WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – The LSU volleyball team pushed the eighth-ranked Purdue Boilermakers to the limit in the finale of the 2014 Mortar Board Premier on Saturday night, but the Tigers would be unable to upset the home side, falling in straight sets, 25-17, 34-32, 25-22, Saturday night at Holloway Gymnasium.
After struggling to find anything to work in the first set, LSU (1-2) was able to put a scare into the opposition in the final two as the Tigers hit .237 in the second and match-high for either side .312 in the final to make a go of it late. In a sweltering gym, LSU also finished with nine blocks to Purdue’s (3-0) five.
“I was proud of the fact that this team could have thrown in the towel, but continued to fight in some pretty tough conditions,” head coach Fran Flory said. “We saw growth in each of the three matches we had, and now we know what we have to work on going into this open week.”
Briana Holman, who was named to the all-tournament team, led LSU with 14 kills and .387 average to go along with her game-leading nine blocks. The sophomore had no less than four kills in the three sets, driving home six in the second and third sets.
Cati Leak finished second on the team with 10 kills, while Katie Lindelow nearly earned a double-double with nine kills and nine digs and adding three blocks. Malorie Pardo served up 35 assists and had eight digs, while Haley Smith led the team with 10 total digs.
Purdue didn’t drop a set the entire weekend, keeping a clean sheet on Saturday night thanks to hitting no less than .250 in any set with at least 15 or more kills, led by Annie Drews and her game-high 19. The Boilermakers hit .273 as a group, with Val Nichol dishing out 40 assists and digging up 12 shots for a double-double, while Amanda Neill had 18 digs.
As a team, Purdue had 58 digs to LSU’s 43, while going 46-of-72 (63 percent) on sideout chances, while the Tigers were 45-of-83 (54 percent).
After LSU went and got the first point of the match on a Holman kill, the Boilermakers went on a 5-0 run to storm ahead with the home crowd beginning to get into the match. As LSU began to string together point clusters, the Tigers would have to call their first timeout with Purdue up 14-9. The short break was enough to put some life back into the team as consecutive Holman kills and two Boiler attack errors pulled LSU within one at 14-13.
However, another four-point swing by Purdue made it a five-point deficit as LSU was only able to muster four more points in the set to drop the first 25-17.
The thrilling second set really came to life after the Tigers called a timeout when they were down 10-6. Right out of the timeout, LSU went on to outscore Purdue 6-1 to take a 12-11 lead. After having just one tie up until that point, the breaks came completely off and featured 19 ties and 10 lead changes throughout the rest of the extra-point affair.
Purdue took a brief lead up 19-18, but Leak earned one of her six kills of the set, followed by one of Lindelow’s four to put LSU back up 20-19 and force a Purdue timeout. Still, Purdue was able to get to set point first leading 24-22, but the Tigers never-say-die attitude came back to life and rattled off three straight points thanks to Boilermaker unforced errors to get to set point themselves. The two teams didn’t flinch going back-and-forth between ties and lead changes, but with the set tied at 32, back-to-back kills by Purdue put the Boilermakers up two sets to none.
The third set seemed to be all Purdue as the Boilermakers forced LSU to call both of its timeouts within the first 28 points of the set. However, the Tigers refused to quit, hitting a blistering .312 in the set, fending off match point with three-straight points with two blocks and an unforced error by the Boilermakers to force a timeout with LSU within two points. However, LSU was unable to keep the momentum going, as Purdue got the final point on a kill to end the match.
LSU will we be back in action in two weeks, taking part in the Four Points by Sheraton Seminole Invitational, hosted by Florida State.
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