LSU's Haley Smith
Photo by:Chris Parent, LSU Athletics Student Photographer
Volleyball Bested by No. 5 Florida in Four Sets
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Published: November 01, 2013, 11:03 PM (CT)
Updated: November 02, 2013, 06:45 AM (CT)
by Matt Dunaway, Associate SID

BATON ROUGE – Briana Holman powered home 12 kills on a .370 hitting percentage to go along with a match-high six blocks, but the LSU volleyball team was handed a 3-1 loss by No. 5 Florida [19-25, 20-25, 25-23, 16-25] Friday at the Maravich Center.

LSU (14-7, 4-5 SEC) was only the seventh team this season to take a set off the Gators (21-2, 10-1 SEC) who remained a half-match behind Missouri in the SEC standings. The Tigers have dropped 15 consecutive matches to ranked opponents dating back to the 2010 season.

“We have to understand the game better,” head coach Fran Flory said. “We have to understand where the key points are and how to make those plays. We truly have to play within ourselves. I think we get so caught up in our errors and successes. We don’t have the mental ground. There is no stability. There is no predictability of who’s going to play at what level at set to set, sometimes play to play and sometimes touch to touch during a rally. We really have to stabilize ourselves and find ourselves. We were in our own way tonight. We have to decide that we are pretty good players, and this team is a pretty good team.”

For Holman, the 12 kills were over three sets after she came off the bench for the first time in her career. She has powered home 10-plus kills in 16 of her last 19 matches and tallied at least five blocks a team-leading 15 times this season.

Cati Leak turned in nine kills, eight digs and matched a career-high with five assists, while Desiree Elliott and Katie Lindelow added seven kills apiece. However, the trio was limited to a .128 hitting percentage on their 94 combined swings. Lindelow registered 12 digs and was 35-for-36 on her reception attempts.

Malorie Pardo handed out 30 assists and notched 18 digs en route to her team-leading 13th double-double of the season. She also equaled a career-high and slapped three of LSU’s six aces.

Haley Smith secured 16 digs giving her 10-plus scoops during 15 of her 16 starts at the libero position. She also was 17-of-18 in her reception attempts.

Florida cranked 61 kills on a .283 hitting clip compared to LSU’s 44 kills and a .118 hitting ratio. The Gators also held an 82-68 digs advantage and totaled a 65 percent sideout efficiency.

Florida’s middle attack of Chloe Mann and Simone Antwi fueled the Gators with 14 and 12 kills, respectively. The duo garnered an impressive .511 attack percentage over their 45 swings. Alex Holston and Ziva Recek chipped in 13 kills each. The UF back row was anchored by Taylor Unroe’s 21 digs and Nikki O’Rourke’s 19 scoops. 

“We had a game plan that we thought could shadow them [Mann and Antwi] and create some havoc,” Flory said. “Briana came in after the first set and did it. She was the first to do it, and she really got them flustered too. They really didn’t know where to go to from there. The problem was we didn’t stay with the game plan. Again, it is the same story. We couldn’t get out of our own way. We got excited. We started jumping rather than staying patient and staying in front of the people.”

Florida made the most of eight LSU hitting errors to build a 16-7 advantage during the opening set. The Tigers were able to pull back to 20-16, but the Gators turned to Mann who finished a perfect frame with six kills on six swings to claim the 25-19 win.

LSU was able to regroup and raced out to a 9-4 lead to start set two capped by a Lindelow ace. The Gators charged back with 15 of the next 20 points to turn the tables and garner a 19-14 edge of their own.  LSU used a Leak kill coupled with consecutive Mann hitting miscues to close the deficit down to 20-18. Florida answered with two kills from Holston and Recek to tuck away the 25-20 victory.

LSU’s offense found its form in the third set as Elliott, Holman and Leak belted 14 of the team’s 15 kills. The Tigers connected for a .343 hitting percentage and converted on 16-of-23 sideouts. After splitting the first 12 points of the frame, Holman cranked three kills to go along with an Elliott block and a Pardo ace to vault LSU ahead 14-9. The Tigers continued to push points behind three straight Leak kills and another Holman spike to make it 19-12. Florida sliced the margin down to one point on four separate occasions, but the Tigers finished the frame with four straight sideout aided by two Elliott kills to close out the 25-23 win.  

“I thought we did a nice job of changing the tempo of serving,” Flory said. “Florida is a team that likes people to hit the ball hard at them. In the second set, we served a different tempo ball. In the third set, the key was we were able to maintain that. Not only did we try to change location, but we changed the pace of the serve. I thought that created some difficulty for their passers. That is the bright side of the match for us.”

The Gators took a 13-4 advantage to start set four and never looked back en route to the 25-16 victory. Recek provided six kills, six digs and four blocks to highlight the frame for Florida.   

