. Katie’s a hitter, she has a hitter mentality and a libero position is a position of finesse. It’s going to take a few matches to get into that position. I’m not going to take her out of the possibility of hitting some for us during the season. The goal for the weekend is to keep her in the libero spot and give some other people the chance to mature and gain experience passing. I thought she managed passing and set tempo really well which is why she’s wearing that different colored jersey.”

The opening stanza featured 18 ties and six lead changes as both team came out firing on all cylinders and connected for over a .300 hitting percentage. Neither team led by more than two points during the frame. Trailing 24-22, LSU pieced together Elliott and Pardo kills sandwiched between an UC Davis hitting miscue to grab a 25-24 edge. The Aggies rode the right arm of Squires to three kills and converted on their seventh set point to secure the 31-29 win.

LSU fired back and led wire-to-wire in set two to even the match. The Tigers used consecutive Whalen aces to go along with two Elliott kills and two Elliott blocks to build a 17-8 advantage. UC Davis would get as close as 23-19. After a LSU timeout, Mahaffey and Elliott responded with back-to-back kills to tuck away the 25-19 victory.

Once again, the Tigers got an early momentum lift as Elliott and Leak teamed for six quick kills to vault LSU to a 7-2 edge during the third set. UC Davis chipped away and used a 5-1 run late in the frame to turn a 23-20 deficit into a 25-24 advantage. The Tigers regrouped with kills from Leak, Elliott and Leak in succession to close out the 27-25 comeback win. The Elliott-Leak duo combined for 16 of LSU’s 20 kills in the frame.

The Tigers scored six of the first seven points to begin set four capped by a Lindelow ace. LSU stayed ahead throughout the stanza, but UC Davis got back to within a single point four different times with the latest being at 24-23. However, an Aggie service error put the Purple and Gold into the win column. 

“The talk at halftime from Coach (Flory) helped,” Leak said. “It helped us realize we do need to stay as a team throughout the entire match. Not that we don’t mean to not do that, but she helped us stay reminded of that. Doing that kept their runs at a low.”

LSU wraps up the Tiger Classic later tonight against 2012 NCAA Tournament participant San Diego State. First serve is slated for 7:30 p.m. from the Maravich Center. Live video and live stats are available for Geaux Zone subscribers at www.LSUsports.net/live.

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.

Admission to all 2013 home matches at the Maravich Center are free compliments of the Advocate's "Geaux Free" program.

Volleyball Postmatch Quotes – August 31, 2013
LSU vs. UC Davis

HEAD COACH FRAN FLORY

On the win over UC Davis …
“This was a really difficult match to play because UC Davis is a great ball control team. They have some great, quirky hitters and their hitters have great shot selections so they’re going to hit the most difficult shot for us to defend almost every single time. That really frustrated the defensive side of our team. I was really proud of our offense and our efficiency, and obviously Cati (Leak) and Desiree (Elliott) – they did an amazing job.”

On Cati Leak’s 31 kills…
“We don’t want to have to rely on her, but thank goodness we could in this match. The key stat on 62 swings was she has a .500 kill percentage. To only have three errors on 62 swings is an amazing accomplishment as well in her first true season hitting outside against a really difficult team to score on. I’m really proud of the variety of shots she hit and the choice of shots in certain situations. She’s going to mature into a great, great player for us.”

On Desiree Elliott’s all-around effort …
“We gave Desi more opportunities in the middle. Yesterday, we played her strictly on the right side trying to get experience for Khourtni (Fears) and Briana (Holman) in the middle. This morning, I felt like we needed a different matchup against this team. That’s the value of having depth and versatility in every position. We can match-up against teams, and I thought the match-up was in our favor. I thought we did a nice job of managing most of the match-ups we had across the net from each other. Desi is still so good when we run her fast. We’re trying to teach her to hit a little higher and be a little better out of system player. That’s what we had her do last night. Today, we were in system more often, and that’s going to lend more opportunities to Desi.

On Katie Lindelow’s second match playing libero….
“Katie is just learning to play that role. She doesn’t know just how to do that yet. Katie’s a hitter, she has a hitter mentality and a libero position is a position of finesse and a flow type of position. It’s going to take a few matches to get into that position. I’m not going to take her out of the possibility of hitting some for us during the season. Katie is going to hit outside when we need that person out there. The goal for the weekend is to keep her in the libero spot and give some other people the chance to mature and gain experience passing. I thought she managed passing and set tempo really well which is why she’s wearing that different colored jersey.

On tonight’s matchup with San Diego State…
“They’re a completely different team from the two teams we have played in this tournament. Quite frankly, I think they may be a team we’re matched up better against. They play a little higher and a little different style. The first two matches ended up being against teams we traditionally struggle with and have a hard time matching with ball control. Tonight’s match will be different than that. I anticipate this to be a very physical, played above the net type of match. Summer Nash is very physical on the outside and very difficult to defend. Everyone in this tournament has one big gun on the outside, and she’s their gun. We’ll have to do a great job of containing her. We won’t stop her. We’ll have to contain her and limit her touches.”

OUTSIDE HITTER CATI LEAK

On her performance …
“During all preseason camp, spring and the Europe trip, we worked on being efficient. We worked on keeping the ball in play. If you don’t have the swing, don’t take it. I’d like to credit Malorie (Pardo) – her being able to hold their block in the middle was a key to my success. Also, the defense and passing was another key to be able to create some open swings for me.”

On holding off UC Davis runs in the fourth set…
“The talk at halftime from Coach (Flory) helped. It helped us realize we do need to stay as a team throughout the entire match. Not that we don’t mean to not do that, but she helped us stay reminded of that. Doing that kept their runs at a low.”

On what LSU needs to do to finish weekend 3-0…
“We need to control our side, stay efficient and keep the tempo going so Malorie (Pardo) can be put in great situations like she has been doing. We need to keep the team attitude. If we do that, we should be able to be successful.”

MIDDLE BLOCKER DESIREE ELLIOTT

On LSU grinding out a tough win…
“It’s the first tournament of the season so we were coming out a little nervous at time. Coach (Flory) made a good point at halftime: as long as we stay together and focus as a group and focus on the next point, we can come out with a win. The other team’s really talented, but we prepared for this. If we just stay together and work on our side, we’d get it done.

On first career double and being a complete player…
“Coach (Flory) told me after my sophomore year, [the team] would need me to play all around so I worked really hard with defense. If the team needs me to play back row, I can play back row. If the team needs me to play right side or middle, I can go there. Whatever the team needs, I’ll be there for them.”

On Cati’s Leak’s improvement…
“She comes out onto the floor confident. We all rely on her to kill the ball. She’s doing amazing things for our team for sure, and we really look up to her.”

On the keys to tonight’s match with San Diego State …
“I think most of the nerves are out by now. If we focus on our togetherness, I think tonight will be a good match for us. I think they’re a great team. They’re really fast and have great ball control. But if we stay focused on our side, we can get the job done.”

 

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