LSU's Cati Leak
Photo by:Chris Parent, LSU Athletics Student Photographer
Leak Lifts Volleyball Past UTSA, 3-1
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Published: August 30, 2013, 11:07 PM (CT)
Updated: August 31, 2013, 12:31 AM (CT)
by Matt Dunaway, Associate SID

BATON ROUGE – Cati Leak hammered home a career-best 19 kills on a crisp .304 hitting percentage and tacked on 14 digs en route to her third career double-double as the LSU volleyball team secured a 3-1 victory over Texas-San Antonio [25-22, 25-17, 28-30, 25-21] during the season opener for both teams Friday at the Maravich Center.

With the victory, LSU (1-0) has won 13 of its 16 openers under head coach Fran Flory. The Tigers also have won all three meetings versus UTSA (0-1). 

“I am most proud of Cati’s hitting percentage,” Flory said. “Certainly, we needed every one of those 19 kills, but I think she managed being an outside hitter really, really well. That’s something we worked through the spring to develop, and I think she gained that confidence on the international trip to understand how to play that position. You don’t have to put every ball away, you just have to keep it in play. When you get your chance, you have to seize the opportunity.”

“The spring and the Europe trip helped us become a core group and figure out how we play together,” Leak said. “The new editions have added bonuses to the team. They made the gym competitive and started us off strong this match. When each person wasn’t succeeding like they wanted to, the team helped and brought them back into it. Everyone worked as a team tonight and helped win the first game.”

Malorie Pardo handed out 47 assists to go along 14 digs as the Tigers turned in a .247 hitting clip. Making her LSU debut, Emily Ehrle chipped in 10 kills on a .333 hitting ratio. Briana Holman came away with seven kills and five blocks in her first match with the Purple & Gold. 

Desiree Elliott and Khourtni Fears added eight kills apiece. For Elliott, she became the 20th player in program history to eclipse 1,000 career kills. She also added a career-high 12 digs and three blocks.

On the back row, Katie Lindelow registered 16 digs in her first career start at the libero position. The Tigers also received 11 digs from Laura Whalen.

UTSA was fueled by McKenzie Adams, who ripped 29 kills on a .344 attack percentage and reeled in 20 digs. Brandy Husky garnered 50 assists whereas Kasey Kiefer tallied a match-best 26 dig for the Roadrunners.

“I thought we played fairly well,” Flory said. “We never really got going. I think we served very well. I was proud of our serving. I think that at times we really looked like we were in sync and doing some good things, but we were not able to sustain it. It was a good first match. You have to credit UTSA because they are a great defensive team. They are a very solid team, and McKenzie (Adams) was amazing. We knew the ball was going to her, (and) we couldn’t stop her.

The two teams split the first 14 points of the opening set before UTSA pieced together back-to-back kills coupled with an LSU attack error to take a 10-7 edge. The Roadrunners maintained their three-point cushion at 18-15 before the Tigers ripped off five straight points sparked by a Whalen ace. Elliott, Fears and Leak also knocked kills during the spurt. UTSA fought back to even the score at 22-22, but LSU responded with three quick points highlighted by Elliott and Holman spikes to take the 25-22 decision.  

The Tigers carried that momentum into set two and built an early 15-9 advantage. Fears popped three kills to lead the charge. UTSA would trim the margin down to three points on three separate occasions, the latest at 20-17. LSU scored the final five points of the frame to tuck away the 25-17 win.

Out of the locker room, UTSA raced out to a 7-0 lead to begin the third set. The Tigers would fight back and knot the score at 20-20. The two teams went back-and-forth and exchanged the lead four times. LSU would wipe away three set points before the Roadrunners collected a 30-28 victory. Adams delivered 12 kills on a .478 hitting clip to spark UTSA, while Leak countered with nine kills on a .517 hitting ratio for the Tigers.

With LSU trailing 18-17 in set four, the Tigers made their run after Helen Boyle smacked consecutive kills paired with a Lindelow ace and UTSA hitting miscue to go up 20-18. LSU’s defense forced the Roadrunners into two more attacking errors and two service mistakes to clinch the 25-21 triumph.

“It was important for us to get out of here in four (sets) because when somebody gains the momentum, it’s hard to stop them in that fifth set,” Flory said. “I was proud of them how we stopped (their momentum). With these young kids playing different positions, a new libero that’s never played the spot, we weren’t close to being smooth defensively. We weren’t close to being disciplined, but we were able to gobble through and fight through and create enough digs to give us opportunities to transition and get kills.”

“Last year, we definitely didn’t go back up on the roller coaster,” Pardo said. “We stayed down. I actually believe it is the Europe trip that is helping us. We handled our composure much better. Our motto and what we have been telling each other is next point, next play, focus on the next thing. That showed tonight. We didn’t get frustrated. If we did something wrong, we laughed it off and brushed it to the side. The focus was more on get this next point and make little goals.”

LSU wraps up the Tiger Classic Saturday against UC Davis and San Diego State at the Maravich Center. First serve is scheduled for 10 a.m. and 7:30 p.m., respectively. Both matches will have live video and live stats available for Geaux Zone subscribers 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.

Volleyball Postgame Quotes – August 30, 2013
LSU vs. Texas-San Antonio

Head Coach Fran Flory

On starting 2013 with a win after the off-season in Europe and fall camp…
“I thought we played fairly well. We never really got going. I think we served very well. I was proud of our serving. I think that at times we really looked like we were in sync and doing some good things, but we were not able to sustain it. It was a good first match. You have to credit UTSA because they are a great defensive team. They are a very solid team, and Mckenzie (Adams) was amazing. We knew the ball was going to her, (and) we couldn’t stop her.

