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    SEC Volleyball Today: September 8

    volleyBALL RESULTS
    Florida 3, Louisiana 1
    Florida 3, Georgia Tech 1
    Alabama 3, Alabama State 0
    Alabama 3, East Tennessee State 0
    Arkansas 3, Louisiana-Monroe 0
    Missouri 3, Savannah State 0
    LSU 3, Middle Tennessee 0
    Tennessee 3, Boston College 0
    Tennessee 3, Maryland 0
    Auburn 3, SMU 0
    IPFW 3, Georgia 1
    Michigan State 3, Georgia 0
    South Carolina 3, UAB 1
    Ole Miss 3, North Dakota 1
    Texas A&M 3, Columbia 0
    Nebraska 3, Kentucky 1
    LSU 3, Western Michigan 1
    Arkansas 3, UTEP 1
    Alabama 3, ETSU 0

    No. 15 Gator Volleyball Takes Four-Set Victory over Ragin’ Cajuns, 3-1

    GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The No. 15 University of Florida volleyball team (5-2, 0-0 SEC) pulled out a four-set victory over Louisiana’s Ragin’ Cajuns, 3-1 (25-15, 25-14, 23-25, 25-12), on Saturday afternoon to earn their second win of the Active Ankle Challenge at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center.

    Florida freshman Živa Recek (Kočevje, Slovenia) led the way once again for the Gators, tallying her first career double-double with 13 kills and 13 digs against Louisiana, while senior Tangerine Wiggs (Seattle, Wash.) and junior Chloe Mann (Gainesville, Fla.) each put up 10 kills. Wiggs and Mann’s numbers were impressive, as Wiggs hit an errorless .667 and Mann only played in sets one and four, hitting .533.

    The Gators held the Ragin’ Cajuns to a .150 hitting percentage, as the Orange and Blue put up 50 digs, including double-digit digs by Recek and sophomore libero Taylor Unroe (Muncie, Ind.), who scooped a match-high 15. Junior setter Taylor Brauneis (Crystal Lake, Ill.) dished out 36 assists on the afternoon, adding two service aces and a match-high three blocks against UL. Senior Betsy Smith (Atlanta, Ga.) had a solid afternoon, registering seven kills, two blocks and a season-high-tying three digs against Louisiana.

    The teams traded points to open the set before Recek served six straight points to put the Gators ahead, 9-3. A Recek-Mann stuff block extended the Florida lead to 14-6 and an Unroe ace continued the surge, 16-7. Florida took its largest lead of the set off a smart swing to the back left corner by Mann, 21-10. The Gators kept the Ragin’ Cajuns at bay with quick sets to Mann and Mallette and Florida took the first set off a tip to the middle by Mann, 25-15.

    Redshirt freshman Simone Antwi (Fairfax Station, Va.) got things started for the Gators in set two, serving five consecutive points for the Orange and Blue to put Florida ahead, 8-2. A Brauneis-Smith stuff block continued the Gators’ lead, 11-3. Brauneis then put up a dumped kill and an ensuing service ace to go ahead at the halfway mark, 15-6. Florida continued to roll, going up 19-10 on a Monserez service ace to force a Ragin’ Cajun timeout. A Brauneis stuff block at 22-12 put the Gators up by double digits and a Pole service ace ended the set in the Gators’ favor, 25-14.

    The teams traded serve to open the third set with Louisiana taking its first lead of the match at 8-7, but a quick dumped kill by Backlund tied the set at 8 apiece. The Ragin’ Cajuns continued to fight, taking the lead once again 10-9. The Gators took the lead back off a kill by Recek at 12-11 but a Florida hitting error gave the edge back to UL with UF down 14-15. A Ragin’ Cajun hitting error gave Florida the two-point advantage and forced a Louisiana timeout, 17-15. Antwi used three kills to squash the UL surge, 21-19, but the Ragin’ Cajuns weren’t going to go quietly and used a stuff block to tie the set at 22, forcing a Florida timeout. Louisiana set up set point at 24-23 off a kill by Andrea Hole. A Tonice White kill gave the set to the Ragin’ Cajuns, 25-23.

    A Mann-Wiggs roof started the set off strong for the Orange and Blue, and a Wiggs slam inside the UL block put Florida ahead, 6-3. Smith nailed a kill off the slide to put the Gators up, 7-4, and back-to-back Recek kills extended the UF lead, 11-5. Louisiana called timeout after a bullet of a kill by Mallette and a Recek kill down the pipe gave the Gators a 14-5 edge. A cut swing inside the block for Mallette extended the Gator advantage, 19-8, and a Mann overpass kill got the Gators to the double-decade mark, 20-8. A quick set from Brauneis to Mann set up match point for Florida at 24-10 and a Mann kill ended the match, 25-12.

    The Active Ankle Challenge finishes up Saturday evening, as Louisiana plays Jacksonville at 5:30 p.m. and Florida faces Georgia Tech at 7:30 p.m. The Gators’ match airs live on GatorVision and can be heard on GatorZone.com.

    No. 15 Florida Volleyball Named Active Ankle Challenge Champions

    Gainesville, Fla. - The No. 15 University of Florida volleyball team (6-2, 0-0 SEC) battled back from a first-set defeat to beat Georgia Tech (7-2, 0-0 ACC), 3-1 (22-25, 25-15, 25-21, 25-22), claiming their second straight Active Ankle Challenge title on Saturday evening.

    The Gators were led once again by freshman Živa Recek (Kočevje, Slovenia), who was named the MVP of the tournament after notching career highs in kills (23), aces (3) and points (27.0) against Georgia Tech. On the weekend, Recek hit .417 with 49 kills to go along with five service aces for 57.0 points, all team highs. This is the third all-tournament team honor for Recek, who was named to both the Campus USA Credit Union Invitational and the Nike Big Four Classic All-Tournament Teams.

    “Where we are fortunate is that Živa plays nothing like an 18-year-old freshman and she really played well again tonight when we needed her,” Florida head coach Mary Wise said.

    Also honored on the All-Tournament Team for Florida was Tangerine Wiggs (Seattle, Wash.), who tallied 12 kills against the Yellow Jackets along with five blocks on the evening. For the tournament, Wiggs hit .455 with 31 kills and stuffed eight blocks.

    The Orange and Blue were nearly neck-and-neck with Georgia Tech in every aspect of the match except for one: blocking. The Gators had their largest blocking total of the season, stuffing 11.0 total blocks, including 20 block assists to Georgia Tech’s six total blocks. Along with Wiggs, both Chloe Mann (Gainesville, Fla.) and Betsy Smith (Atlanta, Ga.) put up incredible blocking numbers, as Mann had a match-high six blocks along with 11 kills and Smith added five blocks and six kills with just one attacking error.

    “The difference in the match after the first set was our blocking,” Wise said. “Blocking can come in streaks and I think Chloe and Betsy did a really great job anchoring our defense.”

    Junior setter Taylor Brauneis (Crystal Lake, Ill.) narrowly missed a double-double with 47 assists and eight digs, setting the Gators to a .308 hitting clip with nearly every Florida hitter operating above a .330 hitting efficiency. Freshman outside hitter Berkley Whaley (St. Petersburg, Fla.) contributed six kills on the evening to go along with two blocks.

    Florida led early in the first set, 3-1, but Georgia Tech went on a 4-0 run behind the serve of Monique Mead to take an 8-4 lead and force a Gator timeout. The Orange and Blue kept it close, inching within two down 9-7 with an overpass kill by Mann. A Recek kill kept Florida within two but Georgia Tech’s hitters continued to tool the Gator block to pull ahead, 13-9. The Orange and Blue began to chip away at the Yellow Jackets’ lead, using a Brauneis-Mann stuff block to pull within one, 16-15, and force a Georgia Tech timeout.

    A Quinn Evans kill and back-to-back Florida miscues burned a second Gator timeout with UF down 19-15. Florida inched back within four, 22-18, behind a Pole ace and a Smith overpass kill put the Gators within a trey, 23-20. A Wiggs kill down the line forced the Yellow Jackets to use their second timeout of the set, as the Gators moved within two, down 23-21. Wiggs had a big swing from the middle to save a set point at 24-22 but a Mead kill gave Georgia Tech the first set, 25-22.

    “We really responded after the first set,” Wise said. “Monique Mead is a special talent and I’ve been watching her for a long time.”

