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    SEC Volleyball Today: September 28

    volleyBALL RESULTS
    Alabama 3, Ole Miss 1
    Arkansas 3, Auburn 0
    Florida 3, South Carolina 1
    Texas A&M 3, Missouri 1
    LSU 3, Mississippi State 2

    Alabama Volleyball Returns to Foster and Defeats Ole Miss in Four
     
    Tuscaloosa, Ala. – The Alabama women’s volleyball team returned to Foster Auditorium on Friday night earned a tough Southeastern Conference win, 3-1 (25-22, 25-22, 21-25, 25-22), over the Mississippi Rebels. Kayla Fitterer matched her season-high with a match-high 23 kills as she hit .408 against the Rebels.
     
    After winning 11 straight matches, the Crimson Tide (13-4, 2-3 SEC) suffered three straight conference losses before tonight’s SEC win over Mississippi (7-6, 1-3 SEC). UA outhit the Rebels .194 to .103, but Mississippi posted 11 total blocks compared to five by the Tide, and the Rebels had 11 aces, while Bama finished the night with six.
     
    “It’s great to be playing at home, from the standpoint that this team isn’t consistent enough to go into hostile environments and be successful,” head coach Ed Allen said. “We’re still not pleased with our overall consistency. This match may have been one of our tougher ones in a month. I don’t think we’ve been this inconsistent since the opening weekend of the season.”
     
    Joining Fitterer in double figures was freshman outside hitter Laura Steiner, who had a season-high 17 kills. Although Steiner’s kill-number was high, she finished the night with a .150 hitting percentage with 11 hitting errors. Sierra Wilson recorded her third double-double of the season with a match-high 47 assists to go along with 11 digs. Andrea McQuaid led the Tide with 13 digs, Kryssi Daniels added 11 and Cristina Arenas chipped in with 10.
     
    For Mississippi, Allegra Wells had 14 kills to lead the team and was the only Rebel to reach double figures in kills. Setter Amanda Philpot finished the night with eight kills, 30 assists and six digs. Ashley Veach led Mississippi with 15 digs and four aces.  
     
    “I would like to see our middles perform better than what they are doing right now, both offensively and defensively,” Allen said. “Also, we would like to see our ball control settle down as we move forward.”
     
    Although the Tide hit .088 in the opening set, UA posted 25-22 win behind 10 kills from Fitterer (6) and Steiner (4). The Rebels were held to a .028 hitting percentage in the first set as they had 11 kills and 10 errors.
     
    Alabama held a two sets to none lead after winning the second frame, 25-22, behind a .267 hitting percentage. Alabama held a 17-9 lead before the Rebels went on a 9-2 run to cut the Tide lead to one (19-18). With UA leading 22-21, Fitterer tallied three of or six kills in the set on the next four points to put the set away for Alabama.  
     
    After the intermission, Mississippi rallied to win the third set 25-21. Once again Alabama held the Rebels to a low hitting number (.086), but eight aces by Mississippi in the set was too much for the Tide to overcome.
     
    In the fourth set, Alabama held a 16-11 advantage only to see the Rebels respond to take a 21-20 lead. After the teams traded points, Alabama got a kill from Steiner and a pair of Mississippi errors to end the set with a 25-22 victory. UA held the Rebels to a .102 hitting mark in the frame, while the Tide hit .268.
     
    Alabama returns to Southeastern Conference action on Sunday when it hosts Texas A&M at 1:30 p.m. CT at Foster Auditorium.
     




    Balanced attack leads to Arkansas sweep of Auburn
           
    FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The University of Arkansas volleyball team posted a straight-set win over Auburn (25-22, 25-18, 25-17) Friday night in front of 1,027 fans at Barnhill Arena. In a balanced performance, six players had at least five kills and the Razorbacks registered 10.0 total team blocks. Roslandy Acosta led all players with 10 kills. Defensively, Jasmine Norton had a match-high 12 digs, while Liz Fortado and Janeliss Torres-Lopez each tallied six total blocks.
                
    “Anytime you win, it’s a good thing in this league,” head coach Robert Pulliza said. “Our kids did a great job tonight of being a team. We were a great team today and have been talking about being there for each other. I’m very proud of them for that. We didn’t start out playing great volleyball but we were playing together and kept getting better as the match went on.”
                