On Cati Leak’s career high 19 kills and hitting over .300…
“I am most proud of her hitting percentage. Certainly, we needed every one of those 19 kills, but I think she managed being an outside hitter really, really well. That’s something we worked through the spring to develop, and I think she gained that confidence on the international trip to understand how to play that position. You don’t have to put every ball away, you just have to keep it in play. When you get your chance, you have to seize the opportunity.

On Malorie Pardo moving the ball around to create a balanced offense…
“I thought we were fairly balanced. I really would like for Cati (Leak) not to have gotten as many swings as she did, but I thought she did a good job of balancing and making sure people got good swings in good situations. She made some really good choices. She tried to create for our middles. She did all the things we’re asking her to do, and she was fairly consistent with her locations. She gave her outside some pretty good swings. That was something that we weren’t real good at last year. We were kind of all over the place and her outsides were constantly adjusting so it was nice to see her give people swings and create opportunities.

On Desiree Elliott’s 1000th kill and her ability to play back row…
“I thought Desi (Desiree Elliott) played back row really well. I thought she passed really well. They didn’t really get after her a while lot. Desi has her way of playing over-physically on the back row and trying to blow balls up rather than cushion and control balls, passing and playing defense. It was a great effort for her defensively. We’re going to have to be more disciplined with her blocking on the right side, and we have to give her a few more swings on the right side in better situations and understand how to really create for her.

On the team battling back after the third set…
“It was important for us to get out of here in four (sets) because when somebody gains the momentum, it’s hard to stop them in that fifth set. I was proud of them how we stopped (their momentum). I was really disappointed in the start of the third (set), coming out of the locker room, we did a really poor job of starting down 7-0. That’s just not acceptable for what we do, and I think it’s a lesson learned. The good news is, it’s what we did on the international trip. We just don’t go away. We just keep playing, keep playing and we matched a really good defensive team in digs. I’m really proud of that. With these young kids playing different positions, a new libero that’s never played the spot, we weren’t close to being smooth defensively. We weren’t close to being disciplined, but we were able to gobble through and fight through and create enough digs to give us opportunities to transition and get kills.”

On Katie Lindelow’s play…
“I thought Katie (Lindelow) did a nice job. Everybody’s going to view Katie (Lindelow) in Meghan’s (Mannari) shoes from last year, and Katie is not Megan. We don’t have that expectation. Katie’s just got to manage that spot and take care of her business, and first is passing. The fact that she was perfect passing in terms of she didn’t get aced, I thought she did a really nice job. She’s got to control first tempo a little better, and that’s a work in progress. She’ll continue to do that. Defensively, we moved her and asked her to play middle back, left back. We matched her up against the best hitter, and I thought she responded really well to that, so that’s a nice addition that she’s that adaptable in her first match as libero.

SETTER MALORIE PARDO

On starting 2013 on a winning note…
“Winning is always good for us. We took the Europe trip, and I can see how we put it into our play with keeping balls in play. We did a lot better with that tonight. The win is going to help us tomorrow. We started slow but hanging tough and picking up this type of win is going to help us tomorrow. We now know how to carry that and play through that.”

On starting slow and coming back…
“Last year, we definitely didn’t go back up on the roller coaster. We stayed down. I actually believe it is the Europe trip that is helping us. We handled our composure much better. Our motto and what we have been telling each other is next point, next play, focus on the next thing. That showed tonight. We didn’t get frustrated. If we did something wrong, we laughed it off and brushed it to the side. The focus was more on get this next point and make little goals. For example, let’s get eighteen then let’s get nineteen and focus on those little things.”

On Cati Leak’s performance…
“Her whole mentality and composure changed. The role shot worked amazingly for her tonight. Then, she can just come back and rip it. I trust her more than I have ever trusted her before. She has done very well during the offseason, and I believe in her.”

On the new players on the offense…
“Finding them is very easy. I already have trust in them, and that is really good. They work so hard during two-a-days. I can set any of my hitters and feel comfortable. That is very rare when new people come into an offense for a setter. Briana (Holman) did very well tonight. She didn’t feel comfortable, but she did very well. She doesn’t think she did. She kept balls in, and Emily (Ehrle) put balls away. Both Brianna and Emily made some big kills.”

On how to improve for tomorrow’s two games…
“I think we need to prepare a little bit before. We were prepared, but I think we need to do a little better. We need to get our mentality right before we come on the court. Every game we started off slow and behind. We need to be more mentally prepared tomorrow than physically for the start of matches.”

OUTSIDE HITTER CATI LEAK

On starting off the season with a win…
“The spring and the Europe trip helped us become a core group and figure out how we play and how to play together. The new editions have added bonuses to the team. They made the gym competitive and started us off strong this match. When each person wasn’t succeeding like they wanted to, the team helped and brought them back into it. Everyone worked as a team tonight and helped win the first game.”

On her career high 19 kills…
“The defense needs to be credited for it, as well as Malorie (Pardo) for creating the opportunity and open holes. The team helped by talking and made it a lot easier for me.”

On Desiree Elliott accomplishing 1,000 kills…
“I think it is a huge accomplishment. I am glad to be apart of that accomplishment for her. She is doing a great job. She is being thrown into the middle some and also the right side. As a senior, she is helping out our team a lot.”

On carrying the momentum in tomorrow’s games…
“We have to control our side. Right now that is all we can go on. We don’t really have too much information on the other team. We just need to control what we can and go from there.”

 

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