    The second set was tight out of the gate, but a Recek ace gave the Gators a slight edge, 4-3. Two Whaley kills put Florida up, 9-7, and UF kept the edge early in the set, using a quick set from Brauneis to Mann to pull ahead, 10-8. A Smith-Whaley roof forced Georgia Tech to burn a timeout as Florida extended its lead to three, 13-10.

    Out of the timeout, Recek served up her second ace of the match, 14-10, and as the Gators continued to roll, Mann put up a solo stuff to give Florida a six-point advantage, 17-11. Back-to-back Wiggs kills gave the Gators a 20-13 lead and two straight points off a Mann-Whaley block and a Brauneis service ace put Florida ahead, 22-13. The Gators set up set point off a huge rally and Recek topped off the set with a kill, 25-15.

    The Gators and the Yellow Jackets kept things close early in the third set before Florida went on a 4-0 run behind the serve of Brauneis, 9-5. Kills by Recek and Wiggs extended the Florida lead to five, 11-6. A Smith-Wiggs stuff block kept the momentum in the Gators’ favor at 12-8. Three consecutive Mead kills tied the set at 12-12 and back-to-back service aces by Bailey Hunter tipped the score in Georgia Tech’s favor, 14-12.

    The Gators didn’t let down and continued to push back, tying the set at 18-18 with a slam by Mann in the middle. Florida took back the lead with a Whaley kill through the seam of the block, 19-18, and a Mann-Wiggs stuff block forced Georgia Tech to burn a timeout, 20-18. Back-to-back Mann kills continued the Gator lead, 22-20. Big blocks by Smith-Wiggs and Recek-Smith gave the Gators the two-set lead, 25-21. Florida hit a whopping .519 in the third stanza, its highest hitting efficiency of the night.

    The fourth set was a blocking showcase for the Gators, putting up two stuffs in the opening points to go ahead, 6-3. An impressive defensive play by Unroe caught the Yellow Jackets off guard, allowing Brauneis to dump over on two for the kill, 8-5. The Gators won a big rally, ended by a Recek bump-set to Whaley, 11-6. Georgia Tech came storming back, chipping away at the Florida lead and closing within one, 13-12. Back-to-back kills from Recek out of the Gator timeout, 15-12, and three more slams by Recek continued the Gators’ momentum, 19-14. Georgia Tech took a timeout of their own after a Yellow Jacket hitting error put Florida at the double-decade mark, 20-14. The Ramblin’ Wreck forced a Gator timeout as they went on a 4-1 run to close the gap at 21-18. The teams continued to battle and GT pulled within two, 23-21. A Wiggs kill set up match point, 24-21, and Recek’s career-best 23rd kill of the night came on match point, as Florida took the set, 25-22.

    The Gators went from hitting .150 in the first set to finishing at a .308 hitting clip against the Yellow Jackets. Georgia Tech started out strong, hitting .393 at the outset, but as Florida’s blocking heated up, the Ramblin’ Wreck’s offense cooled off and Georgia Tech’s hitting percentage decreased with each set.

    Florida begins Southeastern Conference play on the road next weekend, as they travel to Arkansas and No. 19 Kentucky for their first true away weekend of the year. The Gators face the Razorbacks at 8 p.m. on Friday, September 14 at Barnhill Arena in Fayetteville, before traveling to Lexington to take on the No. 19 Wildcats at 1 p.m. Both matches can be heard live on ESPN 850/900 in Gainesville or online at GatorZone.com.

    “I think every match is going to be a grind,” Wise commented. “Going on the road on Friday night, that’s a team that truly returns everybody and this is their year. We snuck out last year with a win and then we have to travel to Lexington. That’s not going to be an easy road trip, not in terms of talent or miles (traveled).”






    Alabama Volleyball Now 9-1 After 3-0 Victory Over Alabama State
     
    Tuscaloosa, Ala. – The Alabama volleyball team opened the second day of the Hampton Inn Bama Bash with a 3-0 win over the Alabama State Hornets on Saturday morning. The Crimson Tide was paced by Pricilla Duke-Ezeji who had a match-high 18 kills while hitting .556 against the Hornets.
     
    Alabama, now 9-1 on the season, had a team hitting percentage of .337, while holding Alabama State (0-10) to a .069 hitting mark. The Tide had 51 digs, as Alabama’s Cristina Arenas led all players with 15.
     
    “Today was a little bit of a slow start for us, but it was nice that everybody was able to contribute in the match,” head coach Ed Allen said. “Our focus and ability can continue to grow. What we’re looking for, regardless of who we’re playing, is to execute at a high-level.”
     
    Andrea McQuaid was the only other player to reach double figures in kills for Alabama, and just missed a double-double with 10 kills and nine digs. Middle blocker Kanesha Burch had a perfect hitting day, connecting on all four of her attempts. Mattie Weldy ended the day with six kills on 17 swings.
     
    The Crimson Tide took control of the match early and never looked back. UA posted a .542 hitting percentage en route to a 25-11 victory in the first set. In the second set, Alabama was almost as effective, posting a .412 hitting percentage in a 25-16 win over ASU. The third was a little tougher for UA, which hit .150 in the set. The Tide trailed 12-10 before fighting back to post a 25-18 victory in the third set.
     
    With the three-set win, Alabama is now 12-0 all-time against Alabama State.
     
    Alabama plays its final match of the Hampton Inn Bama Bash against East Tennessee State tonight at 7 p.m., from Foster Auditorium.

    Alabama Goes Unbeaten in Hampton Inn Bama Bash After 3-0 Win Over ETSU

    TUSCALOOSA, ALA. – Alabama posted their ninth straight win of the season with a three-set victory over East Tennessee State in the final match of the Hampton Inn Bama Bash on Saturday night. With the win, the Crimson Tide posted a 4-0 record in the tournament, winning 12 of the 13 sets they played in the two-day event. Alabama is now 10-1 on the season, while ETSU falls to 8-5, after posting a 1-3 record in the tournament.

    “We’re getting balanced and we’re really pleased with Laura Steiner’s performance as a freshman from the outside,” head coach Ed Allen said. “She’s giving us a great deal of consistency and exploiting the block with her offense. Again, Sierra Wilson continues to grow as a leader and quarterback of this team. She still has a long way to go, but she’s in a better place than she was two weeks ago.”

    Laura Steiner, who was named the Hampton Inn Bama Bash Most Valuable Player, led the Tide with a match-high 12 kills. The freshmen outside hitter from Fort Collins, Colo., finished the tournament with 34 kills in the four matches, while averaging 3.40 kills per set played. Steiner had a .358 hitting percentage in the event, after hitting .348 against the Buccaneers.

    Andrea McQuaid and Kayla Fitterer added seven kills each, while Leigh Moyer and Katherine White had four kills each from the middle blocker position. Sierra Wilson had another solid match for the Tide as she had 31 assists, three kills, four digs, two blocks and an ace.

    Wilson and White were named to the all-tournament team as well. Wilson finished the tournament with 157 total assists to average 12.1 assists per set in the four matches.

    Cristina Arenas continued her solid back row play as she led all players in the match with 14 digs. In the Hampton Inn Bama Bash, Arenas tallied 64 digs to average 4.9 digs per set. Kryssi Daniels added eight digs and an ace and finished the tournament with 36 digs (2.8 dps) and eight aces. She leads the team this season with 21 aces in 11 matches.

    “We identified several things that we need to continue to work on,” Allen said. “I thought we had more consistency in most parts of play tonight, except for attacking. We committed a number of attacking errors, particularly hitting into the block, which creates a number of errors.”

    In the opening set, Alabama led wire-to-wire a 3-0 start to open the set. The lead reached as much as nine points when the Tide had a 19-10 advantage, before closing out the set 25-18.

    Although the score of the second set was 25-20, ETSU was never that close as the Tide held as much as an eight-point lead (23-15) towards the end of the set. ETSU made it close, with a late 5-0 run, but a couple kills by Steiner put the set away for a 2-0 lead in the match for UA.

    Alabama got out to another quick start in the third set, leading 6-1 after the break. ETSU as close as three (10-7) before Alabama opened a number of five-point leads in the set. With Alabama holding a 20-15 lead, Wilson served out the set, as the match ended on a kill by Steiner.

    Alabama returns to action on Tuesday, Sept. 11, for its final non-conference match of the season, against the Samford Bulldogs. The match between the two in-state foe will begin at 7 p.m. CT, at Foster Auditorium.






