Volleyball Falls at Alabama in SEC Opener
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - The LSU volleyball team was handed a 3-0 defeat by Alabama [25-12, 25-22, 25-16] Friday as 1,670 fans gathered at Foster Auditorium during the SEC opener for both teams.
LSU (4-6, 0-1) had its 11-match winning streak over Alabama (12-1, 1-0 SEC) dating back to the 2006 season come to a close. It marked only the second time since 2004 that the Tigers dropped their SEC opener.
The Crimson Tide connected for a .284 team hitting percentage compared to a .080 hitting clip for LSU. Alabama also held 49-36 and 9-4 advantages in the digs and blocking departments, respectively.
Malorie Pardo distributed 23 assists to go along with three digs, two blocks, two aces and a kill.
"Absolutely, a subpar effort performance for our players," head coach Fran Flory said. "I felt like we had the right game plan. When Meghan went down in our pregame practice, it apparently had a much larger mental impact on our team than I realized. We know Meghan is the heart of our team, and I thought we had some tough players who would step up. Unfortunately, we weren't able to get them in the situations that they felt confident enough to do that."
Kayla Fitterer led the way for Alabama and cranked a match-leading 19 kills on a .436 hitting ratio. She added seven digs and a block for the Crimson Tide.
Andrea McQuaid and Laura Steiner popped nine kills apiece. McQuad also secured nine digs, two blocks and two aces. Sierra Wilson turned in a complete effort with 35 assists, seven digs, three blocks and three kills.
"Fitterer is a good player, and there's no question about that," Flory said. "Unfortunately, our team did the opposite of everything we asked our team to do against her. I'm not sure why. As a coach, we have to evaluate if we're communicating correctly with our players or not."
LSU collected the first three points of the first set as Boyle slapped an ace and Elliott ripped a kill sandwiched between an Alabama attack error. The Tigers maintained the three-point spread at 8-5 on a Fears kill. However, the Crimson Tide strung together the next 12 points aided by five LSU hitting miscues and a trio of aces from Cristina Arenas to secure a 17-8 lead. A block on Jones enabled Alabama to tuck away the opening frame by a 25-12 margin.
The two teams split the first 28 points of the second stanza en route to 12 early ties. Alabama surged ahead 17-14 after consecutive Jones hitting errors. The Tigers got back to within a point on three occasions, the latest at 22-21 after a Boyle kill. Fitterer powered home her eight kill of the set, while Steiner followed with a block and a kill to vault the Crimson Tide to the 25-22 win.
Alabama led wire-to-wire in the third set after jumping out to a 5-0 advantage. Ahead 12-10, the Crimson Tide reeled off 10 of the next 12 points as Fitterer and McQuad teamed up for seven kills to fuel the run. LSU fought off two match points before Steiner cranked a cross-court kill for the 25-16 victory and complete the sweep.
"Certainly, I've taken a lot of responsibility through the season for our schedule," Flory said. "At some point, our players have to step up and be responsible on the court for their jobs. It's frustrating from coaches' perspective, and I'm sure it's frustrating from a player's perspective. We have to get back into the gym and understand what our jobs are."
LSU finishes off its 11-match road swing to start the 2012 season and SEC opening weekend Sunday at South Carolina. First serve is on-tap for 12:30 p.m. CT with a free live audio webcast and live stats available inside the Geaux Zone on 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.
Admission to all 2012 home matches at the Maravich Center are free compliments of the Advocate's "Geaux Free" program.