OXFORD, Miss. – Cati Leak cranked a match-leading 20 kills, but the LSU volleyball team was unable to complete its fourth two-set comeback of the season as Ole Miss notched a 3-2 win [23-25, 23-25, 25-20, 25-21, 14-16] on Senior Night Wednesday at the Gillom Center.
LSU (17-12, 7-10 SEC) battled back from a 2-0 hole and erased three match points during the fifth set. However, Ole Miss (14-17, 4-14 SEC) fired back with the final two points to take the 16-14 decision.
The Rebels tallied 71 kills and a .266 hitting percentage compared to 68 kills and a .231 hitting clip for LSU. Ole Miss has won its last two five-set decision with the Tigers.
“This match was very indicative of our season,” head coach Fran Flory said. “We fell behind and got a chance to win after we fought our way back into the match. However, we didn’t have enough inside of us to finish for whatever reason. You have to credit Ole Miss. Those kids played harder than we did, they wanted to win more than we wanted to win and the bottom line is that what the scoreboard indicates at the end of the night.”
The 20 kills was a season’s best for Leak during a SEC match, and it marked the fifth straight match she has powered home double digit kills. She also registered seven digs and five blocks.
Malorie Pardo dished out 55 assists to go along with 12 digs en route to her 18th double-double of the season. She also tacked on four kills on six errorless attempts.
Briana Holman cranked 15 kills on 24 swings and claimed a .417 hitting clip. She added a match-high eight blocks and has tallied 184 total blocks for the season which is the most by a LSU player since Lauren DeGirolamo’s recorded 195 stuffs during the 2007 campaign.
Desiree Elliott chipped in 11 kills on 24 swings and garnered a .333 hitting percentage. The senior middle blocker heads into the final match of the regular season nine spikes away from moving past Regan Hood (2001-04) for 13th place on LSU’s all-time list.
Katie Lindelow and Helen Boyle tacked on seven and six kills, respectively. However, the duo was forced into 13 hitting errors and a .000 hitting percentage on its combined 59 swings. Lindelow and Boyle did tuck away 13 and 12 digs on the back row coupled with a spotless 27-for-27 effort on their reception attempts.
LSU’s Haley Smith registered a match-high 19 digs from the libero postion. She has corralled 10-plus digs in 23 of her 25 starts at libero.
“We didn’t run our offense very well and didn’t make good choices within our offense,” Flory said. “I thought our ball control was fine. We were in-system enough, and we had enough opportunities. Again, we made poor choices and didn’t create very much for our hitters. That’s my job. I’m in charge of Malorie, and I should have done a better job with her. At the same time, she has to take some leadership on the court though those rallies and do a better job as well.”
Nakeyta Clair and Melanie Crow popped 18 kills apiece to lead Ole Miss. Ty Laporte came away with 16 kills and five blocks, while Kellie Goss tacked on career-highs with 10 kills and four blocks on her Senior Night. Aubrey Edie handed out 61 assists and sprawled out for team-high 16 digs.
“After the match, I challenged the players,” Flory said. “Ultimately, it’s their decision. We’ve pushed, pulled, tugged, shoved and done everything we possibly could to point them in the right direction as a coaching staff. We can’t get them to make the right decisions in the right situations. I don’t think they were prepared with this match. I’m disappointed with the outcome. Based on our preparation and how we approached the match, I’m not surprised by the outcome.”
LSU concludes its regular season with a Saturday matinee against Alabama at the Maravich Center. First serve is slated for 1 p.m. and admission is free courtesy of the Advocate’s “Geaux Free” program. Live video and live stats will be available for Geaux Zone subscribers at www.LSUsports.net/live.
Following the match, LSU will pay tribute to Desiree Elliott for “Senior Day” festivities. She will present all of the items donated as part of the “Geaux Kids” initiative and season-long senior class philanthropy project to St. Vincent de Paul. LSU will still collect items ranging from children’s clothes and shoes along with baby supplies and toys during the Alabama match inside the “Geaux Kids” boxes located at the Tiger Fan Zone.
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