    Arkansas' Fortado posts career high in sweep of ULM
          
    FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The University of Arkansas volleyball team began day two of the Razorback Invitational with a straight-set victory over ULM (25-22, 25-15, 25-10) at Barnhill Arena. Freshman opposite Liz Fortado led all players with a career-high 12 kills and junior setter Raymariely Santos posted her sixth double-double of the season with 26 assists and a match-high 14 digs. The Razorbacks limited ULM to a .010 hitting percentage in Saturday’s match.
                
    “Any time you can win the 11 a.m. match, it’s a good start to the day,” head coach Robert Pulliza said. “It can be tricky especially after playing the 7 p.m. match last night. We did a good job of getting prepared after the match last night and took care of business this morning.”

    The visitors jumped out to an early lead in the first set, winning seven of the first nine points of the match but Arkansas (8-2) began to chip away and pulled even at 13-all on a solo block by Kasey Heckelman. The block came in the middle of a six-point run that saw the Razorbacks take a 15-13 lead. After a quick push by ULM (3-4), the teams traded points until the score was tied again at 21-all. Arkansas won four of the final five points to win the set, 25-21, on a kill by Fortado.
                
    In the second set, the Razorback jumped out to a 6-1 lead and never trailed in the game. After a tandem block by Hayley Koop and Janeliss Torres-Lopez, the home team took a 13-5 lead to force a ULM timeout. Arkansas continued to build on its lead, which reached double figures—22-12—on an attack error by the Warhawks. Fortado once again found the floor on set point to give Arkansas the 2-0 match lead.
                
    The Razorbacks scored six of seven points to take a 10-5 lead after an even start to the third set. Arkansas used a 12-0 run later in the set to put the game and match out of reach. Seven of the 12 points during that run came by way of Warhawk errors. Back-to-back kills from Fortado brought the team to match point and fellow freshman Summer Morgan sealed the win with a kill out of the middle.

    The Razorbacks return to the court Saturday evening for the tournament finale against UTEP. First serve of the matchup is scheduled for 7 p.m. (CT) at Barnhill Arena. The Miners play Houston Baptist in the second match of Saturday’s schedule at the Razorback Invitational.

    General admission at Barnhill Arena is $4 with fans 17 years and younger getting in free. University of Arkansas students attending volleyball matches this season are asked to use the street-level entrance on Stadium Drive. Those students who have their cards swiped will receive 1,500 RazorReward points.

    For match coverage of this weekend’s Razorback Invitational, including interactive blog, live stats and video stream, log on to ArkansasRazorbacks.com. Tonight’s match against UTEP will be broadcast on KXUA 88.3 FM in Fayetteville.






    Mizzou Rebounds to Sweep Savannah State
     
    MOREHEAD, Ky. – The Mizzou volleyball team rebounded from its second loss of the season to defeat Savannah State, 3-0 (25-13, 26-6, 25-11), on Saturday (Sept. 8) as it improves to 8-2 on the season and 2-1 in the Morehead State Eagle Challenge. The win over SSU concludes action for the Tigers at the weekend tournament as they finished as the runner-up after falling to Morehead State in five sets. Junior All-American Lisa Henning (Blue Springs, Mo.) led the Tigers with 11 kills on 16 swings, good for a .688 attack percentage.
     
    Henning was one of two Tigers to land on the All-Tournament Team after averaging 4.55 kills per set on .325 hitting over the three matches. Joining Henning on the All-Tournament team was Molly Kreklow (Delano. Minn.). Looking at the stats from Saturday, Kreklow proved why she is one of the best all-around setters in the nation, assisting on 32 of 40 Tiger kills while posting five kills on five attempts with three digs. Freshman Lydia Ely (St. Louis, Mo.) also had a nice match with seven kills on .545 hitting. As a team, Mizzou hit .493 in the match, which is a season-best and a top-five mark in program history during the rally scoring era.
     
    The Tigers jumped out to a quick lead in the first set and never relinquished it. In fact, the Tigers ran away with the first frame, 25-13. Mizzou had 13 kills on 22 attacks, good for a team hitting percentage of .455 as Little led the way with four kills on just five swings. Wilson and Henning each posted three kills without an error. In fact, freshman Regan Peltier (Nixa, Mo.) had two of the Tigers’ three attack errors in the first as she was playing middle hitter for the first time in her collegiate career.
     
    The Tigers opened the second set in similar fashion as they opened up a 9-4 lead. Little did Savannah State know, but that was about as close as it would get as Mizzou ran away with the set, 25-6, scoring 16 of the final 18 points in the set. Sophomore Melissa Hartsel (Concordia, Kan.) served a 10-0 run for the Tigers midway through the set. Offensively, the Tigers hit .524 in the second set with 13 kills on 21 attacks. Through two sets, Henning had seven kills on 11 errorless attacks. In fact, Mizzou had more kills in the first and second sets alone that SSU had through two sets. SSU was hitting just -.071 at intermission.
     
    Mizzou was equally as impressive in the third, hitting .500 with 14 kills on just 24 attacks as they ran away with the frame, 25-11. The Tigers will be back in action on Wednesday as they welcome No. 16 Tennessee to the Hearnes Center for their SEC opener on ESPNU. The first 500 fans to attend the match will receive a free commemorative t-shirt and there will be plenty of other promotions at the Hearnes Center. For all the latest on Mizzou volleyball, stay tuned to MUTigers.com and follow the team on twitter @MU_Volleyball.






    Balanced Attack Lifts LSU Past Middle Tennessee
     
    CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – Malorie Pardo handed out 30 assists to go along with five digs and three aces as the LSU volleyball team picked up a tightly-contested 3-0 win over Middle Tennessee [25-21, 25-23, 25-23] Saturday to open the final day of the Carolina Classic at Carmichael Arena on the University of North Carolina campus.
     
    “Certainly, we’re very happy to win this match,” head coach Fran Flory said. “I thought our team played extremely hard even though we weren’t very efficient on offense. We still had way too many errors, but we were able to create better swings. You have to credit Middle Tennessee because they dug a lot of balls. I’m proud of our resiliency, the confidence that we showed in what we’re doing and the total effort especially late in tight sets.”
     
    Pardo set a balanced attack, and LSU (3-5) had four hitters register over six kills for the match. The Tigers were limited to a .142 hitting percentage for the match but executed late in sets to earn the sweep. Madie Jones powered home six of her team-leading 12 kills in the third set and added three digs.
     
    Helen Boyle made the most of her 16 attempts. She connected for six kills on a crisp .312 hitting percentage and also recorded eight digs. Desiree Elliott garnered nine kills and two blocks, while Cati Leak charted seven kills, four digs and three blocks.  
     
    “We needed that win in a big way,” Boyle said. “We were a little down after last night. The goal was to come out this morning forget about last night’s loss and move forward. We had to focus more of being ourselves and taking care of our own jobs on the court. The coaching staff told me to swing harder and not worry about where I’m putting the ball.”
     
    Defensively, Khourtni Fears notched four blocks on the front row. Meghan Mannari posted 11 digs to extend her run of double digit scoops to seven consecutive outings. Sam Delahoussaye, who has opened her career with 100 straight match appearances, secured seven digs and an ace.
     
    Middle Tennessee (3-7) was paced by Ashley Adams’ 16 kills and Chelsea Ross’ 13 spikes, respectively. Bri McCombs sparked the Blue Raiders with a match-best 21 digs, and Brandi Waller totaled a match-high six blocks.
     
    The first set was a back-and-forth affair as neither team could gain more than a three-point advantage during the early going. With Middle Tennessee ahead 16-13, LSU turned up the defensive intensity and forced Adams into back-to-back hitting miscues after a Blue Raider service error to deadlock the ledger at 16-16. LSU completed a 7-1 run and took a 20-17 lead of its own fueled by consecutive Pardo aces. Middle Tennessee charged back with three straight kills to knot the score at 20-20, but LSU responded with a strong finishing kick. Delahoussaye slapped an ace followed by a Fears-Leak block on Ross before Leak delivered the final spike to complete the 25-21 win.
     
    The Tigers carried that intensity into set two and built a 14-7 advantage on a Fears-Jones stuff of Ross. LSU maintained the seven-point spread at 21-14, but Middle Tennessee put together a seven-point flurry aided by five Tiger attack errors to even the tally at 21-21. Leak fired back with back-to-back kills, and LSU converted on both of its sideout attempts down the stretch to snatch the 25-23 triumph. Boyle ripped the finishing blow down the line past the Blue Raider block attempt to hand the Tigers a two-set lead.
     
