Volleyball Takes on SEC Leader, No. 11 Missouri

LSU's Briana Holman
LSU's Briana Holman
Steve Franz
Matt Dunaway
Matt Dunaway

BATON ROUGE – The LSU volleyball team returns home to face SEC frontrunner and No. 11 Missouri for a Friday evening matchup at the Maravich Center.

First serve is on-tap for 7 p.m. with live video and live stats available for Geaux Zone subscribers at www.LSUsports.net/live.

Admission to all 2013 home matches is free compliments of the Advocate's “Geaux Free” program. It’s “Student Point Night” and “Team Photo Night” where fans will have an opportunity to take their photo with the team following the match.

Last time out, the Tigers (13-5, 3-3 SEC) dropped a pair of four-set road decisions to Auburn and Alabama. LSU heads into the weekend’s action in seventh place in the SEC standings and is looking for its first win over Missouri as an SEC rival. 

Missouri (23-0, 7-0 SEC) is one of two remaining undefeated teams in the nation and is coming off the program’s first Top 5 victory over then No. 2 Florida which enabled the Tigers to move into the SEC’s top spot. Molly Kreklow, the reigning SEC and AVCA Player of the Week, has handed out 12.43 assists per set which ranks second nationally. The Tigers have four hitters with over 2.00 kills per set and have produced a NCAA-leading .374 team hitting percentage. Lisa Henning has powered home 4.28 kills per set, second-most in the SEC whereas Whitney Little’s .508 hitting percentage is second in the nation.

“Missouri has been playing the entire season with a point to prove,” head coach Fran Flory said. “They’ve done it in every set of every match. They are a team that you have to affect in so many ways to try to get them out of system. We are going to have to not be predictable, and we are going to have to hit different tempos offensively. Not much affects them, and you have to credit Molly Kreklow with that.  She does such a great job of running their offense. Even if the pass is an out-of-system, she creates an in-system offensive play out of that. There are not many setters in the country that can do that. We have a nice game plan put together, but we’ll see if we can execute on our side. The ultimate test is can we do what we need to do on our side first.” 

LSU’s offense was held well below its season averages with 11.62 kills per set on a .195 hitting percentage last weekend during the Auburn and Alabama matches. The Tigers have won 12 of 13 matches this season when connecting for a .200-plus hitting clip.

Cati Leak has tallied a team-leading 3.35 kills per set which are 11th in the SEC rankings. She has powered home 10-plus kills in three of her last five outings and her 16 kills versus Alabama was a season’s best for a SEC match.

Briana Holman has started all 18 matches during her freshman campaign. She has produced 3.12 kills per set and will look to bounce back from a season-low .062 hitting ratio on four kills against Alabama. Holman is one of only six players in program history to collect over 100 blocks as a freshmen and her 1.57 per set average holds the top spot on the SEC leaderboard.

Desiree Elliott heads into the Missouri match six kills away from moving past former teammate Michele Williams (2008-11) for 17th place on LSU’s all-time list. Since returning to middle blocker, Elliott has notched 2.40 kills and 0.75 per set over her last five outings.

Katie Lindelow has amassed double-doubles in three of her last five appearances, most recently with an 11-kill, 17-dig effort against Alabama. She has smacked a team-high 24 aces and her 0.33 per set average is seventh among the SEC leaders.

Helen Boyle (1.91), Emily Ehrle (1.91), Khourtni Fears (1.83), Katarina Raivevic (1.35) and Madi Mahaffey (1.03) have each garnered over a kill per set for LSU. Over her last five outings, Mahaffey has turned in 19 kills on a .417 hitting percentage to go along with 14 blocks. Her 1.03 stuffs per set also are ninth in the SEC.

Haley Smith has come away with 10-plus digs in 13 of her 14 starts at the libero position, the lone exception was a five-scoop effort at Auburn on Oct. 18. Her 3.73 digs per set is good enough for 10th place on the SEC list.

LSU’s back row will look to regroup after the Tigers converted on 55 percent of their sideout attempts last weekend.

“Part of the problem recently is our ball control has not been very good,” Flory said. “Our serving and passing, the two basic fundamentals of volleyball, we did a very poor job with both of those areas last weekend. Not real typical for an LSU team and certainly not typical for a team that I coach because that’s a huge emphasis on what we do and how we recruit. It’s a confidence thing. We have to get back and understand that we control that first ball. We need to control that right tempo and right rhythm. I think if we can get in system, we will be a whole lot more balanced. Malorie’s much more prepared, we’ve got a few new wrinkles we are going to add in there and a few new options because we are just a little too predictable.  But aside from that, we’ve been real imbalanced with either our defense is pretty good or our offense is pretty good.”

LSU has earned 184 victories sparked by five 20-win seasons 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.

The Missouri match marks the third of six “Attend & Win” matches where one fan will take home an iPad mini. To be eligible for the “Attend & Win” prizes, fans must stay through the entire match.

The “Friday Night Meal Deal” returns as LSU concessions will provide a special menu for only $7 per meal beginning at 6 p.m. inside the Courtside Club located at the Northwest entrance. To reserve a “Meal Deal” in advance, email promotions@lsu.edu with the quantity of meals and names. The Missouri match menu consists of Chicken Florentine with angel hair pasta and a vegetable medley.

Desiree Elliott will continue LSU’s legacy of serving the community. She is teaming up with St. Vincent de Paul and Bishop Ott Shelter Program for her season-long senior class philanthropy project. The Tigers will be collecting items ranging from children’s clothes and shoes along with baby supplies and toys at every home match as part of the “Geaux Kids” initiative. Fans will be able to donate items inside the “Geaux Kids” boxes located at the Tiger Fan Zone

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.





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