BATON ROUGE – The LSU volleyball team was unable to knock No. 11 Missouri off its undefeated perch as Mizzou rallied for a 3-1 victory (25-17, 17-25, 19-25, 21-25) over the homestanding Tigers Friday at the Maravich Center.
LSU (13-6, 3-4 SEC) came out the gates firing on all cylinders and connected for 16 kills on a .359 hitting percentage during the first set. LSU also managed an impressive 83 percent sideout ratio in the opening stanza. However, LSU was unable to maintain its early momentum. The Tigers were limited 32 kills on a .092 hitting clip and a 47 percent sideout efficiency over the final three sets.
Missouri (24-0, 8-0 SEC) rode Carly Kan’s powerful right arm to a career performance. The freshman ripped a career-high 24 kills on a .400 hitting ratio to go along with a career-best 17 digs. Molly Kreklow (54 assists, 18 digs) and Lisa Henning (17 kills, 12 digs) also tallied double-doubles for Mizzou.
“They really did find themselves (after the first set),” head coach Fran Flory said. “We made some great runs, but we couldn’t sustain it. That’s a team that has proven senior leadership. Their setter (Molly Kreklow) created so well for (Carly) Kan. She is such a versatile player. Every time we stepped in front of one shot, she was going to hit another. You have to credit our team. We played hard. We played with great heart and great courage. I am proud of our effort.”
Malorie Pardo handed out 36 assists and tacked on 13 digs en route to her team-leading 11th double-double of the season. LSU’s offense finished with 48 kills on a .154 hitting percentage.
Katie Lindelow cranked a team-leading 12 kills and reeled in 11 digs to collect her fourth double-double over her last six outings. She also was a spotless 30-for-30 on her reception attempts.
After missing LSU’s last three matches, Khourtni Fears turned in 10 kills on a .435 attack percentage and a match-high nine blocks just shy of her first career double dip.
“Khourtni had a great week of practice, and she is recommitted,” Flory said. “She got herself organized and refocused. I am proud of her. This team responds to Khourtni. They want her on the court. When she is playing hard and aggressively, she is hard to defend.”
Briana Holman garnered nine kills but was held to a career-low .037 hitting clip. She also was limited to a season’s low two blocks. Helen Boyle and Cati Leak chipped in seven and six kills, respectively.
LSU’s defense limited Mizzou’s high-octane offense to a .227 hitting percentage. Missouri entered the match with a nation’s best .374 team hitting ratio.
Haley Smith led five LSU players with double figure digs. She racked up 20 digs for the fourth time in her career and converted on all 20 of her passing attempts. Leak and Boyle also registered 17 and 14 digs for the Tigers.
“I definitely think we had a lot of positives coming out on the court tonight,” Smith said. “The tempo of our offense changed a lot from our matches last weekend which it needed to do. I think our hitters picked different shots, and they knew when to swing. They took better opportunities that were a lot better than last weekend.”
LSU charged out to a 12-4 lead in set one behind three Lindelow kills and three blocks involving Fears. The Tigers led wire-to-wire and never looked back en route to the 25-17 win. Lindelow and Holman combined 11 kills on 15 errorless swings, while LSU converted on 15-of-18 of its receptions.
“We have been practicing all week on starting off strong, being aggressive and attacking,” Pardo said. “What we have been doing in practice showed tonight on the court. We focused on getting our serves to be more aggressive. We also focused on picking up more balls on offense and defense. We fought through every drill in practice this week, and I think that carried into tonight’s match.”
Missouri regrouped during the early moments of the second set and used two Henning kills coupled with three blocks to go up 7-1. Like LSU in the opening stanza, Missouri didn’t trail in the frame and claimed a 25-17 victory. Henning and Kan totaled 12 of Mizzou’s 16 kills.
Out of the locker room, the two teams traded four ties and three lead changes to start set three. Missouri seized the momentum with three consecutive blocks sandwiched between Kan kills to extend a 10-8 edge into a 15-8 advantage. LSU pulled back to within 17-15 on a Fears-Pardo block, but Missouri answered with eight of the final 12 points to take a 25-19 decision.
LSU was poised to send the match to a winner-take-all fifth set but couldn’t hold a 17-10 lead in the fourth. Holman and Fears sparked a strong middle attack with six kills, while LSU’s defense forced Missouri into seven hitting miscues. The 15-4 finishing kick for Mizzou was capped by back-to-back Kreklow second-contact kills to tuck away the 25-21 win.
“Really and truly, it was what we were doing rather than what they were doing,” Flory said. “I think in the middle portion of the match, we backed off serving. We did not do a good job of following our serving game plan. We didn’t handle the ball well. We knew those were going to be the keys. It was right there for us. We just couldn’t quite execute it.”
LSU wraps up the October portion of its schedule with a Sunday matinee versus Arkansas. First serve is scheduled for 1 p.m. with live video and live stats available for Geaux Zone subscribers at www.LSUsports.net/live.
