Volleyball Looks for Weekend Sweep at Kentucky
LEXINGTON, Ky. - The LSU volleyball team looks to extend its two-match winning streak and pick up its first SEC weekend sweep of the season as the Tigers meet Kentucky Sunday at Memorial Coliseum.
First serve is scheduled for 12:30 p.m., and a free audio webcast for Sunday's match is available at www.LSUsports.net/live.
Earlier this season, LSU (9-11, 5-6 SEC) battled to a five-set comeback win over Kentucky (12-8, 6-4 SEC) at the Maravich Center. Helen Boyle powered home 18 kills to equal a career-best, while Malorie Pardo handed out 60 assists and fueled the Tigers to 12 kills on a blistering .367 hitting percentage during the deciding frame.
The Wildcats, who are receiving votes in the latest edition of the AVCA Top 25, hold an all-time 32-23 series advantage which includes win in seven of the last nine meetings. LSU is hoping to gain its first season sweep of UK since 2006 whereas the Wildcats are looking to bounce back from a 3-0 Friday setback to Arkansas.
Christine Hartmann, the reigning SEC Offensive Player of the Week, quarterbacks the Kentucky attack. Five different players have reached 100 kills for the season as Hartman has dished out 10.50 assists per set. Ashley Frazier and Whitney Billings pave the way and are among the SEC's Top 20 with 2.89 kills per set apiece. Defensively, the Wildcats are spearheaded by Stephanie Klefot, the two-time defending SEC Libero of the Year. She has collected 3.92 digs per set to rank ninth in the SEC.
"Kentucky is an excellent program," head coach Fran Flory said. "It's a different type of match and a different challenge than last night's match at Auburn. We have a nice game plan put together already. Certainly, we know Kentucky will be ready for us. They've done a nice job of regrouping after our match earlier this season. We're going to have to be more efficient than we were during the Auburn match if we want to be successful against a team like Kentucky."
Last time out, LSU claimed a 3-1 victory over Auburn. Boyle buried a team-leading 14 kills and added 10 digs en route to her fifth consecutive double-double. The last time a LSU player ran together five straight double dips was Kyna Washington during the 2007 season.
Boyle was joined by Desiree Elliott and Madie Jones in double figure kills. The trio has accomplished that feat in 10 consecutive matches going back to September 16. Jones heads into Sunday's contest 10 spikes away from becoming the 19th player in program history to secure 1,000 career kills.
The Boyle-Elliott-Jones triple threat has posted 77.6 percent of LSU's kills during its 11 SEC matches on the season. All three players also are ranked inside the SEC's Top 15 in kills per set average.
Jackie Gerig was inserted into Friday's match at Auburn halfway during the second set. She handed out 22 assists to go along with five digs and three kills off the bench.
On the back row, Meghan Mannari is coming off a memorable 40-dig performance at Auburn. The effort was the second-highest total in program history for a single match only behind former All-American Elena Martinez's 43 digs at Alabama in 2007. Mannari has captured 4.90 digs per set and returned to the SEC rankings in second place for the first time since missing six matches due to injury.
Sam Delahoussaye had her career-long, 11-match run with 10 or more digs come to close during the Auburn match. She comes into Sunday's match eight scoops from being the 13th member of LSU's 1,000 career digs club.
Fans also can follow Sunday's match via the program's social media outlets at www.Facebook.com/lsuvolleyball along with @LSUvolleyball and @LSUCoachFran on Twitter.
Dating back to the 2005 season, LSU has racked up a 168-66 record and is one of 25 programs nationally to secure bids to six of the last seven NCAA Tournaments.
The Tigers have collected seven consecutive SEC Western championships highlighted by the overall league championship in 2009. It's the second longest streak in SEC history, only behind Florida's 14-year run on top of the SEC's Eastern Division from 1995-2008.