LSU's Malorie Pardo (14)
Photo by:Chris Parent, LSU Athletics Student Photographer
Volleyball Sweeps South Carolina
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Published: October 07, 2012, 04:48 PM (CT)
by Matt Dunaway, Associate SID

BATON ROUGE - Malorie Pardo handed out 46 assists and sparked the LSU volleyball team to a season's best .359 team hitting percentage as the Tigers dismissed South Carolina [29-27, 25-23, 25-12] Sunday at the Maravich Center.

LSU (7-10, 3-5 SEC) put its two-match losing skid in the rear view mirror and avenged a five-set loss to South Carolina (13-6, 2-6 SEC) from earlier this season.

"It was key that we had to fight through for this win," head coach Fran Flory said. "The confidence level that comes from this type of win can certainly be a jumpstart. We decided this was a restart to the season after the Georgia match. We acted like this was the first match of our season and we're going to see what we can accomplish. We still feel like we have a lot to accomplish in this season."

Offensively, the trio of Helen Boyle, Desiree Elliott and Madie Jones combined for 44 of LSU's 53 kills for the match. The 46 helpers for Pardo was a SEC-best during a three-set match in conference play this season.

Jones cranked 15 kills on 29 errorless swings en route a .517 hitting clip, while Elliott fired in 14 spikes on a crisp .407 attacking ratio and added a match-leading six blocks. Boyle tacked on 15 kills and 13 digs to secure her fifth double-double in her last six outings. Cati Leak made the most of her opportunities and powered home five kills on 11 swings for a .455 hitting percentage. She also collected 14 digs. 

"I think that we redefined ourselves," Flory said. "We did a better job during the latter part of this week and figured out how to use our personnel a little better. The balance we had with Cati Leak was a little more efficient even though she had a little less swings. She was involved in the offense which provided open opportunities for our big three of Helen Boyle, Desiree Elliott and Madie Jones."

LSU's back row defense racked up 64-46 advantage in digs and had four players garner double figure scoops. Meghan Mannari returned to the libero role and sprawled out for a match-high 18 digs, while Sam Delahoussaye chipped in 13 scoops.

South Carolina was led by Juliette Thévenin's 18 kills and Taylor Bruns' 34 assists. Thévenin and Paige Wheeler corralled 12 digs apiece, while Bethanie Thomas popped 10 kills for the Gamecocks.

"I think the two days off on Thursday and Friday really helped us physically and mentally because we were tired," Mannari said. "We just needed a break. Those two days off gave us a momentum change and a mentality change. It gave us time to gain our intensity back. We wanted to come on the court and restart a whole new season with today's match. I think we did a good job of doing just that."

The first set featured 20 ties and 12 lead changes with neither going ahead by more than a two-point margin. South Carolina held the first two set point chances at 24-23 and 25-24. However, the Tigers used kills from Pardo and Jones to draw even. LSU fought off a third set point down 27-26 on Jones' seventh spike of the stanza. Thévenin followed with a USC hitting error and Boyle delivered the deciding kill to lift LSU to the 29-27 dramatic victory.

South Carolina was poised to even the match at a set apiece. The Gamecocks built a 17-10 advantage after a Bruins kills. However, LSU ripped off 12 of the next 13 points to turn the tables and snatch a 22-18 lead. Elliott powered home four of her seven kills in the set, while Boyle added three kills to ignite the run. Down 23-19, South Carolina pieced together a final flurry with three Thévenin kills coupled with a Pardo ball handling error to knot the tally at 23-23. LSU regrouped and Jones provided back-to-back kills to vault the Tigers to the 25-23 comeback win.

LSU used that momentum and raced out to a 15-5 lead to start the third set. The Tigers never looked back and led wire-to-wire. Boyle powered home three consecutive kills, while Elliott banged home the deciding spike during the 25-12 rout. LSU also converted on 9-of-13 in the sideout department.

"That [second] set was a set of runs," Flory said. "We seized that momentum and maintained it. The good thing for us, though, is that when we take those opportunities, we've given them away with a serving error and killed our own runs. Once you get a team on their heels and keep applying pressure, it's awfully hard for them to make a play against you."