    In addition to Acosta, the Razorbacks got eight kills from Amanda Anderson, seven from Torres-Lopez and Raymariely Santos, six from Norton and five from Fortado. Arkansas posted a collective .277 hitting percentage and limited the Tigers to a .118 efficiency.
                
    Arkansas (12-3, 3-1 SEC) opened the match with consecutive tandem blocks by Fortado and Torres-Lopez. The visitors responded to take a 7-5 lead but the teams traded the lead throughout the middle stages of the set. With Auburn (12-2, 3-2 SEC) leading 19-17, the Razorbacks took the lead with a three-point surge capped by an AU attack error. The home team went on to score the final three points of the set including another block, this time from Fortado and Anderson.
                
    Like the opener, the second set was an early back-and-forth affair that featured 10 ties until the Razorbacks took control with a four-point run to take a 20-16 lead. Acosta had a pair of kills during the run. The Arkansas block reared its head again with two blocks late in the set, both featuring Torres-Lopez. On the team’s first chance to close out the set, a serve from junior libero Emily Helm trickled over the net to secure a 2-0 match lead.
                
    The Razorbacks’ offense was the story of the third set with the team posting a .438 hitting percentage behind 11 assists from Santos. With the score tied at 4-all, Arkansas scored 10 of the next 11 points to take a 14-5 advantage. Auburn pulled to within three—Arkansas leading, 16-13—after a block to force a timeout out of Pulliza. The home team responded to take a 20-14 lead on a solo block from Anderson. On match point, Fortado found the floor to seal the set and the match sweep.
                
    “I feel like tonight we grew as a team,” Santos said. “We’ve been playing together as a team lately and been successful. We helped each other and found a way. It wasn’t always pretty. It was up-and-down sometimes but we were there for each other and that’s how we got the win.”
                
    Arkansas returns to action Sunday for a Western Division matchup with LSU. First serve of the weekend finale is scheduled for 1 p.m. (CT) at Barnhill Arena. The match will be broadcast live by Cox Sports Television (CST) with Jacob Haertl and Maria Taylor handling the commentary duties.






    Mann Hits Career and Season Highs as No. 12 Florida Volleyball Stalls South Carolina, 3-1

    COLUMBIA, S.C. - Junior middle blocker Chloe Mann (Gainesville, Fla.) had one of the best matches of her career, hitting a season-high .621 with a career-high 20 kills to help the No. 12 University of Florida volleyball team defeat South Carolina, 3-1, on the road Friday evening.

    Mann's 20 kills best her phenomenal performances last November on the road at LSU and Arkansas, where she tallied 18 and 19 kills, respectively. The Gainesville native's 22.0 points is also a new career high.

    "Chloe was lights out and I think when someone has the hot hand, you have to get them the ball," Florida head coach Mary Wise said. "I have to give South Carolina a lot of credit. They responded without using their best player (Juliette Thevenin) and were able to come out and win that third set and really gave us a match."

    Florida hit .410 in the match with 9.0 blocks, holding South Carolina to a .260 offensive efficiency and the SEC's leading point-scorer, Thevenin, to just five kills. The Gators (10-2, 4-0 SEC) remain the only unbeaten team in league play, while South Carolina dropped its first match at home this season, moving to 13-3 on the year and 2-3 in SEC action.

    Junior setter Taylor Brauneis (Crystal Lake, Ill.) narrowly missed her season high with 52 assists on the night, adding two service aces against the Gamecocks. Senior right-side hitter Tangerine Wiggs (Seattle, Wash.) hit .500 with 10 kills and five blocks, while Mann added four block assists and freshman Gabby Mallette (Orange Park, Fla.) registered three solo blocks, the most by a Gator since Dec. 3, 2011 (Kristy Jaeckel, at UNI).

    Freshman outside hitter Živa Recek (Kočevje, Slovenia) just missed a double-double with 17 kills and nine digs, while sophomore libero Taylor Unroe (Muncie, Ind.) turned in a match-high 17 digs on the night. Sophomores Madison Monserez (Orlando, Fla.) and Holly Pole (Ocala, Fla.) combined for 19 digs against South Carolina,

    The Gators had a slow start to open the first set, finding themselves down early, 3-1. Florida began to chip away at the South Carolina lead, as a long rally led to a point for the Gators and the score tied at 6-6. The Orange and Blue continued to swing away and a Recek kill from the back row put the Gators ahead, 8-6. A solo stuff for Mallette continued the Florida run, 9-7.

