|Saturday Volleyball Scores
|Mississippi State 3, Tennessee 1
|LSU 3, Alabama 0
LSU Dumps Alabama in 3-0 Sweep
BATON ROUGE – The LSU volleyball team sent its lone senior Desiree Elliott out on a winning note as the Tigers swept Alabama [25-22, 25-23, 25-21] during the regular season finale for both teams Saturday at the Maravich Center.
It was the Tigers (18-12, 8-10 SEC) fifth sweep of the season and 10th straight home victory over Alabama (24-9, 11-9 SEC) dating back to the 2004 season. LSU will turn its attention to Sunday’s NCAA Tournament Selection show where the Field of 64 will be announced at 8:30 p.m. CT on ESPNU.
For Elliott, she popped six kills and added three blocks. She has hammered 1,169 career kills which is four shy of eclipsing Regan Hood (2001-04) for 13th place on LSU’s all-time list.
“I am certainly proud of the effort and preparation these players put into this match,” head coach Fran Flory said. “A 3-0 win to end the season against a very good Alabama team is a great way to end the regular season. I am proud of them. I am proud of Desi (Desiree Elliott) for having a great effort tonight. Her stats weren’t great, but her spirit and her fight really lead the way. It is really nice to have that on senior night.”
“The team played absolutely phenomenally, and a win against Alabama is the icing on the cake,” Elliott said. “These four years have been so great. The team came out, and they were dedicated. They played with their hearts. I’ve really enjoyed playing with them.”
Malorie Pardo distributed 40 assists, added 10 digs and slapped two aces to claim her team-leading 19th double-double of the season. She fueled three hitters to 10-plus kills as LSU’s offense racked up 50 kills and a .288 hitting percentage compared to Alabama’s 46 kills and .226 hitting ratio.
“I am proud of Malorie,” Flory said. “I really challenged her. I put it on her to lead the team in a pretty aggressive way. I asked her to be better than what she had been. She hasn’t been terrible, but she hasn’t been great. That is a huge step for her. The biggest difference from Wednesday’s match to today’s match was Malorie Pardo. I am super proud of her effort and preparation. I am really happy for her because she put in the extra work. It just goes to show you if you do a little more good things will happen to you.”
Cati Leak cranked a match-leading 14 kills on a .464 hitting clip to go along with nine digs and three blocks. It marked the sixth straight match that Leak has ripped 10-plus kills. Briana Holman belted 13 kills and was involved in four of LSU’s eight blocks.
Helen Boyle and Katie Lindelow bounced back in a big way for the Tigers. After tallying a combined 13 kills and 13 errors on 59 swings during the Ole Miss match, Boyle came away with 10 kills, 14 digs and three blocks en route to her sixth double dip of the season. Lindelow tacked on nine kills, 10 digs and was a spotless 28-for-28 on her reception attempts.
LSU’s backcourt defense was sparked by Haley Smith’s match-leading 15 digs which moved her to within three scoops of Paula Rideau (1983) for seventh place on LSU’s single season digs list.
Alabama was paced by Krystal Rivers’ 12 kills, Sierra Wilson’s 37 assists and Kryssi Daniels’ 13 digs. Brittany Thomas garnered eight kills but was held to a .079 hitting percentage on her 38 swings for the Crimson Tide.
“Obviously, we didn’t play well against Ole Miss,” Pardo said. “Unfortunately, we didn’t come out with a win. We knew it wasn’t (going to be) easy today, but we weren’t going to stop fighting. We still had the desire to win. We were going to let the last game of the season end like we wanted it to. Everybody had that extra little chip on their shoulder, and it showed tonight. Everyone did phenomenally, and we did our jobs to help the group as a whole.”
Alabama raced out to a 9-4 edge during the opening set. Thomas popped three kills coupled with three LSU hitting miscues. The Tigers chipped away and scored nine of the next 14 points to even the ledger at 13-13. Boyle and Lindelow teamed for five kills. The two teams would split the next eight points before LSU ripped off four straight points capped by Holman, Lindelow and Boyle kills in succession to grab a 21-17 edge. The Crimson Tide pulled back within two points on two occasions, the latest at 24-22. However, Elliott ended a long rally with a kill through the middle to vault LSU to the 25-22 victory.
Set two started with the Crimson Tide building a 13-6 advantage. Rivers and Thomas led the charge for Alabama with two kills apiece. Down 16-11, LSU battled back with seven of the next eight points to turn the tables and snatch an 18-17 lead on an Elliott kill. The Crimson Tide would go back ahead 21-20, but LSU used a strong finishing kick to claim the 25-23 win. Boyle hammered two kills, while Holman closed out the frame soaring over the Alabama block with a sideout spike.
Out of the locker room, LSU started the third set with a 10-3 flurry. The Tigers received three Lindelow kills, two Leak kills and a pair of Pardo aces. LSU led wire-to-wire and connected for a match-best .344 hitting clip during the frame. The Crimson Tide would get back to within 23-21, but the Tigers had the final answer with Lindelow and Leak spikes to close out the sweep.