    “We chose to use Helen and Cati at key times during this morning’s match,” Flory said. “It’s nice to have a sophomore and a freshman that you can rely on in clutch situations. For Helen to hit over .300 was above and beyond what I asked her to do. Overall, those two players had great offensive showings.”
     
    LSU turned the tables of the third set with a 9-2 run to reverse a 14-9 deficit into an 18-16 advantage. Elliott sparked the spurt with three kills. Boyle, Leak and Jones tacked on spikes of their own, while Mannari cranked an ace. Middle Tennessee put together a final stand with four straight points to take a 20-18 edge. After a LSU timeout, the Tigers used consecutive Jones kills to ignite another strong finish and draw even at 20-20. At 21-21, Jones popped three more kills coupled with a Ross attack error to complete the sweep and tuck way another 25-23 victory.                                                                       
     
    “Our mentality is the only thing I feel that can hold us back at this time,” Flory said. “I thought we were much better blocking in front of hitters, and our serving was tough enough to get Middle Tennessee out of system. We have to continue to get better, find a consistent rhythm and truly figure out the identity we want to play with. We’re right on the cusp, and there’s no doubt this team is playing hard. The best is yet to come, and I believe it’s right around the corner for this group.”  
     
    LSU finishes the Carolina Classic, and the non-conference portion of its schedule later this afternoon versus Western Michigan. First serve is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. with live audio and live stats available for free inside the Geaux Zone at LSUsports.net.
     



    No. 16 UT Breaks Records, Sweeps BC 3-0

    KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -The 16th-ranked Tennessee Lady Vol volleyball team recorded its second-straight shutout, defeating Boston College, 25-9, 25-11, 25-18, on Saturday at the SpringHill Suites at Arundel Mills Invitational at the University of Maryland. UT posted a .639 hitting percentage in the match, breaking a single-match record that stood for nearly 32 years.

    The Lady Vols (6-2) committed just two attacking errors on 72 attempts with 48 kills to post the .639 clip against the Eagles (5-4). That mark tops the previous record of .607 that was set on Sept. 19, 1980 against Cal State Fullerton. The two attacking errors is a rally scoring era program-best, while the 38 points allowed ranks second in the rally scoring era.

    "I'll be honest, I was very surprised with the efficiency we were able to play with both offensively and defensively against Boston College," said head coach Rob Patrick. "They're a team that really plays hard, good volleyball, has some good outside hitters and can control the ball pretty well. I was very impressed with the way we could take each point separately, play it to our fullest potential and that caused Boston College a lot of problems. I felt we were very organized defensively and did a fantastic job of organizing our block and back row defense. Offensively on our side, we just played so well in terms of not making unforced errors."

    Junior outside hitter Kelsey Robinson led the way with 18 kills, 12 digs and a career-best four solo blocks, marking her sixth-straight double-double. Robinson hit .586 in the match and now has 33 career double-doubles. Senior Leslie Cikra had 10 kills with a career-best .692 attacking percentage and redshirt freshman Mercedes Vaughn posted career-bests in kills (7) and attacking percentage (.875) with no errors. Tennessee also finished the match an impressive 32-of-39 on sideout chances for an 82 percent clip.

    "Kelsey Robinson really keeps us going in a lot of different ways," said Patrick. "She passed the ball fantastic, did a great job of attacking the ball and putting it in spots Boston College wasn't defending and then of course was providing us opportunities in transition with her digging."

    "The recipients of that were Leslie Cikra and Mercedes Vaughn," Patrick said. "Leslie Cikra - in two matches and six sets - has made one hitting error and that has been fantastic. That's something she's worked on very diligently over this preseason and beginning of the year so I'm excited to see all her hard work is seeing positive results. Mercedes Vaughn - someone that we really wanted to get comfortable blocking and defensively - was able to open up our offense by making no errors and still getting seven kills in the match."

    The Lady Vols undoubtedly played their best set of the season to open the match against the Eagles. UT had 17 kills on 23 attempts with no attacking errors for a scorching .739 hitting percentage, by far the highest single-set mark of the campaign. The Big Orange also went 9-for-9 on sideout chances to record a perfect 100 percent in the category. Robinson posted six kills, five digs and three blocks while hitting .667 in the game. UT finished the frame on an 18-5 run to win the set by a 25-9 margin.

    Boston College took a 3-1 lead to start the second, but UT returned to its first-set form to go on a 9-0 run and take a 10-3 lead and went on to win the game, 25-11. Robinson finished with seven kills in the second set, while Vaughn was a perfect 3-for-3 on attacking attempts. After the second set, the Folcroft, Pa., native was 5-for-5 on attacking attempts.

    A Vaughn kill put the Lady Vols up 16-10 midway through the third set, but the Eagles rallied to cut the deficit to 20-18. However, Robinson slammed down a cross-court shot to jump start a 5-0 match-ending run for the Orange & White, which took the game by a 25-18 margin to notch its second consecutive sweep.

    UT's Stephanie Stoll tied a career-best with four kills and set a new career high with a .667 attacking percentage. Sophomore Tiffany Baker added five kills and a .417 hitting clip.

    The Orange & White is back in action tonight at 7:30 p.m. when it battles tournament host Maryland for the tournament crown in the final match of the SpringHill Suites at Arundel Mills Invitational.

    #16 UT Claims Maryland Invitational Title

    COLLEGE PARK, Md. - The No. 16 Lady Vol volleyball team swept tournament host Maryland, 3-0 (25-19, 25-12, 36-34), to complete a perfect 3-0 weekend and claim the SpringHill Suites at Arundel Mills Invitational Title on Saturday night at the Comcast Center Pavilion.

    "It was a very good tournament for us," said head coach Rob Patrick. "We played three very well-coached teams and three teams that really play different styles of volleyball. I thought we did a pretty good job of being organized, keeping our hitters in front of us and we were able to take advantage of that in the first two sets. The third thing I really liked from our team was the way we fought in the third set. Maryland picked up their game to a really high level and we weren't playing as well - which Maryland had a little bit to do with - but we were still able to take it one point at a time and pull that third set out. I was very proud of how they did that."

    Senior right side hitter Leslie Cikra led the Lady Vols (7-2) and was named tournament MVP after posting 19 kills and hitting .692 against the Terps (5-4). For the tournament, Cikra committed just two errors on 56 attempts and put down 42 kills for a blazing .714 attacking percentage.

    "We wanted Leslie to become a more efficient hitter," said Patrick. "Not so much that she needed to get more kills, but just take care of the balls she used to make errors on. Incredibly, she made some changes from our practices and was able to bring that into the match. I think she had two hitting errors the entire tournament. My hat's off to her because she really put in the time to do that. She played a complete game and I was very proud and happy for her."

    As a team, UT hit .422 over the three matches.

    Junior outside hitter Kelsey Robinson and Mary Pollmiller were both named to the all-tournament team. Robinson had 18 kills and 11 digs, marking her seventh-consecutive double-double, while Pollmiller dished out an even 50 assists against the Terrapins. Robinson had 36 kills in six sets for an even 6.0 kills per set average and hit .384 for the event with 23 digs. Pollmiller finished the event with 121 assists for a 13.4 assist per set average.

    "Mary and Kelsey have been two mainstays of our team," Patrick said. "They have a huge impact on how are team is going to go. Kelsey - in all phases of the game - really is the engine that drives us. From her serving to her passing and to her defense, you can see her digs and kills on the stat sheet and just how much of an impact she really has. Mary has been doing a wonderful job of running the offense. Keeping everyone involved and spreading the ball around. Not only doing that, but giving each hitter the type of set that each individual likes is something that just comes from experience. She's really put her time in. I'm happy for all of them to be recognized at this tournament."

    Sophomore Tiffany Baker added 15 kills and hit .414 against the Terps. The outside hitter hit .426 on the tournament and had 30 kills. Junior libero Ellen Mullins led the tournament field with 38 digs and 4.22 scoops per set average. She had 22 against Maryland.

