LEXINGTON, Ky. - Sam Delahoussaye and Madie Jones became the newest members of LSU volleyball's 1,000 career dig and 1,000 career kill clubs but the Tigers were dealt a 3-0 setback by Kentucky [25-19, 25-19, 25-22] Sunday in-front of 1,244 fans at Memorial Coliseum.
For Delahoussaye, she was the 13th player in program history to eclipse the feat and reached the milestone during the second set. She finished with nine scoops for the match.
Jones followed with her 1,000 career kill in set three and is the 19th player in LSU history to accomplish the feat. She tallied a team-high 11 kills on a .296 hitting percentage and extended her run to 11 straight matches with double figure spikes.
"There's no doubt that Sam and Madie have earned those career milestones," head coach Fran Flory said. "The fact that Sam was able to stand back there, withstand the offense that was coming at her and reach 1,000 digs today is a nice tribute to her. For Madie, she had two big blockers in-front of her the entire match. I thought she played very well and was very balanced for us. We just didn't create enough swings for her to be a true difference maker in the match."
LSU (9-12, 5-7 SEC) had its season's best two-match winning streak come to a close. The Tigers ran a 6-2 offensive system and were limited to a .160 attack percentage for the match. Jackie Gerig came away with 16 assists and a career-high eight digs, while Malorie Pardo finished with 10 helpers.
Desiree Elliott belted nine kills on 16 swings with only two errors en route to a .438 hitting ratio, while Helen Boyle totaled seven kills and two digs for the Tigers. It marked the first time that Boyle and Elliott failed to reach double digit kills since LSU's SEC opener at Alabama back on September 14.
Meghan Mannari corralled a team-high 13 digs and moved to within 30 scoops of passing Lisa Smith (1984-87) for 10th place on LSU's all-time list.
Kentucky (13-8, 7-4 SEC), who was receiving votes in the AVCA Top 25, was sparked by Christine Hartmann. The reigning SEC Offensive Player of the Week charted 40 assists and totaled 13 digs. She fueled the Wildcats to 50 kills and an effective .287 hitting percentage.
Whitney Billings produced a balanced effort for the Wildcats. She cranked a match-high 16 kills on an impressive .409 hitting clip to go along with 14 digs and five blocks. Lauren O'Conner chipped in 14 kills and two blocks.
UK's back row unit was solid and converted on 68 percent of its sideout attempts. Jackie Napper secured 13 digs whereas Stephanie Klefot and Jessi Greenberg totaled seven and six scoops, respectively.
"Give credit to Kentucky because they played awfully well on their home court. We couldn't break their rhythm, and we couldn't get into our own rhythm. Defensively, we didn't have an answer for Billings. We couldn't get in-front of her quick enough. She also did a great job of hitting high and over the top of our blockers. I believe that Billings is the key to their team. When she's going, Kentucky is extremely difficult to defend."
The first set featured five ties and a pair of lead changes in the opening moments. LSU grabbed a 9-8 edge on a Jones kill, but Kentucky fired back with 10 of the next 12 points en route to an 18-11 advantage. The Wildcats used three O'Conner kills and three blocks to turn the tables. LSU got as close as 20-17, but Kentucky answered with consecutive O'Conner spikes to complete the 25-19 win.
The two teams split the first 14 points of set two. Kentucky pieced together a 7-2 spurt enabled by three LSU hitting miscues coupled with two Billings kills to surge ahead by a 14-9 margin. The Tigers cut the deficit down to two points on a pair of occasions, the latest at 18-16 after a Jones kill. Billings ripped three of the next four points, and LSU was forced into two more attacking errors which allowed Kentucky to tuck away the 25-18 victory.
LSU was poised to extend the match during the third set. Boyle powered home three quick kills to give the Tigers a 5-2 lead. LSU continued to push points and grabbed a 16-9 edge on an Elliott transition kill. Kentucky responded with three straight points closed out by an O'Conner ace to make it 16-12. Down 20-16, the Wildcats completed their comeback with seven consecutive tallies. Four different players garnered kills and Klefot slapped an ace. The Tigers fended off a match point, but an O'Conner sideout spike vaulted UK into the winner's circle, 25-22.
"Two things happened in the match that we weren't able to overcome," Flory said. "First, we lost the serve-pass battle. Our first touch passing wise was all over the place in regards to tempo and location. When that happens, we're not very adaptable within our offense. The other side of it was we didn't serve tough enough to take Kentucky out of system."
LSU returns home Friday to face SEC Western Division frontrunner Texas A&M, who is receiving votes in the AVCA Top 25. First serve is scheduled for 7 p.m. inside the Maravich Center, and the match will be carried by Cox Sports Television.
Admission to all 2012 home matches at the Maravich Center is free compliments of the Advocate's "Geaux Free" program. At every home match, LSU will be collecting pet supplies at the fan zone as part of its "PAWS in the PMAC" campaign to benefit the Capital Area Animal Welfare Society.
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