BATON ROUGE – The LSU volleyball team was dealt a 3-0 setback by defending national champion and No. 4 Texas [12-25, 18-25, 17-25] Saturday as 1,419 fans gathered at the Maravich Center.
LSU (10-3) has dropped back-to-back matches and was swept for the first time this season, while Texas (10-2) secured its 12th straight victory over the Tigers since 1991.
The Longhorns connected for 49 kills and a .347 hitting percentage compared to 33 kills and a .127 hitting clip for LSU. Texas also held 61-55 and 7-2 edges in the dig and block departments, respectively.
“I think our kids executed the defensive game plan that we asked them to do extremely well during some portions of the match,” head coach Fran Flory said. “We extended rallies and made some great plays. However, we got impatient in plays and didn’t make digs that were within our range. The key to the match was we could not find enough kills. Our offense went stagnate, and we could not create enough scoring opportunities. When you do that against a team like Texas, you’re not going to succeed. You got to be able to kill the ball against them.”
Malorie Pardo secured her sixth consecutive double-double for the Tigers. She distributed 29 assists and registered 10 digs.
In her first extended action since suffering an injury during the second week of the season, Desiree Elliott ripped seven kills on a crisp .353 hitting percentage to go along with seven digs.
“I thought Desi played well, her speed is what allows her to beat teams,” Flory said. “We know we need Desi on the court, we know we had to find the right situation for her. I don’t know that we have that yet. Getting a senior into a match like Desi, I felt was important because she’s the experience. She’s the one that will be able to bring everybody together and make the plays.”
Briana Holman powered home a team-leading eight kills but had her run of double figure kills come to close at 10 consecutive matches. Her .150 hitting clip was her second lowest output on the season.
Helen Boyle and Khourtni Fears provided seven kills apiece whereas Boyle added 10 digs and a pair of aces. On the back row, Haley Smith reeled in a team-high 16 digs. She has chipped in 10-plus scoops during her last nine outings.
Texas was sparked by Haley Eckerman, a reigning AVCA All-America First-Team selection. She ripped a match-best 15 kills and collected 16 digs. Chiaka Ogbogu notched 11 kills on 18 swings en route to a .556 attack percentage. The Longhorns also received solid performances from Chloe Collins (38 assists, eight digs) and Sarah Palmer (21 digs).
“I thought we guessed (blocking),” Flory said. “We had a nice blocking game plan put together, and we got a little impatient. Texas runs a high offense. In it, you have to remain poised. You have to maintain your composer. In those long rallies, we lost that. Instead of staying disciplined, we got anxious. You know the mark of a veteran team versus an inexperienced team. This was a great match for us to play to learn from. Unfortunately, we couldn’t learn through the match and really get the hang of things.”
LSU fired out to a 4-1 advantage to start the opening set sparked by a Holman kill, a Boyle ace and a Holman-Cati Leak block. The Longhorns responded with 16 of the next 21 points to seize the momentum and build a 17-9 lead. Eckerman ripped five kills, and LSU was forced into four hitting miscues to ignite the run. Texas capped the impressive opening stanza with back-to-back Eckerman spikes to collect the 25-12 win. The Longhorns totaled a match-high 19 kills on a match-best .409 hitting percentage.
LSU was able to regroup and jump out to an 11-7 edge in set two. The trio of Boyle, Elliott and Holman combined for seven kills during the early going. Ahead 13-9, Texas was able to find its rhythm and ripped off 14 of the next 16 points to turn the tables. The Longhorns went up by a 23-15 margin on back-to-back blocks involving Sara Hattis and secured the 25-18 victory on an Ogbogu kill.
Out of the locker room, Texas raced out to a 10-2 advantage and led wire-to-wire during the third set. Eckerman and Ogbogu popped two kills each, and the Tigers committed a trio of hitting errors. LSU was able to pull back with five points on two occasions, the latest at 18-13. However, the Longhorns came away with seven of the final 11 points to tuck away the 25-17 win and complete the sweep.
“We just have to work on our side and do the basics,” Pardo said. “Defensively, we can pick up a little more, and our hitters can put a couple of more balls away. It’s just all about doing the little things and improving in practice. Doing those little things in practice will translate to us being able to do those little things in the match.”
LSU steps back into SEC action Wednesday and faces Texas A&M to open up a stretch of three matches over a five-day span. First serve is scheduled for 7 p.m. from College Station. The match will televised by ESPNU with Adam Amin and Maria Taylor set to call the action. Free live audio and live stats also will be provided inside the Geaux Zone at www.LSUsports.net/live.
Desiree Elliott will continue LSU’s legacy of serving the community. She is teaming up with St. Vincent de Paul and Bishop Ott Shelter Program for her season-long senior class philanthropy project. The Tigers will be collecting items ranging from children’s clothes and shoes along with baby supplies and toys at every home match as part of the “Geaux Kids” initiative. Fans will be able to donate items inside the “Geaux Kids” boxes located at the Tiger Fan Zone.
For all of the latest news and information on Tiger volleyball, visit www.lsusports.net/volleyball. Fans can also follow the program on its social media outlets at www.Facebook.com/lsuvolleyball along with @lsuvolleyball and @lsucoachfran on Twitter and @lsuvb on Instagram.