    The opening set went back and forth to start, but the Lady Vols broke it open with a 5-0 run to go up 9-6 on the Terps. Later in the frame, UT went on a quick 3-0 run to force a Maryland timeout and extended the streak to four-straight points with a Robinson kill to go ahead 18-14. Shortly after, she followed with a block and kill in quick succession to put the Big Orange up 22-17. Tennessee went on to win the game by a 25-19 margin. Robinson had five kills in the first set, while Cikra added six for the Orange & White.

    Tennessee opened the second set on a 7-1 run and never looked back as it cruised to a 25-12 victory. Cikra added six more kills in the second set and continued her efficient hitting, committing no errors to bring her match hitting percentage to .923. Mullins was all over the court in the opening two sets, heading into the break with a match-high 15 scoops.

    The third set was an absolute battle as the Terps would not go down without a fight. The set consisted of 22 ties and 10 lead changes and the Lady Vols fought off an impressive seven Maryland set-point opportunities in the game. Level at 34-34, Robinson placed one kill down the line and slammed another cross-court to clinch the 36-34 victory for the Orange & White.

    Tennessee begins its Southeastern Conference title defense on Wednesday night, when it travels to Columbia, Mo., for an 8 p.m. ET matchup against one of the SEC's newest teams, the Missouri Tigers. The match will be broadcast live on ESPNU.

     




    Bullock Records 1,000th Career Kill as Auburn Sweeps SMU
     
    DALLAS – Auburn senior Sarah Bullock recorded her 1,000th career kill, and the Tiger volleyball team got back on the winning track Saturday afternoon with a 3-0 victory (25-20, 25-18, 25-17) over tournament host SMU in the final match of the Doubletree Classic at Moody Coliseum.
     
    Bullock, a native of nearby Allen, Texas, became the 13th all-time member of Auburn’s 1,000-kill club and the first since Jessica Glover reached the milestone during the 2008 season. She recorded the milestone kill in the first set on a play that tied the score after Auburn found itself in an early six-point hole.
     
    “It feels amazing, especially since it was in my hometown and against one of the girls I played with on my club team,” Bullock said. “I had a lot of family and friends here, a tremendous amount of support, and it feels awesome. And now I can forget about it, play my game and relax.”
     
    She also is on track to become just the fifth player in school history with 1,000 kills and 1,000 digs in a career; after nine kills and a team-high 15 digs today, she now has 1,007 career kills and 951 digs.
     
    “Sarah is a very important part of our team, and it’s a special thing for her to be here in Dallas to get (her 1,000th kill),” Auburn head coach Rick Nold said. “She had a lot of fans in the stands. We rely a lot on her for obvious reasons, and she did a great job for us all weekend.”
     
    Auburn (9-1) showed strong resolve in today’s match, bouncing back from its first loss of the season on Friday by fighting back from early deficits in the first two sets. The Tigers also earned their second all-time win over SMU (2-7), evening the all-time series at two wins apiece.
     
    The Tigers also matched the best 10-match start in school history; the 1990 team is the only other squad in program annals to post a 9-1 record over its first 10 contests.
     
    “I thought we were pretty consistent the whole way through,” Nold said. “About halfway through game one, we turned up our intensity. We keep talking about the level we want to play, and once we got it turned up, we played the whole match that way.”
     
    The Tigers controlled the play at the net, putting down a season-high 12 blocks to account for 12 of SMU’s 19 hitting errors on the day. As a result, the Tigers out-hit the Mustangs .327 to .124. Auburn had 42 kills to SMU’s 33 and played strong defense with 53 digs to SMU’s 36.
     
    Bullock was joined by Chloe Rowand and Camila Jersonsky, all with nine kills, to share the team lead. Jersonsky also contributed a season-high seven blocks while Rowand matched her career-best with six. Courtney McDonald recorded four blocks along with five kills, and Katherine Culwell had seven kills, 10 digs and two blocks in her final match of the weekend in her hometown. Junior libero Sarah Wroblicky tied Bullock for the team lead with 15 digs.
     
    “Not just today, but the whole weekend, we blocked as well as we have all year,” Nold said.  “(Assistant coaches ) Kris (Grunwald) and Eysha (Ambler) have been working on some different things, and that work showed up today.”
     
    The Tigers struggled in the early-going of the opening set as SMU ran out to a 15-11 lead. Poor serving from both teams was an issue as each team committed four errors. But the Tigers erased a 19-13 deficit, finishing the set on a 13-1 run to give Auburn a 25-20 first-set win. Bullock’s second kill of the match, number 1,000 for her career, tied the score at 19-19, and her next one gave Auburn its first lead since the first point of the match. Kills from McDonald and Rowand, along with an ace from Wroblicky, put the Mustangs away in the first.
     
    Auburn again erased an early deficit in set two, but a much more manageable one as SMU jumped out to a quick 5-2 lead. After Auburn took the lead and saw SMU tie the score at 9-9, the Tigers would never trail again after a 4-0 run to make it 13-9 and force a Mustang timeout. The Tigers then took advantage of three SMU errors, along with a kill from McDonald, to make it 19-15. From there, kills from Wintzinger, Bullock, Jersonsky and Kearney, along with two more SMU errors, gave Auburn the second-set win at 25-18. Auburn hit .267 in the second set and held SMU to a flat .000 mark (9 kills, 9 errors).
     
    The third set, however, belonged to Auburn almost the whole way as the Tigers finished off the win with a 25-17 score. The Tigers went on an 8-0 run to take a 15-8 lead, forcing two SMU timeouts, and kept up the pressure as SMU struggled to come back. Auburn had four blocks in the final set, holding the Mustangs to .111 hitting.
     
    Auburn will kick off Southeastern Conference play next weekend on the road. The Tigers will travel to Starkville, Miss., to face Mississippi State at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 14, before making their first trip to new SEC member Texas A&M for a 1 p.m. Sunday contest.
     



    Georgia Volleyball Comes Up Short Against IPFW, Michigan State


    EAST LANSING, Mich. – The University of Georgia volleyball team fell short against the IPFW Mastodons 3-1 (21-15, 25-23, 16-23, 16-25) and the Michigan State Spartans 3-0 (17-25, 17-25, 18-25) on the final day of the Auto Owners Insurance Spartan Invitational in East Lansing, Mich. The Bulldogs are now 6-3 on the season.

    “We faced two tough teams today and we have to give a lot of credit to their discipline and their fight,” head coach Lizzy Stemke said. “The positives from today are we did not get outplayed, fought from point one and really competed hard. We were pushed today and were challenged and we fought. We made some errors at some critical times, but we competed and that was good to see, especially against two really tough teams. After three weeks of competition and heading into SEC play, we have a better idea of how our team works together and we have new goals for the week ahead in practice.”

    For her efforts on the weekend, Kaylee Kehoe was named to the all-tournament team. Kehoe finished the weekend with 83 assists, including a season-best 34 against IPFW. She also posted five kills, two service aces and one block.


    Michigan State 3, Georgia 0
    The University of Georgia volleyball team fell 3-0 (17-25, 17-25, 18-25) to Michigan State, which is receiving votes in the latest AVCA Coaches Poll, in the final match of the weekend.

    Tirah Le’au led the way for the Bulldogs, posting 13 kills and hitting at a .385 clip. It is the fifth-straight game that the sophomore either led or tied for the team lead in kills and the fourth-straight where she has earned double-digit kills. Kehoe paced the Bulldog offense with 23 assists and added two service aces. Briana Bahr and Jasmine Eatmon each finished with two blocks to lead Georgia defensively.

    Georgia trailed 6-4 early in the first set before Bahr and Eatmon combined for four-straight points to take an 8-6 lead. The teams then tied four times before a 3-0 run put the Spartans up 14-11. Kehoe recorded an ace that cut the Spartan lead to three at 17-14, but Michigan State scored four-straight to take a 21-14 lead. Bahr looked to spark the Georgia offense will a kill late in the set, but the Spartans scored the final two points to seal set one 25-17.

    The Bulldogs struck first in set two, taking a 5-4 lead before Michigan State scored four consecutive points to take an 8-5 lead. A kill by Elena Perri cut the Spartan lead to two at 9-7, but the Spartans answered with six-straight points to extend their lead to 15-7 before Tirah Le’au ended the run with a kill. Despite a solid effort, the Bulldogs were unable to close the gap, falling 25-17 in the second set.