“We had a mission from warmups until the match was over,” Pardo said. “We knew we had it. Before the game, we all sat in the locker room and talked individually about what we were going to do. I think that really helped out there because we trusted everybody next to us. Even the people on the bench communicated with us. Everything that we did to prepare led up to the win.”
“Our season has been a rollercoaster,” Flory said. “As we said, things were stabilized today. We have been waiting all season for this. As a coach, the last match you have to get them in that mode. I think we finally got them in it. The question is do we get to play again (next week in the NCAA Tournament). That is out of our hands. I am certainly proud of how they remained poised and composed. I called a couple timeouts. I told them I’m just calling this timeout to stop things and regain our composure. They understood that for the first time all season, and they responded to it. All of them responded to it. All of them came out to play. I am really proud of their effort.”
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.
Mississippi State Wins in Knoxville for First Time Since 1995
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – For the first time since 1995, the Mississippi State volleyball team (12-20, 3-15) won in Knoxville, beating the Tennessee Volunteers (9-23, 1-17) 3-1 to conclude the 2013 season. Senior outside hitter Dani McCree turned in a career-best 17 kills in her farewell match.
“The girls wanted this win and we needed this win,” fifth-year MSU head coach Jenny Hazelwood said. “Everyone stepped up the challenge and I couldn’t be more proud of the team. Dani showed why she’s such a great student-athlete and leader today by stepping up when her team needed her and winning the last match of the season.”
A sloppy first set opened the match with both teams struggling on multiple attacks. MSU picked up an early 5-2 lead and controlled the set until UT took a 14-13 advantage to force Hazelwood into her first timeout. The Bulldogs quickly rebounded but again fell behind 18-16. State could only tie it a few more times before the Vols ultimately claimed a 25-22 opening-set win.
Much like the first set, MSU took a quick 7-4 lead behind the arms of Taylor Scott and Kelsey Stommes but UT rallied to tie it at nine. After calling a timeout down 12-10, MSU recovered to knot it at 13 off an ace from Suzanne Horner and keep the set tied until State put together a mini 4-1 run to claim a 25-22 win of its own. Scott finished with six kills and a trio of digs in the second frame alone.
After the break, neither team could gain an advantage early in the third set. The two teams traded blows until a solo block by Chelsea Duhs gave the Bulldogs a two-point edge at 13-11. UT recovered to force Hazelwood into a timeout trailing 18-17 and then McCree took over. She put away a kill on the first rally out of the timeout to send State on an 8-3 run en route to a 25-21 third set victory.
Mississippi State and McCree held momentum from the first serve of the fourth set. UT quickly fell behind 2-1 with a pair of service errors and never regained traction. The Vols were forced into their first timeout with MSU leading 12-7 and responded with a 5-2 run. After Hazelwood called a timeout with the Bulldogs ahead by two, State never relented and took the clinching set 25-21.
McCree posted 12 kills over the last two sets to finish with her career-best 17 in the match. She bettered her previous career mark by three and posted a .351 hitting percentage (17-4-37). The Rialto, Calif., native also tacked on a two digs. McCree wrapped up her career with 422 kills, 103 digs, 63 blocks and 460 points in a total of 83 matches (35 starts).
Overshadowed by McCree’s performance was another incredible showing by sophomore libero Roxanne McVey, who turned in 33 digs on the afternoon and finished the season with a single-season school record 632 digs. She also holds the second-best mark at 538 from a season ago and ranks eighth all-time in MSU history with 1,190 career digs.
Scott finished with 24 kills and 10 digs for her 12th double-double of the season and 19th of her career. She wrapped up the season with 622 career kills, which ranks second in the SEC among underclassmen.
With another 26 assists against the Vols, Horner wrapped up the year with 952 assists, which is the second-most by an MSU freshman in the rally-scoring era. Fellow setter Katlyn Mataya also posted 30 assists in the match.
MSU turned in one of its best blocking performances of the season with 10 blocks. Duhs led the way with a career-best six blocks, while Alex Warren and Kaitlyn Schoeppner turned in four each.
Bali Leffall-Young earned the second start of her career and picked up a pair of kills, while freshman Gabby Litwin turned in the best defensive performance of her career during conference play with 15 digs.
The Bulldogs posted one of their best home seasons in program history with eight home wins, which are second-most in program history. State also drew 7,199 fans to the Newell-Grissom Building on the year, a new single-season record for the facility. MSU’s nine nonconference wins are also the most in the Hazelwood era and the most since downing 11 nonconference opponents in 2011.
The 12 wins this season also matches the most wins since Hazelwood returned to Starkville in 2009. The last time an MSU squad turned in more than 12 wins was the 2006 team, which turned in 17.
The only business left for MSU this year will be SEC and AVCA awards, which will be announced in the coming weeks.
Fans can follow the Mississippi State volleyball program on Twitter @HailStateVB, Instagram @HailStateVB and Facebook at facebook.com/HailStateVB.