    Another long rally won by Florida forced South Carolina's first timeout of the set at 14-9. A Brauneis quick set to the middle allowed Mann to swing on an open net to go ahead, 19-12. Out of the second SC timeout, Florida continued to surge, as a Brauneis ace and a Mann-Wiggs stuff block put the Gators up 10, 22-12. A Recek kill gave Florida its largest lead of the match at 23-13 and a Gamecock service error gave the Gators the first set, 25-14.

    South Carolina began the second stanza similar to the first, jumping out to a two-point lead early. A kill off the quick set from Brauneis allowed Mann to swing through the seam in the block, putting Florida within one, down 8-7. A stuff block by Smith and Wiggs tied the set at 9-9. A Smith kill tied the stanza again at 11-all but a Gamecock 3-1 run forced a Gator timeout with Florida down 14-12.

    Out of the break, the Gators went on a 4-0 run behind the serve of Brauneis, and an ace by the junior setter forced a Gamecock timeout with the Gators leading, 16-14. Florida kept the two-point advantage late in the second set, as a service error by the Gamecocks forced SC to call their second timeout of the set, Florida up 21-19. A Mallette kill out of the timeout extended the Gator advantage, 22-19, and a slide kill by Smith put Florida within two of the set, 23-20. The Gamecocks didn't lose their fight though and South Carolina went on a 2-0 run to close the gap to 23-22 and force a Gator timeout. A Mann kill set up set point for Florida at 24-22 and another Mann swing tilted the set in Florida's favor, 25-23.

    Florida jumped out to a 3-1 lead in the third set, but South Carolina wasn't about to back down, going on a 3-0 run to lead the Gators, 6-4. A Recek kill briefly stopped the South Carolina surge, but the Gamecocks continued to roll, going ahead 12-5 behind the serve of Bethanie Thomas. A Wiggs kill halted the SC run and an ace by Pole closed the gap, UF down 13-8. Pole's tricky jump float kept the SC serve receive on their toes, as Florida cut the Gamecock lead to just two with a Wiggs-Mann stuff block, UF down 13-11.

    The Florida roof forced a South Carolina timeout and the teams continued to battle out of the break, as Florida pulled within one, 16-15, off a Smith slide kill, and again at 17-16 with a Mallette solo block. A Mann-Wiggs stuff block kept the Gators close, down 20-18. A Mann slam that landed well in front of the 10-foot line kept Florida within striking distance, UF down 21-19. A Gamecock blocking error kept the Gators in the set, with Florida down 23-21, but SC took the set, 25-21, off a block by Cara Howley.

    The Gators jumped out to a 5-1 lead in set four, courtesy of two big swings by redshirt freshman Simone Antwi (Fairfax Station, Va.). Brauneis and Antwi then teamed up for a stuff block to go ahead, 7-2. A Recek kill through the seam of the block continued the Gator momentum, 8-3. A solo block by Mallette, her third of the night, put the Gators ahead of the Gamecocks, 11-3. A Wiggs out-of-system kill continued the Gators' surge, 14-7.

    A Gamecock hitting error forced a timeout by the home team as the Gators led, 16-7. South Carolina was not about to let the match slip away and their outsides continued to hit the corners, as the Gamecocks closed the gap at 21-16 and forced a Gator timeout. Kills by Recek and Wiggs set up match point for Florida and an Unroe service ace sealed the win for the Gators, 25-17.

    The Gators continue their road swing, traveling to Starkville to take on the Mississippi State Bulldogs on Sunday afternoon. First serve is set for 1:30 p.m. ET at the Newell-Grissom Building with live stats and video available on GatorZone.com. Cory Stephens will be live with the call between Florida and Mississippi State on Country 103.7 The Gator.
     




    A&M Defeats Missouri, 3-1, in First SEC Road Match
     
    COLUMBIA, Mo.  – Playing its first-ever Southeastern Conference road match, Texas A&M posted a 3-1 victory against a familiar opponent, defeating its former Big 12 Conference foe Missouri, 25-20, 23-25, 25-23, 25-17, tonight at Hearnes Center.
     
    A&M, which gets its first win in Columbia since 2008, improves to 11-2 overall and 3-1 in the SEC. Missouri drops to 11-4, 3-2.
     
