In the final installment of our series previewing the 2014 LSU volleyball team, we take a look at the senior-laden and talented youth influx of the setters and defensive specialists.
One of the most experienced aspects of the team is at the setter spot, as Malorie Pardo enters her senior season 18 assists shy of moving up to fourth all-time in the category at LSU. With over 3,600, Pardo is on pace become just the third player in program history to amass 4,000 kills in a career, shelling out 40 or more assists in a match 22 times in 2013.
“Coming into the SEC as a freshman, that’s a tough rope to hold,” Fran Flory said. “She did a great job of that. She has weathered the storm. All of those experiences make me believe that Malorie will have a special year.”
Hailing from Fort Mitchell, Kentucky, Elly Ogle joins the Tigers as a setter, after a stellar four-year career at Notre Dame Academy where was twice named a MaxPreps/AVCA Player of the Week. Ogle set the school record for most assists in a single season, while earning the career mark with over 3,000 to her credit.
“The addition of Elly in the setting position will allow some great versatility, as she adds a different level of athleticism to that position,” Flory said. “Having Elly, we can switch into a 6-2 and have offense in three spots. That is what might potentially happen. It’s not going to happen in the beginning because we are not ready. We have some firepower that we haven’t had in the past.”
Fortifying the back row for the Tigers begins with Haley Smith who played in all 30 matches with 28 starts at the libero position, where her 500 digs for the year was sixth most in LSU history for a 3.97 digs per set average which was seventh in the SEC and seventh all-time at LSU. On seven occasions, Smith dug up at least 20 balls in a match, with 26 matches of at least 10.
After transferring from Texas State, Laura Whalen appeared in 22 matches and started four in her first season as a Tiger. Along with averaging nearly two digs per set, Whalen fired off 16 service aces, the third-most by an LSU player on the team on the season.
Another addition as a defensive specialist, as well as a top-notch setter if called upon, is Cheyenne Wood out of North Carolina. Wood lost just two matches in her final two years at Cardinal Gibbons High School, as she was a four-time state champion and was named the Class 3A MVP of the state championship game.
The final newcomer to the group is Kelly Quinn, who was named to the USA Today All-USA team and a PrepVolleyball.com High School All-American after accumulating over 2,200 digs and 100 aces at The Woodlands High School. Quinn led her team to the UIL Class 5A state championship and was named to the all-tournament team in the process.
“The libero spot may be the most competitive position, as we have five different players who could fill that role,” Flory said. “Haley, Katie, Laura, Kelly and Cheyenne are all very talented, and respond well to what we expect from them in that position. We are known for, and are ranked very high, in digs per game.”