Volleyball Continues Road Swing at No. 16 Florida

LSU's Malorie Pardo
LSU's Malorie Pardo
Chris Parent (@chrisparent)
Matt Dunaway
Matt Dunaway

GAINESVILLE, Fla. - The LSU volleyball team moves into the second leg of its season's long SEC four-match road swing when the Tigers meet conference frontrunner and No. 16 Florida Friday at the Stephen C. O'Connell Center.

First serve is slated for 5 p.m. CT, and a free live audio webcast will be available inside the Geaux Zone at LSUsports.net/live.

LSU (12-14, 8-9 SEC) will look to start a new winning streak after the Tigers had their season-best three-match run come to a close Sunday at Missouri. Florida (21-4, 15-1 SEC) enters Friday's match one win away from clinching a share of the SEC regular season championship. 

"Playing Florida and Tennessee on the road during the same weekend is our toughest trip of the season," head coach Fran Flory said. "There's no doubt it's a tough trip for our young team, but every chance is a new opportunity. Our players are continuing to embrace improvement. There are four or five of our players that are still getting better every day."

Offensively, the Gators have relied heavily on Chloe Mann, Živa Recek, Betsy Smith and Tangerine Wiggs. The quartet has combined for 1,000 kills and 80 percent of the team's total output on the season. Florida's .308 team hitting percentage is second in the nation fueled by Taylor Brauneis' SEC-leading 11.62 assists per set.

Recek, a three-time SEC Freshman of the Week selection, has garnered a 4.01 kills per set to rank fourth in the SEC rankings, while Mann's .441 hitting clip is tops on the SEC leaderboard.

Florida has cranked a conference-best 1.44 aces per set and has three players listed among the SEC's Top 20 in that category. 

"Florida is a tough serving team, and they get the ball on you pretty fast," Flory said. "We've prepared for that during practice, and our team feels ready. The Gators are a quick hit type of team. They're going to score fast, and they're going to score physically. Hopefully, we can extend rallies and play mature, low-error volleyball."

LSU will look to bounce back from a 3-0 setback to Missouri where the Tigers were held to a season-low 27 kills and 27 digs. 

The Tiger back line continues to pace the SEC with an astounding 17.05 digs per set. Meghan Mannari has secured 4.87 scoops per set, second in the SEC. She is 16 digs away from eclipsing Detra Brown (1983-86) for the No. 9 position on the program's all-time list.

Sam Delahoussaye has played in all 118 matches of her career. She has collected 79.6 percent of her digs on the season versus SEC competition. For the season, Delahoussaye has committed only 13 reception errors in her 402 attempts.

Malorie Pardo has started in 51 of her 56 matches at setter over her first two seasons with the Purple and Gold. She has compiled a team-leading 11 double-doubles, all coming versus SEC opponents, good enough for a second place tie in the conference rankings. 

Helen Boyle, Desiree Elliott and Madie Jones have come away with 76.3 percent of LSU's kills in SEC play. One member of the trio has been the leader in kills for the Tigers during 25 of the team's 26 matches. 

Boyle has pieced together 10 or more kills in 12 of her last 16 appearances dating back to September 16. She has averaged 3.04 kills and 2.99 digs per set in SEC play, one of five players to be ranked inside the SEC's Top 20 in both kills and digs per set.

Elliott has popped 3.49 kills per set to rank 10th in the SEC. She has notched over a .300 hitting percentage 11 times with eight of those efforts coming against SEC foes. The Cypress, Texas, native is 35 kills from becoming the 20th player in program history to reach the 1,000 plateau.

Jones has belted a team-high 354 kills, including double digit spikes during all 12 of LSU's wins on the 2012 season. She has raised her pet set average to 3.94, fourth-best among the SEC leaders during conference play. She enters Friday's match 20 kills away from matching Michele Williams (2008-09) for 16th place on the program's all-time list. 

Cati Leak and Marissa Maas turned in a pair of career performances last week. Leak cranked 16 kills on a .484 hitting clip whereas Maas claimed nine blocks during the Georgia match.

Khourtni Fears has picked up 83 blocks and is right behind Elliott in the team rankings. Her 1.06 per set average is fifth-highest in the SEC. 

"This week in practice we've worked on our offensive timing, rhythm and tempo to get a few more opportunities to move some people in our serve-receive patterns and in transition," Flory said. "We realized that we've become predictable in certain situations. Opening up and allowing our players to be great athletes, and use that athleticism to create more opportunities, is the focus that we've had."

Dating back to the 2005 season, LSU has racked up a 171-69 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

Admission to all 2012 home matches at the Maravich Center is free compliments of the Advocate's "Geaux Free" program. LSU's final home match is scheduled for Wednesday, November 21 versus Arkansas at 8 p.m. televised by ESPNU

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.




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