LSU's Briana Holman
Photo by:Chris Parent, LSU Athletics Student Photographer
Blocking Vaults Volleyball to Tiger Classic Title
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Published: September 01, 2013, 12:10 AM (CT)
by Matt Dunaway, Associate SID

BATON ROUGE – The LSU volleyball team racked up 18 blocks, nine apiece from Briana Holman and Madi Mahaffey, as the Tigers battled their way to a five-set victory over San Diego State [25-17, 18-25, 25-22, 21-25, 15-11] to claim the Tiger Classic championship Saturday at the Maravich Center.

With the victory, LSU (3-0) secured its first undefeated opening weekend since 2010. The last time the Tigers faced San Diego State (2-1) was in 1991 when LSU went to its last NCAA Final Four.

“I said it before the match that we have to be patient with our blocking,” head coach Fran Flory said. “It’s a work in progress, and it’s going to show up at some point. I really didn’t expect it to happen tonight, but I’m certainly happy that it did. We were very disciplined, and we did a really good job of getting in front of their hitters in key situations. We weren’t perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but we did a great job of taking away their hitters best opportunities and making them hit a secondary shot. Ultimately, that’s the goal of every blocker.”

Offensively, Holman ripped a team-leading and career-best 15 kills on a .359 hitting percentage. Cati Leak, the Tiger Classic MVP, added her third double-double of the weekend. She buried 14 kills and reeled in 12 digs.

Desiree Elliott and Malorie Pardo collected Tiger Classic All-Tournament Team honors. Pardo handed out 41 assists to go along with eight digs, while Elliott turned in a balanced effort with nine kills, six digs and five blocks. The 41 helpers brought Pardo’s career total to 2,441, and she is 18 assists away from passing Luciana Santana (1992-95) for sixth place on LSU’s all-time list. Elliott’s nine spikes enabled her to pull within 30 kills of Meagan Davis (1998-2001) for the No. 18 position on the program’s leaderboard.

Laura Whalen and Katie Lindelow fueled LSU’s back row group with 14 and 12 digs, respectively.

After splitting the first four sets, LSU raced out to a 5-1 lead to begin the decisive fifth stanza sparked by two Elliott kills and two blocks. The Aztecs crept back to within 9-8, but Emily Ehrle provided a critical sideout spike to cap a long rally. Holman followed with another kill to push the LSU lead back to three points. Mahaffey tacked on a kill and a solo block to close out the 15-11 triumph. 

“That’s what I’m most proud about is how we managed the match especially the fifth set,” Flory said. “This was the type of match that statistically doesn’t look like a very good match, but it was a hard fought, gritty match. There were a lot of momentum changing plays that weren’t on that stat sheet. The fact that we were able to make those great touches, keep ourselves in rallies and not error ourselves out – I think that was the biggest maturation point of the weekend for this team.”

“I think we really got into a rhythm once we figured out we had control of the match,” Mahaffey said. “It’s our home court, we always play like we’re up – that’s what Coach (Flory) always tells us. When we were down, we kept telling each other ‘Get into our own flow, find our rhythm.’ Once we got our own rhythm, we just took off. Bri (Holman) came in, and she is just a physical presence on the court that we all have adapted to. It’s an awesome feeling for our team to win this match.”
San Diego State had three players notch double figure kills headed by Raegan Shelton’s 22 spikes. Johnna Fouch distributed a match-high 56 assists whereas Courtney Vaccarello sprawled out for a match-best 25 digs for the Aztecs.

After a pair of early ties and lead changes, LSU seized momentum of the opening set with six straight points ignited by a Holman kill, an Elliott solo stuff, a Lindelow ace and a Leak spike to go up 8-2. The Tigers turned in a match-best 72 percent sideout efficiency to cruise to the 25-17 win.

LSU carried that early momentum into the second set, but San Diego State wiped away an early 5-0 hole. The Aztecs snatched a 15-14 edge on a Vaccarello ace. All square at 17-17, SDSU strung together seven of the final eight points to knot the match at a set apiece with a 25-18 victory. 

The Tigers returned the favor to San Diego State in set three, and fought back from an early 9-4 deficit. The duo of Leak and Holman went to work and powered home nine of LSU’s 13 kills in the stanza. The Tigers also found their serve-receive rhythm and converted at 69 percent rate. LSU closed out the 25-22 win on a Mahaffey solo block.

The fourth set was a seesaw affair that featured 12 ties and seven lead changes. San Diego State relied on a strong finishing kick and scored the frame’s final five points to secure the 25-21 victory to force a fifth set. The Aztecs received six Shelton kills and bottled up LSU to a match-low .135 hitting ratio.

Next up, LSU travels to the Rice Invitational to begin a stretch of three consecutive weekends on the road. The Tigers will square off with Arkansas-Little Rock [Friday – 4 p.m.], Texas A&M-Corpus Christi [Saturday – 10 a.m.] and host Rice [Saturday – 7 p.m.]. Live audio and live stats will be available for free inside the Geaux Zone at www.LSUsports.net/live.

