Tigers Win Battle, Lose War to No. 3 Florida

by LSUsports.net (@LSUsports)
Tigers Win Battle, Lose War to No. 3 Florida

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Despite ending Florida’s 57-game Southeastern Conference regular-season winning streak, the LSU volleyball team fell to the Gators, 30-32, 30-20, 30-13, 30-20, on Friday night in the Stephen O’Connell Center.

LSU (10-7, 2-4 SEC) became the first team in 19 regular-season SEC matches to take a game off Florida (17-1, 7-0 SEC), winning game one, 32-30. LSU remains a team to beat in the first game of a match. In 17 matches this season, the Tigers have won game one in 16 of those matches.

Prior to the game one loss, the Gators last lost a game on Sept. 21, 2001, when lost the first two games in a 3-2 win over South Carolina 3-2 in Columbia, S.C. Florida had not lost a regular-season SEC game at home since dropping the third game to the Gamecocks in a 3-1 win on Oct. 8, 2000, a string of 12 consecutive matches.

“I thought we had a great performance in game one,” said LSU head coach Fran Flory. “Florida does not lose many games at home and I thought it was very nice for us to break their streak.

“I did think we had a great opportunity to send the match to five games, but we gave away too many easy points when our ball control broke down. I think that was a credit to Florida. They are a tough serving team and we did not have an answer to their serve. They are an outstanding team and that is why they are the No. 3 team in the nation.”

Kyra Lancon and Jennifer Hampton led the Tigers with 11 kills each. Cara Causey recorded a career-high six blocks, including three solo. Regan Hood also added three blocks and eight kills for LSU.

In the first game, the Tigers used five blocks, including three by Causey, and strong defensive play to fight back the powerful Gator offensive attack.

Hood added a pair of blocks and a team-high six kills while hitting at a .667 clip to lead LSU. Lancon added five kills for the Tigers.

LSU jumped out to the early 4-1 lead before Florida came back to tie the game at seven. The Gators would take the lead, 9-8, before the Tigers immediately tied the game at nine. The match was tied twice more before LSU took the lead, 13-12.

The Tigers held that lead, as high as five points at 22-17, until Florida tied the game at 29. The Gators retook the lead, 30-29, but a service error by Florida tied the game at 30. A service ace by Lancon gave LSU the lead for good before a kill by Jennifer Hampton sealed the win.

Florida came back with outstanding defense and mixed it up their offense in the second game, jumping out to the early lead and never relinquished it.

After the Gators led by as many as five points, 9-4, the Tigers fought back to cut the deficit to two points, 11-9.

Behind powerful swinging, Florida used an 8-3 run to stretch the lead to 19-13. The Gators went on to close out the second game 30-20 and tie the match at a game each.

Florida came out and took control early in game three and did not let go.

The Gators jumped ahead 12-2 before LSU fought back to cut the Florida lead to eight, but could get no closer. The Gators went on to win the third game, 30-13.

An 11-2 run by Florida to start game four put the Gators up early. The Tigers would not go away and fought back to cut the Florida lead to just four points, 15-11. The Gators slowly rebuilt their lead before closing out the game and the match, 30-20.

The Tigers now travel to Athens, Ga., to close out the road trip through the SEC East with a match at Georgia on Sunday at 1:30 p.m. LSU then returns home for a series against Ole Miss and Mississippi State next weekend in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.