Prior to Sunday’s match, LSU Athletics will play host to its annual Halloween BOOzar which provides a safe and fun trick-or-treating environment for children beginning at 11:30 a.m. at the Maravich Center Plaza. Members of LSU’s athletic teams, coaching staff, training staff, cheerleaders, Tiger Girls and Mike the Tiger will be on-hand. Attendees are asked to bring canned goods that will be donated to the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank.
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. 11 Missouri – October 25, 2013
Head Coach Fran Flory
On tonight’s match versus Missouri…
“They really did find themselves. We made some great runs, but we couldn’t sustain it. That’s a team that has proven senior leadership. Their setter (Molly Kreklow) created so well for (Carly) Kan. She is such a versatile player. Every time we stepped in front of one shot, she was going to hit another. You have to credit our team. We played hard. We played with great heart and great courage. I am proud of our effort. I thought in that fourth set if we would have got a few extra touches and plays, we would have gotten it to five. When you get to a fifth set in this sport, who knows what would have happened.”
On losing a 17 to 10 lead in the fourth set…
“That is frustrating. That was the rotation we were having trouble with the entire match. I tried to change the matchup in that last set, and that didn’t help. Really and truly, it was what we were doing rather than what they were doing. I think in the middle portion of the match, we backed off serving. We did not do a good job of following our serving game plan. We didn’t handle the ball well. We knew those were going to be the keys. Ultimately at the end of the match, that was the key as well. We gave away serves in the fourth after twenty points. We battled back into it and didn’t handle the ball well. We knew what we had to do. It was right there for us. We just couldn’t quite execute it.”
On Khourtni Fears’ performance coming back into the lineup…
“Khourtni had a great week of practice, and she is recommitted. She got herself organized and refocused. I am proud of her. This team responds to Khourtni. They want her on the court. When she is playing hard and aggressively, she is hard to defend. We can’t have that all the time with Khourtni for some reason. We will see how she bounces back. If she bounces back hard Sunday, she will solidify a spot in the lineup for us.”
On Missouri taking away Cati Leak…
“I think everybody tries to take (Cati) Leak away from us. They feel like if we don’t have Leak, we can’t win. We rely on her too much. I thought Malorie in the beginning of the match did a good job of using our back row people and taking the pressure off of her. As our passing broke down, we got a little too predictable. I think that created too much pressure for Cati. They are a very good blocking team. She was matched up against Whitney Little, one of the best blocking middles in the league. Unfortunately, we couldn’t create the right swings for her.”
On facing Arkansas on Sunday…
“I am not concerned about how our team is going to respond. I think our team has found their rhythm, and the way they need to play. Arkansas is a very good team. They are a different team from Missouri. If we have this type of effort, we will have a better opportunity to be successful on Sunday. Our defense was very good today. Our serving was good through stretches. Our offense was better than it has been. I thought Malorie ran a more versatile offense. We weren’t as predictable. I thought that is who we need to be.”
Setter Malorie Pardo
On LSU’s strong start…
“We have been practicing all week on starting off strong, being aggressive and attacking. What we have been doing in practice showed tonight on the court. We focused on getting our serves to be more aggressive. We also focused on picking up more balls on offense and defense. We fought through every drill in practice this week, and I think that carried into tonight’s match. I think we will carry that over into Sunday’s match.”
On Khourtni Fears’ return to the lineup…
“She really picked it up in practice this week. Khourtni [Fears] really showed that tonight on the court. She is a key player for us if she wants to be. She decided she wanted to be tonight, and we need to keep it going when she’s in there.”
On the limitation of the outside hitters…
“I think they had a pretty good match especially compared to last weekend. I think that is always a good thing to make a step forward. Hopefully, we will make another step on Sunday. Passing was much better, that’s the key to getting the pressure off of them. They put balls away for me in key situations. We need to be able to get our middles in there more. They also picked up balls on our defense which threw Missouri off.”
On Sunday’s match against Arkansas…
“We just have to bring what we brought today, and I think we will get the win. We just have to stay on them, stay intense and keep being aggressive with everything. I think if this happens we will get the job done.
Libero Haley Smith
On the strong start tonight…
“I definitely think we had a lot of positives coming out on the court tonight. The tempo of our offense changed a lot from our matches last weekend which it needed to do. I think our hitters picked different shots, and they knew when to swing. They took better opportunities which was a lot better than last weekend. Everyone did a great job tonight. Our blocking was very disciplined which it almost always is.”
On losing a 17-10 lead the fourth set…
“It is always disappointing when you lose. Again, we have a lot of good things coming out of this match. We need to learn how to stop a run like they had faster. Missouri had a good run at the end, and they had a good game plan. We weren’t able to pull through during the last game.”
On Khourtni returning to the lineup…
“Khourtni Fears gives off a lot of energy, and we get a lot of energy from her. She is very consistent. Khourtni has come a long way from last year. We flow very well when she is on the court. She puts some balls away for us.”