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 and @lsuvb on Instagram.

Admission to all 2013 home matches at the Maravich Center are free compliments of the Advocate's "Geaux Free" program.

2013 Tiger Classic All-Tournament Team
MVP – Cati Leak [LSU]
Mckenzie Adams [UTSA]
Desiree Elliott [LSU]
Johanna Fouch [San Diego State]
Summer Nash [San Diego State]
Malorie Pardo [LSU]
Raegan Shelton [San Diego State]
Kaylin Squyres [UC Davis]


Volleyball Postmatch Quotes – August 31, 2013
LSU vs. San Diego State

HEAD COACH FRAN FLORY

On the team’s blocking effort …
“I said it before the match that we have to be patient with our blocking. It’s a work in progress, and it’s going to show up at some point. I really didn’t expect it to happen tonight, but I’m certainly happy that it did. We were very disciplined, and we did a really good job of getting in front of their hitters in key situations. We weren’t perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but we did a great job of taking away their hitters best opportunities and making them hit a secondary shot. Ultimately, that’s the goal of every blocker.”

On the team fifth set performance …
“That’s what I’m most proud about is how we managed the match especially the fifth set. This was the type of match that statistically doesn’t look like a very good match, but it was a hard fought, gritty match. There were a lot of momentum changing plays that weren’t on that stat sheet. The fact that we were able to make those great touches, keep ourselves in rallies and not error ourselves out – I think that was the biggest maturation point of the weekend for this team.”

On Briana Homan’s presence on the court…
“Bri has an amazing amount of athletic ability, and she can play above the net better than anybody else in our gym and in many gyms across the country. We just have to find the right connection that’s out there. Bri’s a freshman. It’s hard to step into the collegiate game in the middle blocking position and immediately start impacting matches. It’s going to take her some time. She’s a fast learner, she moves quick in terms of processing information and the ability to play up there. Malorie’s (Pardo) ability to now find her – that’s a huge step in the right direction. When we can find that on a consistent basis, she’s going to be awfully difficult to defend.”

On spending the next three weekends on the road…
“We’re not afraid to be on the road. Our international trip taught us a lot about managing play on the road and different circumstances. I expect us to be a very good road team. When we go to Houston, that’s home for many players on our team. We’re going to have a nice crowd regardless of what venue we’re playing in. I think our kids are excited to get on the road. That’s what really kicks off the season, honestly. It’s great to be at home, but when you get on the road and start fighting for wins, those are the ones that define teams. Our team understands that, and we will be very prepared for next weekend.”

RIGHT SIDE MADI MAHAFFEY

On the key to tonight’s win …
“I think we really got into a rhythm once we figured out we had control of the match. It’s our home court, we always play like we’re up – that’s what Coach (Flory) always tells us. When we were down, we kept telling each other ‘Get into our own flow, find our rhythm.’ Once we got our own rhythm, we just took off. Bri (Holman) came in, and she is just a physical presence on the court that we all have adapted to. It’s an awesome feeling for our team to win this match.”

On the team’s 18 blocks …
“I believe their outsides were going to see if they could work on me. Once they figured out they couldn’t get through me, they started to work on Bri (Holman). And of course, Desi (Elliott) did her part to shut them down, that’s how good of a blocker she is. (Assistant Coach) Sam (Ojie) really looked us in the eye and told us it was our job to shut them down. We made it a point to say ‘This is our net, and no one else touches it. This is our side.’”

On what the team needs to improve on before next weekend’s road trip …
“I think it was a great opening weekend. My first time, and I’m a junior, that we were able to win all three matches on opening weekend. That’s really awesome. It puts our foot down in our own gym. I think we’re really excited to travel together. Bus rides are always fun. Good team bonding, everything like that. This weekend, we’ll work on finding more of a rhythm and flow to our offense. Personally, I need to work better at connecting Malorie a little bit better offensively.”

MIDDLE BLOCKER BRIANA HOLMAN

On LSU’s defense approach in the final game…
“We’ve been working on blocking a lot during the preseason and a lot of that has translated over to the game-type situations. (Madi) Mahaffey and I –we just have a certain chemistry on and off the court – which is good for any team.”

On finding her offensive rhythm…
“Of course, I couldn’t do it by myself. Our passers really took care of business. Mal (Pardo) and I have been working really hard to get a solid connection. I just did what I could do to put the ball away. She did a great job of putting it in the right place, and everything fell into place for us tonight.”

On what the team needs to improve on before next weekend’s road trip …
“We still need a lot of work on our serve-receive game, and we still need to focus on blocking a lot. No doubt we’ve gotten better, but there’s still a lot of work to be done. I know me, as an individual, I need to stop reaching straight up.”


 

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