“Every time we play, everyone [the opposing coaches] says that we are the one team that is getting better and better throughout the season,” Flory said. “I believe that. This team hasn’t found themselves yet. The goal for this week is to find it, live it and role with it.”

“Actually, a lot of really good things happened tonight,” Pardo said. “I don’t know if everybody sees them right now, but we didn’t even play to the best of our ability. We were with them every single set. Just imagine if we would have played the way we are capable of playing. Just knowing that we can do that, I think is going to help when people start thinking in that way.”

LSU opens a stretch of six of its next eight matches on the road next Friday versus Georgia. First serve is slated for 6 p.m. CT with live audio and live stats available for free 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.

Volleyball Postmatch Quotes
LSU vs. No. 5 Florida – November 1, 2013

HEAD COACH FRAN FLORY

On tonight’s match…
“I thought we matched up better in the middle than we ended up. Briana (Holman) did a great job. She hurt her wrist in the middle of the week. I knew we were going to play her. I just didn’t know where we were going to play her, and how we were going to match her up. I thought Desiree (Elliott) had a Desi type of match. We needed to create a little bit more for her, and she needed to hit a few more spots and be less predictable in transition. I thought the second portion of the first set and the first half of the second set we had a nice little role going, but we couldn’t get over our own way. That was the story of the match. We could not get out of our own way. We couldn’t simplify the game and make the plays we were presented. They were right in front of us, but we just didn’t execute.”

On Florida’s offensive balance…
“We had a game plan that we thought could shadow them and create some havoc. Briana came in after the first set and did it. She was the first to do it, and she really got them flustered too. They really didn’t know where to go to from there. The problem was we didn’t stay with the game plan. Again, it is the same story. We couldn’t get out of our own way. We got excited. We started jumping rather than staying patient and staying in front of the people.”

On LSU’s serving performance…
“I thought we did a nice job of changing the tempo of serving. Florida is a team that likes people to hit the ball hard at them. In the second set, we served a different tempo ball. In the third set, the key was we were able to maintain that. Not only did we try to change location, but we changed the pace of the serve. I thought that created some difficulty for their passers. That is the bright side of the match for us.”

On preparing for Georgia and Kentucky…
“We have to understand the game better. We have to understand where the key points are and how to make those plays. We truly have to play within ourselves. I think we get so caught up in our errors and successes. We don’t have the mental ground. There is no stability. There is no predictability of who’s going to play at what level at set to set, sometimes play to play and sometimes touch to touch during a rally. We really have to stabilize ourselves and find ourselves. We were in our own way tonight. We have to decide that we are pretty good players, and this team is a pretty good team. Every time we play everyone says that we are the one team that is getting better and better throughout the season. I believe that. This team hasn’t found themselves yet. The goal for this week is to find it, live it and role with it.”

SETTER MALORIE PARDO

On the difference for the team in the third set versus the other sets …
“We knew we had to fight hard. I compared it to Miami where we were down two. We knew we could do it, and I think that’s what drove us. Honestly, I think they let up a little bit as well which helped us. We did have that extra drive coming out of the locker room. My hitters were on, we said we were going to have fun and attack every ball. We followed through with all those things which allowed us to win that third set.”

On Florida’s offense …
“You have to give them props, they are a very good and very talented team. Their offense is amazing. It’s help because they are 6’ 4” but their shots were really good. If we lined up on one way, they would switch their shots. Defensively, we could have been better. We could have picked up some of the balls and dug a little deeper. But they were on tonight.”

On the positives that happened in tonight’s match…
“Actually, a lot of really good things happened tonight. I don’t know if everybody sees them right now, but we didn’t even play to the best of our ability. We were with them every single set. Just imagine if we would have played the way we are capable of playing. We may have been able to take another set – not saying we would have won, but we could have been in a fifth set where anything could happen. Just knowing that we can do that, I think is going to help when people start thinking in that way.”

On what they want to focus on in practice this week…
“We just have to fight and learn how to stay in it. We have to learn how to dig down deep and just touch balls. The passion for the game is something we need to get back. We need to get the fight back. We need to have confidence in ourselves. We are a good team and some people don’t see it yet. We have to figure out the chemistry again, and I believe we will.”

MIDDLE BLOCKER BRIANA HOLMAN

On Florida’s middle blockers …
“I honestly don’t think it’s what they did. Yes, they are talented, but I think it’s about what we didn’t do. We didn’t have confidence in ourselves or as much confidence in ourselves as we should have. We weren’t doing the little things like being disciplined.”

On how she was able to bounce back…
“I cleared my mind and tried to erase the past because it’s over. There is nothing I can do about it. I tried to just reset my mind and come out and play with my heart. “

 

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