For the second straight week, LSU will be showcased on ESPNU's Wednesday Night Volleyball when the Tigers meet preseason SEC favorite Tennessee. First serve is slated for 7 p.m., and live stats will be available inside the Geaux Zone on LSUsports.net/live.

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.

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.

Volleyball Postmatch Quotes
LSU vs. South Carolina - October 7, 2012

HEAD COACH FRAN FLORY

On the three-set victory...
"I think that we redefined ourselves. We did a better job during the latter part of this week and figured out how to use our personnel a little better. The balance we had with Cati Leak was a little more efficient even though she had a little less swings. She was involved in the offense which provided open opportunities for our big three of Helen Boyle, Desiree Elliott and Madie Jones."

On hitting over 300 as a team...
"Malorie did a great job and recommitted this week. She was getting frustrated with overcommitting to various aspects of the game. I think we finally found how to help her not get frustrated. Our passers did a great job of creating as well. Putting those two aspects together means success for us."

On the team's balanced offense ...
"Madie has carried a huge offense load for us and does a great job. Certainly, Desiree has to be our go to middle. She's so fast and dynamic. Everyone knows she's able to get the ball, but she's still able to outrun teams because she's so smart offensively. That's definitely the improvement she's made in the last few matches. The emergence of Helen has been the salvation of our offense with being able to put balls away and being efficient. Helen has grown and grown as a player. Her level and her drive has become someone who can truly carry a load in the SEC has been key to our season."

On the importance of this win ...
"It was key that we had to fight through for this win. The confidence level that comes from this type of win can certainly be a jumpstart. We decided this was a restart to the season after the Georgia match last Wednesday. We acted like this was the first match of our season and were going to see what we can accomplish. We still feel like we have a lot to accomplish in this season."

On the second set comeback ...
"That set was a set of runs. We seized that momentum and maintained it. The good thing for us, though, is that when we take those opportunities, we've given them away with a serving error and killed our own runs. Once you get a team on their heels and keep applying pressure, it's awfully hard for them to make a play against you."

On Meghan Mannari returning to libero ...
"Last time when we played South Carolina, we dug very few balls in left back. I didn't really want to put Meghan in the libero spot this early because she physically needs a little more time. It was an advantage having a match on Wednesday followed by Sunday instead of Friday then Sunday. We will probably switch back and forth between Meghan and Sam depending on who is across the net from us."

On Wednesday's match with Tennessee ...
"Every match with Tennessee is a war. Our players and their player enjoy that match, it's always a heated battle. Tennessee is very physical. They are as quick, dynamic and athletic team as any other team in the SEC. We're going to have to play with a different level of intensity. I'm proud of our team for playing on an even level and never backing down today. If we can continue to do that, we're going to keep ourselves in a lot of matches."

LIBERO MEGHAN MANNARI

On importance of the team's new mindset ...
"I think the two days off on Thursday and Friday really helped us physically and mentally because we were tired. We just needed a break. Those two days off gave us a momentum change and a mentality change. It gave us time to gain our intensity back. We wanted to come on the court and restart a whole new season with today's match. I think we did a good job of doing just that."

On reevaluation of using strengths...
"We have been trying more to have faith in each other and trust that if we each take care of our own job, we're going to be successful. We know that if we play together and play like a machine, we're going to come out with a lot more wins than losses."

On Wednesday's match with Tennessee ...
"We had a rough start to the season. Winning this match 3-0 gives us a lot more momentum going into Wednesday. We have a lot more confidence than we had in the previous matches we've played in."

SETTER MALORIE PARDO

On the team's mindset from the days off...
"We definitely needed our mental and physical break. We came back today, and we talked more. We did a great job of reconnecting as a unit. That's what we really needed to do. The past is behind us, and we can't change what has already happened during the season. We used today's match as a fresh start to the season."

On Cati Leak's performance ...
"Cati is doing a great job. I figured out how to set her, and that's why we're connecting better. As a freshman, her legs are back. She needed the break which really helped her. It is a long season, especially for a freshman. She came in and has been doing very well. She's recovered after the break, and I couldn't ask anything more from her."

 

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