    A&M, the SEC leader in kills per set, used a balanced attack as four players posted double-figure kills, led by senior opposite Alisia Kastmo, who tied for match-high honors with 20. Senior outside hitter Tori Mellinger had 17 kills, and senior middle blocker Stephanie Minnerly pitched in a career-high 15 kills while hitting a personal best .700. Senior middle Lindsey Miller finished with 11 as A&M posted 74 total kills to Missouri’s 47 and outhit the Tigers .294 to .221.
     
    A&M also had a 69-55 lead in digs as senior libero Megan Pendergast led A&M with 21. Junior setter Allie Sawatzky, who dished out a season-high 54 assists, contributed 12 digs, and Mellinger and junior outside hitter Heather Reynolds posted 11 digs apiece.
     
    Lisa Henning was the only Missouri player to record double-figure kills with 20. Missouri, the top blocking team in the league, outblocked A&M 13-5 to 9.0, getting five blocks each from Henning and Whitney Little.
     
    A&M never trailed in the opening set as Mellinger and Kastmo combined for three consecutive kills to give the Aggies an early 5-2 lead. The Aggies, who outhit the Tigers, .317 to .189 in the frame, later led 17-13 when a kill and a block by Miller put the Aggies up 19-13. A Missouri attack error on the next play gave the Aggies their largest lead at 20-13, but Missouri began chipping away at the margin, using a 5-1 run to get within 20-16. The Tigers stayed within four points at 23-19 before Minnerly put down a kill using a slide attack to put A&M at set point.
     
    Missouri setter Molly Kreklow posted a kill following an errant A&M overpass to fight off one set point before Aggie freshman Angela Lowak blasted a kill through the Tiger block to close out the set.
     
    A&M jumped out to a 4-1 lead in the second set, but Missouri later used a 3-0 run to retake the lead at 10-8. The Tigers, who outhit A&M, .406 to .220 in the set, went on to build a three-point lead before A&M rallied and tied the score at 14-14 following a Missouri ball handling error. A&M tied the score again at 15-all but was unable to retake the lead as the Tigers scored three unanswered points to go up 18-15 and force an A&M timeout.
     
    Kastmo ended the run with a tip kill, and the Aggies would later get within 21-20 as Mellinger’s off-speed shot fell in for a kill. A&M hit wide on the ensuing play and then had consecutive attacks blocked as Missouri took a 24-20 lead. A&M fought off three set points to get within 24-23 before Henning ended the set with a kill.
     
    A&M built a 12-7 lead in the third set before Missouri went on a 6-1 run to get right back into the set. The Tigers later used a 5-1 run to take their first lead of the stanza at 18-16. They kept the lead at 19-17, but they were whistled for reaching over the net and Sawatzky followed with a kill to knot the score at 19-19. Henning then got a kill out of the back row, but Mellinger countered with back-to-back kills as A&M retook the lead at 21-20. Sawatzky continued the scoring, swatting down a ball that had caromed off her own block for a kill. With A&M leading 22-20, the teams traded points for the remainder of the set with Kastmo clinching the set with her seventh kill of the frame, giving the Aggies a 2-1 lead in the match.
     
    A&M appeared in control of the fourth set, building 17-10 advantage. Missouri fought back, using a 4-0 run to get within 17-14 before Mellinger posted a kill and Minnerly and Lowak teamed for a block. Henning ended the run with a kill, but Kastmo answered with a kill out of the middle and Lowak followed with her fourth kill of the match to build a 21-15 lead.
     
    A&M kept the lead at 22-17 when Miller and Lowak got a block to begin a match-ending three point run. Sawatzky posted her seventh kill with a dump to put the Aggies at match point, and Reynolds followed with an ace to clinch the victory.
     
    A&M completes its first SEC road swing Sunday as the Aggies take on the Alabama Crimson Tide in Tuscaloosa. First serve is slated for 1:30 p.m. at Foster Auditorium. Live audio of the match will be available for free on AggieAthletics.com, with Chelsea Reber calling the action.
     




    LSU Earns Comeback Win in Starkville, 3-2

    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) and overcame a 2-1 hole for the second consecutive Friday. The match lasted 2 hours and 36 minutes as the two teams combined 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 Delhoussaye's career-high 33 scoops. Haley Smith, the reigning SEC Freshman of the Week, picked up 16 digs for the Tigers. Cati Leak totaled 14 digs and tacked on six kills.

    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 ace in her two frames of action.

    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.

    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 team hitting percentage.

    "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."

    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.