    The Spartans took an early 4-0 lead in the third set, before Le’au got the Bulldogs on the board, bringing the score to 4-1. Michigan State answered by scoring three of the next four points to extend its lead to 7-2 and force a Georgia timeout. The Bulldogs found some offensive rhythm, cutting the Spartan lead to two at 13-11. A pair of Buckendahl kills brought the Bulldogs within one at 15-14, but Michigan State scored seven of the final eight points to take the set 25-18 and the match 3-0.

    IPFW 3, Georgia 1           
    Le’au led the team with 19 kills against the IPFW Mastodons, but it was not enough as the Bulldogs fell 3-1 (21-25, 25-23, 16-25, 26-28) in the Auto Owners Insurance Spartan Invitational in East Lansing, Mich.

    Bahr had a career-day, posting a career-best 17 kills, while Chloe Buckendahl earned her third-straight double-double, finishing with 12 kills and 21 digs. Eatmon finished with a team-best five blocks, with Lauren Teknipp adding three blocks.

    Georgia and IPFW went point for point for much of the opening set, tying 16 times before the Bulldogs took an 18-16 lead on kills by Buckendahl and Eatmon.  A Le’au kill gave Georgia a 21-18 lead, but IPFW scored the final seven points to take the first set 25-21.

    The Bulldogs rebounded for a 25-23 win in set two. A Buckendahl kill put Georgia up 5-2 and forced IPFW to call an early timeout. The Mastodons tied the set at seven, before Le’au tallied three kills in a 4-0 run that extended Georgia’s lead to 11-7. Bahr made it a five-point game with a kill that brought the score to 15-10. IPFW fought back into the match with three-straight points that made it a 17-16 game. The teams tied four times before a solo block by Buckendahl put Georgia up by two at 23-21. Buckendahl sealed the 25-23 win with a kill.

    Georgia and IPFW kept it close in the early part of the third set, trading points until a Mastodon block put IPFW up two at 10-8. IPFW held on to the lead for the remainder of the set, winning it 25-16.

    The fourth and final set started the same as the first three, with the teams tying three times before a Mastodon error sparked a 3-0 Georgia run that put the Bulldogs up 12-9. Georgia strung together four-straight points to take an 18-14 lead, before IPFW tied the set at 19. The teams traded points, tying six times before the Mastodons scored three of the last four points to take the set 28-26 and the match 3-1.

    Georgia continues its road swing next weekend as it enters Southeastern Conference play, taking on South Carolina on Friday at 7 p.m., and Mississippi State at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday.
     




    South Carolina Takes Down UAB in Four Sets

    COLUMBIA, S.C. - The South Carolina Gamecocks (10-0) kept their undefeated record in tact with a four-set win over UAB (5-5), 23-25, 25-22, 25-21, 26-24, on Saturday in the Volleyball Competition Facility.

    Redshirt sophomore Cara Howley posted a career-best 17 kills on a .429 hitting percentage while she tied two other Gamecocks with three block assists. Junior outside hitter Juliette Thévenin posted 20 kills and 13 digs in the win, leading the Gamecocks in kills. Freshman middle blocker Darian Dozier also had three block assists while making a season-best 10 kills. Senior setter Taylor Bruns dished out 54 assists, landed eight kills and made eight digs, and redshirt freshman outside hitter Christina Vereb posted eight kills and three block assists. Junior libero Paige Wheeler compiled 21 digs, leading all players, and added a career-best seven assists, while senior Christina Glover added 10 digs.

    Sam Serley led UAB with 19 kills on a .708 hitting percentage and four blocks. Ally Slaughter added 2 kills and nine digs, while Michele Simmons contributed 10 kills. Rachel Fairbanks had 18 digs.

    Both teams looked a little slow in the first set, a 25-23 Blazer win. UAB started with a five-point run, but the Gamecocks fought back, tying it at 9-9 on a four-point stand that included kills from sophomore outside hitter Bethanie Thomas, Bruns and Thévenin. UAB went back on the attack, growing the lead back to five at 20-15 after a three-point stand helped by two Gamecock errors. South Carolina drew within one when Howley put one away on an overpass, but the Blazers clinched it three points later on Sam Skinner's fourth kill of the set. Serley was 7-for-7 on swings in the first, helping UAB to a .444 hitting percentage, while Fairbanks had six digs.
     
    The second set started like the first with UAB owning a 5-1 lead, but the Gamecocks had a seven-point skein to take control of the set, 12-7. The Blazers would only get as close as two points the rest of the way, as South Carolina started to get its offense going, posting a .306 hitting percentage in the set. Bruns ended the frame with her fifth kill on eight tries. Wheeler made 11 of her digs in the set, and Howley joined Bruns with an errorless hitting second set, landing four kills.

    UAB held a 3-0 lead in the third after a Slaughter ace, but it would be the last lead that large until the end of the frame. A South Carolina four-point string swung the momentum to the Gamecocks at 14-12, but the Blazers would tie it not long after at 16-16, one of 10 ties in the third. A Dozier kill sparked a three-point streak for the Gamecocks that put them up 23-20. Howley ended the set with consecutive kills, giving her six in the frame. The Gamecocks hit .444 in the third, with Thévenin making seven kills to lead the way. Both Dozier and Vereb had errorless sets, making three and four kills, respectively.

    The fourth set came down to the wire, as UAB had the first chance at set point at 24-23. Howley helped fight that off with a kill, tying the frame at 24-24. Two Blazer attack errors gave the Gamecocks the 26-24 match-clinching win in the fourth. Thévenin had seven more kills in the frame, while Thomas had four on nine swings without an error. Glover made seven digs.

    South Carolina won the kills (68-63), assists (66-58) and digs (61-54) categories, while UAB held narrow advantages in blocks (8-7) and aces (3-2). The Gamecocks only made three service errors in the contest.

    The Gamecocks close out the Carolina Clash at 7:30 p.m. against Winthrop in the Volleyball Competition Facility.
     



    Rebels Top North Dakota En Route To Magnolia Invitational Championship
     
    OXFORD, Miss. – The Ole Miss Rebels volleyball team won its sixth straight Magnolia Invitational Championship, and seventh overall, with a 3-1 (25-18, 21-25, 25-23, 25-15) victory over North Dakota (4-6) on Saturday afternoon at the Gillom Sports Center.
     
    “It’s not a perfect game by any stretch,” Ole Miss head coach Joe Getzin said. “We grew up as a team a little bit. It’s great to be at home. Hopefully this has helped us take a step forward and get ready for (Southeastern Conference) play.”
     
    The Rebels were led Saturday, as they were all tournament, by the play of senior setter Amanda Philpot. The Cincinnati, Ohio, native, who was named tournament MVP following the match, had a season-high 47 assists to go with her 13 digs and six kills.
     
    Joining Philpot on the All-Tournament team for Ole Miss was senior right side hitter Allegra Wells and junior outside hitter Kara Morgan.
     
    “Our kids feel comfortable playing on this court,” said Getzin about the Gillom Center. “The crowd is always helpful and I thought we executed very well.”
     
    Morgan led Ole Miss offensively with a team-high 15 kills to go with her 10 digs. It was the fourth double-double of the season for Morgan.
     
    Wells had 14 kills for the Rebels on a .560 attacking clip. Freshman middle blocker Ty Laporte had a season-high 10 kills against UND.
     
    The Rebels opened play at the Magnolia Invitational with a 3-0 victory over Alabama A&M. In its second match, Ole Miss defeated Rice by a count of 3-0 in a very exciting and intense matchup.
     
    The Rebels will play again Friday at 6:30 p.m. CT when they open up conference play at Texas A&M in College Station, Texas. Ole Miss will then head to Columbia, Mo., to face the Missouri Tigers on Sunday at 1:30 p.m. CT.

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    Texas A&M Defeats Columbia to Win Delaware Invitational
     
    NEWARK, Del. – Texas A&M senior Alisia Kastmo had a career-high 21 kills to lead the Aggies to a 25-20, 25-19, 25-15 victory over Columbia and the Delaware Invitational title.
     
    It marks the seventh consecutive victory for the Aggies, who captured their second consecutive tournament championship after going 3-0 against the tournament field. In addition, A&M closes out non-conference play with an 8-1 record and now focuses on playing its first-ever Southeastern Conference match as the Aggies play host to Ole Miss on Friday at Reed Arena. First serve will be at 6:30 p.m.
     
