AUBURN, Ala. – Auburn used a balanced offensive attack and had five players register 10-plus kills to defeat the LSU volleyball team in four sets [15-25, 19-25, 25-23, 23-25] Friday at Auburn Arena.
LSU (13-4, 3-2 SEC) had its 22-match winning streak over Auburn (11-7, 2-4 SEC) which dated back to the 2001 season come to a close.
“We dug ourselves another two-set hole, and we can’t continue to be that type of team especially on the road in the SEC,” head coach Fran Flory said. “We have to look at us, and our team has to redefine itself. Our defense was nonexistent. I don’t think we played very hard, we didn’t play very efficiently and we didn’t stick to the game plan. As a coaching staff, that’s our responsibility.”
Malorie Pardo distributed 35 assists and sprawled out for 16 digs en route to her 10th double-double of the season. However, LSU’s offense was limited to 48 kills and a .167 hitting percentage.
Briana Holman, the reigning SEC Offensive Player of the Week, nearly compiled her second career double-double for LSU. She pounded home a team-leading 12 kills to go along with match-high nine blocks. Desiree Elliott added nine kills and five blocks.
Haley Smith tallied five digs from the libero spot and had her run of 12 consecutive matches snapped with double figure digs.
Auburn was sparked by Camila Jersonsky (13 kills), Emily Klitzke (12 kills) and Stephanie Campbell (10 kills). All three players connected for over a .400 hitting clip. Katherine Culwell (11 kills, 24 digs), Kathia Rud (12 kills, 19 digs) and Chelsea Wintzinger (30 assists, 12 digs) secured double-doubles for Auburn.
Auburn fired out to a 4-0 advantage to open the first set and led wire-to-wire in a 25-15 victory. LSU’s offense was held to nine kills and a match-low .094 hitting ratio. Auburn was fueled by five aces and Jersonky’s four kills on five swings.
The two teams split the first 20 points of set two before Auburn ripped off a 7-1 run to surge ahead by a 17-11 margin. Rud provided four kills for Auburn to ignite the spurt. LSU trimmed the deficit down to three points on two separate occasions, the latest at 21-18 on a Holman-Mahaffey block. However, Auburn reeled off four of the final five points aided by two more Rud kills to close out the 25-19 win.
Out of the locker room, LSU’s defense turned up the intensity and forced Auburn into a match-high 11 hitting errors during the third set. Tied at 5-5, LSU garnered six straight points to fire ahead 11-5. Elliott tallied three blocks to lead the charge. LSU maintained its six-point spread at 21-15 before Auburn put together an 8-2 flurry to draw even at 23-23. LSU regrouped after a timeout with a Holman-Mahaffey block coupled with an Auburn hitting miscue to take a 25-23 victory.
Set four featured a match-high 10 ties and four lead changes. LSU took a 15-13 edge on a Lindelow kill, but Auburn charged back with six of the next eight points to garner a 19-17 lead. Down 22-19, LSU used one final rally draw to knot the score at 23-23 capped by a Lindelow ace. Unfortunately, LSU committed back-to-back hitting errors from Leak and Elliott to enable Auburn to escape with the 25-23 decision.
“Auburn played great defense, and we didn’t do a good job of answering throughout the match,” Flory said. “Our hitters got frustrated. Before the match, I told our players that we were getting to have to have great composure and great poise during the long rallies. We didn’t finish when we had the chances to finish. That’s the bottom line and why we lost the match. When you don’t trust yourself offensively, you’re not going to kill a lot of balls. That’s the main problem we had tonight.”
LSU caps its weekend road swing with a Sunday matinee at Alabama. First serve is on-tap for 1:30 p.m. with free live audio and live stats also will be inside the Geaux Zone at www.LSUsports.net/live.
Desiree Elliott will continue LSU’s legacy of serving the community. She is teaming up with St. Vincent de Paul and Bishop Ott Shelter Program for her season-long senior class philanthropy project. The Tigers will be collecting items ranging from children’s clothes and shoes along with baby supplies and toys at every home match as part of the “Geaux Kids” initiative. Fans will be able to donate items inside the “Geaux Kids” boxes located at the Tiger Fan Zone.
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.