HOUSTON - The LSU volleyball team fought hard, but No. 12 Washington made the key plays late in sets to grind out a 3-0 sweep [25-21, 25-20, 25-22] over the Tigers to cap day one of the relocated Tiger Classic Friday evening at Fox Gym on the Rice University campus.
Washington (5-0) notched a .222 hitting percentage and limited LSU (2-3) to a .098 hitting clip. The Huskies also edged LSU with a 9-7 blocking and 44-42 dig advantages, respectively.
UW's Krista Vansant posted a match-high 13 kills on a .345 hitting percentage. She also added seven digs and two stuffs. Kylin Munoz also chipped in nine kills, while Jenni Nogueras handed out 22 assists and registered eight digs. Amanda Gill garnered three kills and five blocks.
"We just could not quite break Washington," head coach Fran Flory said. "We got awfully close. I was extremely proud of the players and their effort. We fought as hard as we could fight and were a couple of touches away from winning each set. We made a couple of critical errors and let a few easy points stay out on the court. Against a quality Washington team, you have to make those plays. Credit Washington because they had an answer for everything we did. That's the sign of a great team. You can cinque away at their armor, but you can't quite break them."
Cati Leak worked her way to 10 kills, six digs and four blocks to fuel the Tigers. Desiree Elliott cranked nine kills on a .333 hitting ratio, and Madie Jones tacked on seven kills. However, the Elliott-Jones duo was limited to 18 swings apiece. Khourti Fears totaled four kills and five blocks, while Malorie Pardo finished with 27 assists.
"Cati played great and took big time swings," Flory said. "She didn't have the best opportunities to score and got a lot of out-of-system balls with two huge blockers in front of her a majority of the time. I was disappointed that we couldn't get our middles going more, but Washington served extremely tough. What they did worked against us. What we did, we couldn't sustain long enough against them."
Defensively, Meghan Mannari gobbled up a match-best 18 digs for LSU. She moved to within 118 scoops from becoming the 12th player in program history to reach 1,000 career digs. Sam Delahoussaye and Helen Boyle picked up eight digs apiece.
"Meghan played great defense," Flory said. "To have 18 digs against this type of powerful team is absolutely a magnificent effort. Defense is a fight, a tenacity and an attitude. We made some adjustments and extended a lot of the rallies as long as we could tonight."
The two teams traded the first 22 points of the opening set. LSU snatched the momentum with a 5-1 run to secure a 16-12 lead. Leak and Boyle ripped kills, while Fears and Leak teamed for a pair of stuffs. Following a timeout, Washington countered with 5-1 spurt of its own to even the tally at 17-17 capped by consecutive Gabbi Parker spikes. Deadlocked at 20-20, the Huskies reeled off five of the final six points and a Vansant ace secured a 25-21 win.
Washington kept firing on all cylinders and built a 10-3 advantage to start set two. The Huskies made the most of five LSU hitting miscues early in the frame. Down 19-10, the Tigers charged back behind 10 of the next 14 points. Boyle, Pardo and Delahoussaye each smacked aces during the run that brought LSU back to within 23-20. UW received a Munoz kill and block to tuck away the second set by a 25-20 margin.
The third set was a back-and-forth affair that featured 14 ties and six lead changes. Neither team gained more than a three-point advantage. Tied at 20-20, Washington crept ahead on a Vansant kill followed by consecutive Boyle attack errors which forced LSU to use both of its timeouts. Parker and Munoz popped sideouts spikes to enable the Huskies to secure the sweep with the 25-22 victory.
LSU faces its fourth ranked opponent of the young 2012 season and meets No. 7 Purdue to conclude the Tiger Classic. Saturday's first serve is scheduled for 1 p.m. with live stats available inside the Geaux Zone at LSUsports.net.
"There's no doubt that Purdue is going to play tomorrow with a point to prove," Flory said. "This is a key match for both teams. We have to recover a bit after fighting so hard against Washington. Our players have an outstanding fitness level, and we're going to have to be prepared for another hard-fought battle."
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.
Admission to all 2012 home matches at the Maravich Center are free compliments of the Advocate's "Geaux Free" program.