Coach Fran Flory (center) with seniors Lauren Waclawczyk (left) and Michele Williams (right)
Photo by:Steve Franz, LSU Athletics Staff Photographer
Volleyball Crushes Arkansas in Regular Season Finale
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Published: November 26, 2011, 07:17 PM (CT)
by Matt Dunaway, Associate SID

BATON ROUGE - Malorie Pardo handed out a match-high 40 assists and fueled the LSU volleyball team to a .321 hitting percentage as the Tigers blasted Arkansas [25-13, 25-18, 25-20] in the regular season finale for both teams Saturday at the Maravich Center.

With the victory, LSU (19-11, 12-8 SEC) claimed its seventh straight SEC Western Division title outright. Lauren Waclawczyk and Michele Williams were honored prior to the match. The duo joined LSU's 1,000 career digs and kills club, respectively, earlier in the season.

"We did not want to share the SEC West, and I can't be any prouder of how our kids responded to the challenge of today," head coach Fran Flory said. "We also wanted to send out Lauren [Waclawczyk] and Michele [Williams] in a special way during their last home match. I'm really proud of our total team performance. Those two have done so much for our program. They have done any and everything we have asked in every capacity. They are like my daughters so it was hard to end with them on the court. There's no doubt in my mind that they will go forward and be very successful in whatever they decide to do. They will carry on the legacy of LSU volleyball in the right way."

Madie Jones returned to the starting lineup and pounded home a match-high 12 kills. Williams along with Nicole Willis cranked 11 kills apiece. Both players attacked at over a .400 hitting clip.

Helen Boyle and Desiree Elliott also chipped in six kills each, while Elliott provided a match-best five blocks for the Tigers.

LSU's back row converted on 38-of-51 sideout attempts for a sparkling 71 percent efficiency. Meghan Mannari corralled a match-best 13 digs and finished with 518 scoops for the season to secure the third-highest single-season total in program history. Waclawczyk also reeled in 10 digs for the Tigers.  

Arkansas was limited to 36 kills on a .196 team hitting. Jasmine Norton posted a team-high 12 kills and added eight digs. LSU's defense bottled up Kelli Stipanovich to zero kills on six swings during two sets of action. On the back row, Christa Alvarez notched a team-best 13 digs. 

"I was surprised Kelli Stipanovich did not play better," Flory said. "I felt bad for a senior playing in her last match, you want them to have a little peace and a memory that is positive and not a negative ending. I think she is a great person, a great player and she has meant a lot to their program. I think our gameplan did work. It is fortunate that we were able to come out, execute it and take a key player out of the match for them."

LSU was clicking on all cylinders during the first set. The Tigers buried 17 kills and tallied a match-high .455 hitting ratio. Ahead 17-11, LSU ripped off seven of the final nine points to roll to a 25-13 triumph. Willis cranked five kills on five swings and tacked on two blocks.

The Tigers carried that momentum into set two and jumped out to a 15-9 advantage. LSU continued to push points and expanded its lead to 22-13 on a Willis spike. The Razorbacks pulled back to 22-17, but a Jones-Williams block put the finished touches on a 25-18 win.

Arkansas controlled the tempo for most of the third stanza and grabbed a 13-9 edge as Norton heated up for a trio of kills during the early stages. LSU rallied and caught the Razorbacks at 17-17 on a Sam Delahoussaye ace. Still even at 19-19, the Tigers rode Jones' right-arm to three straight kills coupled with a Mannari ace to surge ahead 23-19. LSU finished off the sweep by a 25-20 margin.

"It was one of our main goals to win the SEC West championship," Waclawczyk said. "It felt so good to be on the court with these girls tonight. They played their hearts out for Michele (Williams) and I for our last home game. We were so composed throughout the whole thing. We were not stressed because in the end we knew we were the better team, and we played like it."

The NCAA Selection Show is slated for Sunday at 5 p.m. and will be televised by ESPNU. LSU will hope to earn an at-large bid for its seventh consecutive NCAA appearance.

Volleyball Postmatch Quotes
LSU vs. Arkansas - November 26, 2011

HEAD COACH FRAN FLORY

On Winning the SEC West Outright ...
"We did not want to share the SEC West, and I can't be any prouder of how our kids responded to the challenge of today. We also wanted to send out Lauren [Waclawczyk] and Michele [Williams] in a special way during their last home match. I'm really proud of our total team performance. At the end of the season, many teams aren't able to muster up the drive and determination that our team played with out there today. What a great statement not only for today, but for the future with these young team."

On Lauren Waclawczyk and Michele Williams ...
"Those two have done so much. They have been great leaders, they have been great team members and they have been great spokespeople for our program. They have done any and everything we have asked in every capacity. They are like my daughters so it was hard to end with them on the court, but I know they are very prepared. There's no doubt in my mind that they will go forward and be very successful in whatever they decide to do. They will carry on the legacy of LSU volleyball in the right way. Certainly, we will always be there for them as well."

On Madie Jones ...
"Madie has been our go to and her missing a couple of matches last weekend was tough on us. However, I think what happened through that whole situation made us better as a team and made us more committed. Today, we came with a point to prove and are certainly glad to be on the winning side of that."

On Nicole Willis ...
"Nicole had a great match. She has been on the cusp all year, and we have been trying to get her to just play. She decided to do what we have been asking her to do and go beyond that. I am really proud of her overall effort. She did an excellent job blocking and a great job terminating offensively. This was a nice step for Nicole to build on today."

On the Defensive Gameplan ...
"I was surprised Kelli Stipanovich did not play better. I think she really struggled. I felt bad for a senior playing in her last match, you want them to have a little peace and a memory that is positive and not a negative ending. I think she is a great person, a great player and she has meant a lot to their program. I think our gameplan did work. It is fortunate that we were able to come out, execute it and take a key player out of the match for them. Great job by our team for following out the gameplan, I can't ask our kids to do any more than that."


Volleyball Postmatch Quotes
LSU vs. Arkansas - November 26, 2011

Middle Blocker Michele Williams

On the Match ...
"We all came together before the match in the locker room and talked about how important it was to win the last game in the PMAC this season. We wanted to make a statement, officially grab the SEC West title solo and not share it. Honestly, today's performance just shows all the team work, hard work, and dedication that we have put into this program. We play for each other and not ourselves."

On Madie Jones ...
"Madie (Jones) bring a lot of strength and power to out team. She pumps us up when we are down. She gets us on a role and helps to scores points for us. It is very important for her to be out there with us."


Defensive Specialist Lauren Waclawczyk

On the SEC West title ...
"I think we worked all season for this. It was one of our main goals to win the SEC West Championship. It feels so good to be on the court with these girls tonight. They played their hearts out for me and Michele (Williams) for our last home game. We were so composed throughout the whole thing. We were not stressed because in the end we knew we were the better team, and we played like it."

On Madie Jones ...
"It is always fun having Madie on the court because she brings so much energy to play, and we really missed her last weekend. She has grown so much over her career, and I am so excited to see what she has in store for herself next year."

On Finishing Strong ...
"We know who we are. Tennessee and Kentucky were tough matches last weekend. They are top teams in the country. We wanted to finish our season well, we did not want to share the SEC West and that is what we did tonight. We proved a point."

 

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