FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - Helen Boyle slapped 15 kills on a career-high .483 hitting percentage, but it wasn't enough as the LSU volleyball team dropped a 3-1 decision to SEC Western Division co-leader Arkansas [25-21, 21-25, 20-25, 15-25] Sunday at Barnhill Arena.
LSU (6-9, 2-4 SEC) was unable to maintain its strong start as the Tigers connected for a .323 hitting clip and racked up six blocks during the opening set. Arkansas (13-3, 4-1 SEC), who is receiving votes in the latest AVCA Top 25 poll, fired back with over a .300 hitting ratio over the final three sets and notched only its second win in the previous 13 meetings versus LSU since the 2005 season.
For Boyle, she has contributed at least 15 kills in four of her last five outings. The Eureka, Mo., native also cranked three aces to match a career-best.
"Helen is playing above the level we've asked her to play at," Flory said. "Thanks goodness because she's carrying a huge load for us. Certainly, I'm proud of her effort. She's been a stabilizing force for us, and every team has to have that type of player. This team needs to stabilize their play in certain areas. We'll be able to take off if we're able to accomplish that."
Malorie Pardo totaled 35 assists, eight digs, four blocks and two kills. She had her run of double-doubles come to a close at four straight matches, while the four stuffs equaled a career-high.
Defensively, Sam Delahoussaye collected a team-leading 11 digs to extend her streak to six consecutive matches with double figure scoops. Haley Smith, the reigning SEC Freshman of the Week, added seven digs. On the front row, Khourtni Fears chipped in six blocks to go along with four kills.
Raymariely Santos guided the Arkansas offense to a .310 hitting percentage for the match. She dished out 47 assists to go along with 14 digs, five kills, four blocks and two aces. Janeliss Torres-Lopez buried 15 kills on 20 swings with only one error en route to a scorching .700 hitting clip. Roslandy Acosta also produced 15 kills, while Amanda Anderson hammered home 14 kills on a .480 hitting ratio and tacked on four blocks for the Razorbacks.
LSU limited Jasmine Norton, the SEC's active kills leader, to nine spikes on 28 swings. The Tigers also forced Norton into 10 hitting miscues to force her into a negative attack percentage. However, Norton corralled a match-high 16 digs and secured two aces. The Razorbacks also received 14 digs and seven assists from Emily Helm.
"We played hard, but we didn't listen well," Flory said. "We knew Torres-Lopez was getting the ball in certain situations, and we just couldn't get in-front of her. Give credit to her for putting away all those balls. I don't know if it's mental fatigue or a lack of focus. The disappointing part was we felt we had a pretty good idea of how they were going to attack us, and we didn't get in-front of them."
Down 12-10 during the first set, LSU ripped off seven of the next eight points to surge ahead by a 17-13 margin. Boyle slammed down a pair of kills, while Elliott garnered kill and ace to highlight the spurt. The Tigers continued their strong play and a Katie Lindelow ace made it 22-17. At 24-18, Arkansas turned away a trio of set points before Jones connected for a cross-court kill to vault LSU to the 25-21 victory.
Set two featured a match-best 11 ties and seven lead changes. Deadlocked at 21-21, the Razorbacks made the critical plays down the stretch and claimed the final four points of the stanza to even the match at one set apiece. A Pardo service error was followed by a Norton kill, an Anderson-Norton block on Jones and a Pardo ball handling error to enable Arkansas to come away with the 25-21 win.
The Razorbacks carried that momentum into the third set. All square at 8-8, Arkansas strung together 11 of the next 16 points to go ahead by a 19-13 margin. LSU committed five costly hitting errors teamed with two kills from Anderson and Torres-Lopez. The Razorbacks picked up three more Torres-Lopez spikes to tuck away the frame, 25-20.
Arkansas saved its best effort for set four and banged home 19 kills on a .425 hitting percentage. The Razorbacks led wire-to-wire and never looked back en route to the 25-15 decision. Acosta tallied five kills, and LSU was held to a match-low .171 hitting clip.
After playing 13 of its first 15 matches away from home, LSU will begin a stretch of seven of its next nine matches inside the friendly confines of the Maravich Center. The Tigers will meet Georgia as part of ESPNU's Wednesday Night Volleyball. First serve is on-tap for 6 p.m. with live stats available inside the Geaux Zone on LSUsports.net/live.
Fans also can follow Wednesday's match via the program's 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 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.
"Having all of those matches at home is a good opportunity for this team to get on a run," Flory said. "There's no doubt that our team is tired after being on the road five of the first six weekends of the season. These are long trips, and I can see the tiredness in our players' eyes. It will be nice for them to have a regular schedule. The fact they won't have to work from behind in every facet of their life will be a positive."