    A&M never trailed in the opening set against Columbia, although the Lions tied the score four times, the last coming at 14-14. Kastmo then posted two of her six first-set kills during a 4-0 run that put the Aggies ahead, 18-14. A&M, which outhit the Lions, .424 to .029 in the frame, later scored three unanswered points to go up 24-17 with senior outside hitter Tori Mellinger getting the kill to put the Aggies at set point. Three consecutive attack errors by A&M put Columbia within 24-20 before setter Allie Sawatzky won a joust at the net to clinch the winning point for the Aggies.
     
    A&M spotted Columbia a 4-0 lead to open the second set as the Aggies committed four consecutive hitting errors. The Lions went on to build their largest lead at 6-1 before the Aggies surged, reeling off six consecutive points to seize their first lead in the stanza. Columbia would tie the score at 7-7 before A&M began to pull away, building a 15-10 advantage.
     
    A&M maintained the five-point advantage at 17-12 before Columbia reeled off five unanswered points to tie the score. The Lions were unable to regain the lead, however, as freshman middle blocker Shelby Sullivan put down a kill, which began a 5-0 run for the Aggies.
     
    Kastmo later blasted her 11th kill of the set to put the Aggies up 24-19. Columbia then committed an attack error to close out the 25-19 win and give the Aggies a 2-0 lead in the match.
     
    Columbia scored the first two points of the third set, but it would be the only lead the Lions would hold as freshman Angela Lowak got a kill to start the scoring for the Aggies. Lindsey Miller and Mellinger followed with back-to-back kills to give the Aggies a lead they would not lose.
     
    A&M held a 9-7 lead when Kastmo put down a kill against a triple block. Kelsey Kinley followed with an ace, and Kastmo and Miller then teamed for a block to put A&M ahead, 12-7. The Lions got within 13-10 before a Kastmo kill started a 4-0 run. The Aggies held onto a 19-15 lead when Mellinger notched her 12th kill of the game to return serve to A&M. Sawatzky then served out the set, posting two aces during a 6-0 run that was capped by Sullivan’s match-winning kill.
     
    Mellinger and Kastmo both completed double-doubles, as Mellinger led the Aggies with 19 digs and Kastmo finished with 10 digs. Sawatzky also registered a double-double with 33 assists and 11 digs, and Pendergast posted double-digit digs with 17.
     
    Columbia’s leading player had only six kills as A&M posted 49 kills to Columbia’s 23 and outhit the Lions .214 to .077.

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    Top-Ranked Nebraska Survives Kentucky in Four

    LINCOLN, Neb. – In perhaps top-ranked Nebraska’s stiffest competition since facing UCLA in the opening weekend of action, the Huskers survived a scare from No. 19 Kentucky with a 3-1 (25-19, 23-25, 25-22, 25-22) win on Saturday afternoon in the final night of the Ameritas Players Challenge in Lincoln, Neb. UK’s senior Ashley Frazier was simply terrific in the loss for the Wildcats with 20 kills on a sizzling .459 hitting percentage. It is just her second 20-kill performance in the Blue and White.

    With the loss, Kentucky falls to 6-4 on the season and the No. 1 Huskers move to an unblemished 8-0 mark. Tonight’s match concludes non-conference action for Kentucky this season as UK will next be in action on Sunday, Sept. 16 at 1 p.m. vs. Southeastern Conference rival Florida.

    “I was pleased with the way our team responded tonight after last night’s match against Oklahoma,” UK coach Craig Skinner said. “Nebraska had a knack for making big-time plays at the ends of sets tonight.

    “We have some good players on this team and it has taken a little while during preconference to smooth some things out with some new people in the lineup,” Skinner said. “I saw some fire tonight that we need to sustain going into SEC play.”

    Freshman Morgan Bergren contributed her first career double-double effort with 47 assists and 10 digs ina hostile environment. She added four kills and a team-high five blocks as well.

    Junior Whitney Billings was the other UK attacker to reach double-figures with 12 kills while adding four blocks and five digs. Junior Alexandra Morgan had four kills and a team-high matching five blocks. Freshman Sara Schwarzwalder also had a team-best five blocks while also adding eight kills on .333 hitting. Sophomore Lauren O’Conner had seven kills and a pair of blocks for UK.

    Senior Stephanie Klefot had a team-high 13 digs and also had four assists. Sophomore Jackie Napper contributed her second-consecutive double-figure dig effort with 10 scoops today.

    The match was evenly contested with all four sets determined over the final stretches of the stanzas. Both teams topped 55 kills for the match, while both squads had 13 blocks.

    Nebraska opened the match by claiming a 25-19 set win. Both teams laid down 16 kills apiece with the teams logging above .300 hitting clips. Frazier led the way for the Wildcats with six hammers on .600 hitting.

    Kentucky earned an early three-point edge, but the Huskers fired back to knot the score at 11. The home squad immediately took the lead on the next point and never trailed again the rest of the way.

    UK answered the call with a 25-23 second set win to tie the match at one set each going into the break. UK had 11 kills on .250 hitting, but had six blocks to separate from the Huskers. Schwarzwalder had four rejections in the frame.

    Nebraska took a turn grabbing the early lead in the second stanza and maintained that edge until UK knotted the score at 21 on a mishit from the Huskers. After Nebraska reclaimed the lead on the next point, Kentucky scored the next two on kills from Billings and Frazier. The score became tied again at 23 before the Wildcats scored the final two points of the set. Billings and Frazier again teamed up for back-to-back hammers to give the Wildcats the win.

    The squads again provided 4,163 fans with quite a performance in the third set as the teams had near identical stats. UK laid down 16 kills on .406 hitting with two blocks. Nebraska conversely had 17 kills on .405 hitting and one block.

    Kentucky had an early advantage in the set, but the Huskers fired back to tie the score at 19. The home team would then score six of the final nine points for the win.

    Nebraska again outlasted the Wildcats in another wild finish in the fourth frame. The Huskers posted 15 kills on .265 hitting with six blocks. UK, however, had 12 kills on .111 hitting with just three blocks in the fourth.

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    LSU Volleyball Turns in Season’s Best Performance; Dumps Western Michigan

    CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – The LSU volleyball team dominated in all facets of the game en route to a 3-1 victory over Western Michigan [22-25, 25-15, 25-17, 25-15] Saturday to conclude the Carolina Classic at Carmichael Arena on the University of the North Carolina campus.

    LSU (4-5) picked up back-to-back wins for the first time on the young 2012 season. The Tigers ripped a season’s best .311 hitting percentage, connected for a season-high 10 aces, executed at a 71 percent sideout efficiency, held a 68-52 dig advantage and outblocked Western Michigan by an 11-3 margin.

    “It’s an amazing performance in a lot of facets of the game,” head coach Fran Flory said. “I thought Malorie was able to settle in and set a nice offensive tempo. That allowed our hitters to hit all of their shots and hit the ball with authority. We’ve been waiting for this type of performance. Thanks goodness we got it before we start SEC play next week. I said earlier today that ‘the best was yet to come for this group’ and hopefully it was going to be tonight. It was tonight, and we look to build on it going forward.”

    Malorie Pardo handed out a season-best 53 assists to go along with seven digs, three blocks and two blocks. She fueled a quartet of hitters to their best outputs of the season.

    Desiree Elliott buried 19 kills on a .389 hitting clip and added four blocks. Madie Jones ripped 13 kills on a .345 hitting ratio and tacked on three blocks. The Tigers improved to 3-0 when Elliott and Jones knock 10 or more kills during the same match.   

    Helen Boyle fell just shy of a double-double. She worked her way to nine kills, 12 digs and two aces. Khourtni Fears equaled a career-best eight kills on a blistering career-high .636 attack percentage. She also matched a career-best six blocks. Cati Leak notched eight kills, nine digs and two blocks.

    “That’s an outstanding effort from Khourtni, and we’ve worked really hard with her,” Flory said. “We’ve told her she has to go hard, go physical and that she can play above these teams. Malorie hasn’t been comfortable getting her the ball at times. I call the offense, and I made the decision to force the ball to Khourtni in certain situations. There are not a lot of players who get as high as Khourtni can.”

    On the back row, Meghan Mannari reeled in 16 digs and pounded four aces. It marked the eighth straight match that Mannari has reached the double figure scoops plateau. Sam Delahoussaye registered a season’s best 13 digs, while Haley Smith garnered four digs.  

    Western Michigan (5-4) was led by Carlee Berland’s 14 kills, Terrin Norris’ 41 assists and Lena Oliver’s 16 digs. Ali Gossen chipped in nine kills and 11 digs for the Broncos.

