STARKVILLE, Miss. - Madie Jones powered home a season-high 20 kills as the LSU volleyball team notched a 3-2 comeback victory [25-21, 27-29, 20-25, 26-24, 15-12] over Mississippi State Friday at the Newell-Grissom Building.
LSU (6-8, 2-3 SEC) won its 13th straight decision over Mississippi State (4-9, 0-4 SEC) dating back to the 2005 season and overcame a 2-1 hole for the second consecutive Friday. The match lasted 2 hours and 36 minutes as the two teams accounted for 238 digs.
"What an incredible defensive effort on both sides of the net," head coach Fran Flory said. "Both teams did a great job of staying in there and extending rallies. I thought our team did a great job of responding and having an answer when we needed to have them in critical situations."
Desiree Elliott cranked 17 kills and added seven blocks, while Helen Boyle and Malorie Pardo compiled double-doubles for the third consecutive match. Boyle tallied 13 kills and equaled a career-best with 20 digs, while Pardo distributed 55 assists to go along with a career-high 18 digs.
LSU's back row was fueled by Sam Delahoussaye's career-high 33 scoops. Haley Smith, the reigning SEC Freshman of the Week, picked up 16 digs. Cati Leak totaled 14 digs and tacked on six kills for the Tigers.
Off the bench, Madi Mahaffey ripped five kills on a .444 hitting percentage and chipped a career-best five blocks. Katie Lindelow registered a career-high seven digs and an ace in her two frames of action.
"I thought Katie was the key to the match," Flory said. "She served tough and made big defensive plays when she came in during the fourth and fifth sets. That put pressure on Mississippi State and got them out-of-system. She's struggled with her knee a little bit and has worked extremely hard to get back. It's awfully gratifying to see a player that has worked that hard to not only get a chance but take advantage of that chance the way she did tonight."
Mississippi State was led by Roxanne McVey, who sprawled out for a program single-match record of 50 digs. Offensively, Sarah Temperilli slapped 19 kill to pace the Bulldogs. MSU also received double dips from Chanelle Baker [16 kills and 13 digs], Paris Perret [59 assists and 12 digs] and Taylor Scott [18 kills and 20 digs].
LSU started its comeback late in the fourth set trailing by a 22-19 margin. The Tigers ripped off five of the next six points to grab a 24-23 edge. The run was capped by a Boyle spike sandwiched between a pair of Elliott kills. After a MSU sideout, Elliott put LSU back ahead on another Elliott kill followed by an Elliott-Jones stuff to enable the Tigers to claim the 26-24 triumph.
"You have to credit Desiree for being patient and for understanding that her opportunities weren't great during the early part of the match," Flory said. "She stayed the course and kept moving onto the next play. That's what upperclassmen and all-conference performers are supposed to do. They come through for their teams in the clutch, and that's what Desiree did for us tonight."
The two teams split the first 14 points of the deciding stanza. Boyle and Elliott pieced together kills to give LSU a 9-7 lead. The Bulldogs drew within a point on two occasions, the latest at 12-11. LSU regrouped after a timeout and won three of the final four points to emerge with the 15-12 victory. Jones brought the Tigers home with two kills coupled with a Fears-Mahaffey block. LSU saved its best effort for the last set and ripped 10 kills on a .321 hitting percentage. The Tigers also converted on 9-of-13 sideout attempts.
"Madie is the queen of the fifth set," Flory said. "She understands how to make plays and has a different level of determination. She also has a different level of confidence when we're in the fifth set. Certainly, I'm very thankful for that."
"The fire always comes at the end of the match," Jones said. "I feed off my teammates and their energy. Coach Flory talked about giving a lot of effort, being mentally tough and having a direction. When you work together as a team and you have the final goal in mind, it doesn't matter when the other team makes a big kill. You know how to bounce back and know what you have to do to get that goal."
The early portions of the opening set featured 11 ties and eight lead changes before Mississippi State crept out to a 19-15 advantage. LSU fired back with a 10-2 finishing kick ignited by a Pardo kill. Jones terminated four consecutive balls to turn the tables from a 21-18 deficit to a 22-21 lead. After consecutive Bulldog hitting miscues, Jones and Mahaffey teamed up for a double stuff to vault the Tigers to the 25-21 win.
Set two went nearly to the same script as LSU erased a 22-17 hole and wiped away three clinching points as Boyle, Mahaffey and Jones struck for kills to knot the tally at 24-24. The Tigers had two set points of their own at 26-25 and 27-26. However, Mississippi State reeled off a trio of points sparked by two Baker kills to emerge with the 29-27 decision.
The Bulldogs led wire-to-wire in the third set en route to a 25-20 victory. Tied at 17-17, Mississippi State rode Temperilli to four critical kills and pieced together seven of the final 10 points of the frame. Conversely, LSU's offense was limited to a match-low .125 hitting ratio as Elliott and Jones were bottled up for a combined eight kills on 32 swings.
"There were times where we weren't very discipline, and we were very impatient," Flory said. "During the break in between sets two and three, we told the players to listen and to understand the process. As coaches, our goal is put them in the best position to be successful. We got some great responses, and I thought that changed what Mississippi State was doing on offense."
LSU finishes up the September portion of its schedule Sunday at Arkansas, who is receiving votes in this week's edition of the AVCA Top 25 poll. First serve is set for 1 p.m. and a free live audio webcast is available at LSUsports.net/live. The match also will be televised by CST.