BATON ROUGE – Briana Holman powered home 11 kills, but the LSU volleyball team was handed a 3-0 setback by Texas A&M [21-25, 22-25, 22-25] Wednesday evening at the Maravich Center.
The Tigers (15-9, 5-7 SEC) were swept for only the second time during the 2013 season. With the victory, the Aggies (14-10, 6-7 SEC) moved past LSU for eighth place in the SEC standings.
LSU totaled 42 kills and .178 hitting percentage, while Texas A&M connected for 45 kills and a .274 hitting clip. The Tigers have dropped seven of nine matches when being held to under a .200 hitting efficiency.
“I said before the match that this was going to be won on our side or on their side,” head coach Fran Flory said. “The team that managed themselves the best was going to be the team that won. They managed themselves a whole lot better than we did. We didn’t execute one thing of the game plan that we implemented in practice yesterday, not one thing. We weren’t mentally focused. Maybe we were tired, but truly everyone is tired at this time of the season. That can’t be an excuse.”
Malorie Pardo had her run of five straight double-doubles come to a close. The junior setter distributed 35 assists to go along with six digs.
Holman, the reigning SEC Freshmen of the Week, notched double digit kills for the fifth straight outing. She also added three blocks for the Tigers.
Helen Boyle nearly amassed her third straight double-double. She provided nine kills on a .250 hitting ratio and registered a team-leading 14 digs. Cati Leak and Desiree Elliott chipped in eight and seven kills, respectively.
“Helen did a pretty good job offensively,” Flory said. “We weren’t passing well so she wasn’t getting very good opportunities in terms of set location. I don’t think she had a very well-rounded match. I thought she put a few balls away. I don’t think we did a very good job blocking, and I don’t think we handled the first ball very well. I can say Briana was decent offensively. I can’t find any other bright spots in this match.”
Haley Smith secured 13 digs and converted on all 11 of her reception attempts. She has garnered 10-plus scoops during 19 of her 20 starts at the libero position.
Texas A&M was fueled by Shelby Sullivan’s 15 kills on 23 swings with only error for a crisp .609 hitting percentage. The Aggies also received solid efforts from Emily Hardesty (nine kills), Angela Lowak (eight kills) and Allie Sawatzky (seven kills, 32 assists, 10 digs). Heather Reynolds reeled in a match-high 15 digs for the A&M back line.
“They were digging more balls than us,” Boyle said. “They were fighting harder through plays and rallies. When we had a long rally, they usually ended up winning them. That is usually not what we do. If we would’ve fought through the rallies, we would have had a better outcome.”
LSU raced out to a 3-1 edge in set one behind two Holman kills before the Aggies ripped off 13 of the next 19 points to go ahead by a 14-9 margin. The run was sparked by Hardesty, Lowak and Sullivan who combined for seven kills. The Tigers pulled back to within three points on three occasions, the latest at 22-20. However, A&M sided out each time aided by two more Sullivan kills. The Aggies tucked away the 25-21 decision on a block of Boyle.
The two teams traded eight early ties and three lead changes to begin the second set. Knotted at 14-14, the Aggies used two Lowak kills coupled with two Elliott hitting errors to go up 18-14. LSU could only get as close as two points six times. At 24-22, Hardesty belted a sideout spike to vault A&M to the winner’s circle and give the Aggies a two-set edge.
Both squads cranked up the offenses in set three and notched over .400 hitting percentages. Neither team went up by more than two points until the Aggies broke the 18-18 deadlock with four quick points. Sullivan popped back-to-back kills followed by two LSU hitting miscues to make it 22-18. The Tigers wiped away one match point via a Leak kill to draw back to 24-22, but Lowak responded for A&M out of a timeout to complete the sweep.
“It wasn’t just passing, my sets were really low too,” Pardo said. “I think it is just the little things, and that everyone could do their job a little bit better. We can pass to a little bit better location, set to a little bit better location as in height, hit and put the ball away. We need everyone doing a little bit better. I think we will get it. Things like this happen. We just have to forget about it and move on.”
LSU will look to regroup Friday as Auburn visits the Maravich Center for the second meeting of 2013 between the two teams. First serve is on-tap for 7 p.m. with live video and live stats available for Geaux Zone subscribers at www.LSUsports.net/live.
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