    “The way we played during Friday’s loss to North Carolina was unacceptable,” Elliott said. “They are a good team. We came in with the mindset today expecting to work hard. After starting slow, we knew we needed to play with more intensity and more fire. The game comes a lot easier to us when we listen and execute what the coaching staff tells us. Everybody played a huge role and did their job. Those are my favorite types of wins.”  

    Trailing 16-14 in set one, LSU collected six consecutive points to turn the tables and snatch a 20-16 advantage. Boyle and Elliott powered home two kills, while Mannari smacked a pair of aces. Western Michigan answered with nine of the final 11 points of the stanza to claim a 25-22 decision. Gossen paved the way for the Broncos with three kills during the run.

    “There’s no question the fight that we showed in this match from an offensive standpoint,” Flory said. “We fought very hard defensively throughout our entire non-conference schedule. I have to give a ton of credit to our assistant coach Jill Lytle Wilson who really challenged this team after we lost that first set when we probably should have taken care of business. The response this team had to her was amazing. Without that, I don’t know if we do bounce back. The challenge was there, and the players did an excellent job of answering the challenge.”

    LSU bounced back in a big way and fired out to an 8-2 edge to open up the second set. Jones and Boyle sparked the run with two kills and two aces, respectively. Western Michigan trimmed the LSU lead down to 12-9, but the Tigers racked up seven consecutive points to regain the momentum. Boyle and Elliott teamed for five quick kills. LSU never looked back and finished off the 25-15 triumph with a Fears kill.

    The pivotal set three started with the two teams splitting the first 34 points. Neither team grabbed more than a two-point spread. LSU finished the frame in style with eight straight points to grab the 25-17 win. After a Western Michigan service error ignited the spurt, LSU’s defense forced the Broncos into a trio of hitting miscues coupled with two Elliott kills and a Mannari ace.

    LSU clicked on all cylinders during the fourth set. The Tigers banged home 15 kills on a match-best .481 hitting percentage and converted on 15-of-16 sideout attempts. LSU led wire-to-wire as Elliott and Leak combined for nine of the 15 kills. Ahead 8-7, the Tigers pieced together seven of the next nine points to push their advantage to 15-9. LSU capped the run with consecutive blocks involving Fears. Western Michigan would get as close as 15-11 before the Tigers ripped off five straight points and ran away with the 25-15 decision.

    LSU moves into SEC action Friday at Alabama. First serve is on-tap for 7 p.m. from Foster Auditorium with live audio and live stats available for free inside the Geaux Zone at LSUsports.net.

    “Our players are excited to start SEC play,” Flory said. “Everywhere we play is a battle, and road wins are hard to come by in this conference. Getting road wins are what determine SEC Western Division titles and SEC championships. We want to get off on the right track Friday at Alabama, and we know we’ll get their best shot.”

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    Non-conference slate ends with tournament title

    FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – In its final match before the start of conference play, the University of Arkansas volleyball team defeated UTEP in four sets (28-26, 25-22, 16-25, 25-17) Saturday evening to win the Razorback Invitational title. Following the match, Raymariely Santos was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player and Emily Helm earned Outstanding Libero honors. Liz Fortado and Janeliss Torres-Lopez were selected to the all-tournament team.
               
    Santos finished the match with 44 assists and 10 digs for her third double-double of the weekend and seventh of the season. She added four kills and four total blocks to her night’s work. Jasmine Norton had a team-high 14 kills while Torres-Lopez tallied 12 kills on a .632 hitting percentage against the Miners. Helm equaled the match high with 18 digs.
               
    “We had a good win tonight,” head coach Robert Pulliza said. “Three wins in one weekend is not easy, especially against a UTEP team that is doing really good things. I think they’re going to have a good year and feel fortunate to have gotten out with a win today. It was a great team effort today.”
               
    UTEP (4-5) jumped out to an early 5-1 lead in the first set but Arkansas (9-2) began to chip away and eventually tied the score at 13-all on a Miners’ attack error. In a set marked by sideouts and back-and-forth play, the opening game was tied 13 times. The Razorbacks fought off three set points, the last with an overpass kill by Hayley Koop. The final two kills of the set came off the hand of Norton to clinch the set, 28-26.
               
    Arkansas controlled the opening stages of play in the second set, using a tandem block from Norton and Torres-Lopez to take a 10-6 lead and force a UTEP timeout. The visitors pulled even at 14-all but the Razorbacks re-established their lead at 19-15 after an attack effort from UTEP. Arkansas maintained its advantage and on the team’s second chance to close out the set, Santos tallied a second-contact kill.
               
    In the third set, the home team won seven of the first 10 points but the Miners responded and evened the score at 12-all with a block from Xitlali Herrera and Malia Patterson. The block started a four-point spurt for UTEP in which they took the lead for good behind an overall 8-1 run. The Miners, who hit .455 in the third, went on to win the game, 25-16.
               
    The two teams exchanged points to begin the fourth set and were tied at 10-10 after a Razorback attack error. UTEP returned the favor with an error from the service line and Arkansas took the lead, 11-10. The home team never trailed after that point. Arkansas’ lead hit five—19-14—after Fortado and Torres-Lopez teamed up for a block. The Razorbacks won the final three points of the match, clinching the win with another Miner miscue.
               
    “It’s good that we’re going into SEC play with a good win this weekend,” Santos said. “How we come out to practice Monday is going to be very important because that’s going to lead us into how we play next Friday against Florida. I feel like we’re in a really good position right now.”

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    Alabama Volleyball Goes Unbeaten in Hampton Inn Bama Bash After 3-0 Win Over ETSU

    TUSCALOOSA, ALA. – Alabama posted their ninth straight win of the season with a three-set victory over East Tennessee State in the final match of the Hampton Inn Bama Bash on Saturday night. With the win, the Crimson Tide posted a 4-0 record in the tournament, winning 12 of the 13 sets they played in the two-day event. Alabama is now 10-1 on the season, while ETSU falls to 8-5, after posting a 1-3 record in the tournament.

    “We’re getting balanced and we’re really pleased with Laura Steiner’s performance as a freshman from the outside,” head coach Ed Allen said. “She’s giving us a great deal of consistency and exploiting the block with her offense. Again, Sierra Wilson continues to grow as a leader and quarterback of this team. She still has a long way to go, but she’s in a better place than she was two weeks ago.”

    Laura Steiner, who was named the Hampton Inn Bama Bash Most Valuable Player, led the Tide with a match-high 12 kills. The freshmen outside hitter from Fort Collins, Colo., finished the tournament with 34 kills in the four matches, while averaging 3.40 kills per set played. Steiner had a .358 hitting percentage in the event, after hitting .348 against the Buccaneers.

    Andrea McQuaid and Kayla Fitterer added seven kills each, while Leigh Moyer and Katherine White had four kills each from the middle blocker position. Sierra Wilson had another solid match for the Tide as she had 31 assists, three kills, four digs, two blocks and an ace.

    Wilson and White were named to the all-tournament team as well. Wilson finished the tournament with 157 total assists to average 12.1 assists per set in the four matches.

    Cristina Arenas continued her solid back row play as she led all players in the match with 14 digs. In the Hampton Inn Bama Bash, Arenas tallied 64 digs to average 4.9 digs per set. Kryssi Daniels added eight digs and an ace and finished the tournament with 36 digs (2.8 dps) and eight aces. She leads the team this season with 21 aces in 11 matches.

    “We identified several things that we need to continue to work on,” Allen said. “I thought we had more consistency in most parts of play tonight, except for attacking. We committed a number of attacking errors, particularly hitting into the block, which creates a number of errors.”

    In the opening set, Alabama led wire-to-wire a 3-0 start to open the set. The lead reached as much as nine points when the Tide had a 19-10 advantage, before closing out the set 25-18.

    Although the score of the second set was 25-20, ETSU was never that close as the Tide held as much as an eight-point lead (23-15) towards the end of the set. ETSU made it close, with a late 5-0 run, but a couple kills by Steiner put the set away for a 2-0 lead in the match for UA.

    Alabama got out to another quick start in the third set, leading 6-1 after the break. ETSU as close as three (10-7) before Alabama opened a number of five-point leads in the set. With Alabama holding a 20-15 lead, Wilson served out the set, as the match ended on a kill by Steiner.