Hampton Named Volleyball's Second Team All-SEC
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Jennifer Hampton earned Second-Team All-Southeastern Conference honors as the fourth-seeded LSU volleyball team opens the 2002 SEC Tournament on Friday at 8 p.m. against fifth-seeded Georgia in Barnhill Arena on the campus of the University of Arkansas.
With a win in the first round, the Tigers (17-9, 9-7 SEC) would record the most wins since posting 20 wins during the 1995 season. Georgia (18-13, 8-8 SEC) enters the tournament having won four of its last five matches, including a pair of wins over teams that had defeated the Bulldogs earlier in the season.
“This match is really important for us,” said LSU head coach Fran Flory. “We set out five years ago to become one of the top teams in the conference and each year we have entered the tournament as a better seed and this year is just another step towards our goal.
“We come into the tournament as the fourth seed and we need to maintain that position and that will be difficult against Georgia,” Flory continued. “They come into the tournament as one of the hottest teams in the conference. They have continued to improve and we will need to play well to win. We will need to get back on track offensively and establish ourselves in our offense to be effective.”
Hampton, a senior from Houston, leads the team in kills, kills per game, digs, digs per game and is tied for the team lead in service aces. The SEC Player of the Week from Nov. 5, she is ranked fifth in the league in kills and ninth in digs. This season she has recorded 16 double-doubles and seven 20-plus kill matches.
“I think this is a great tribute to Jennifer and what she has meant to this program over the past four years,” said Flory. “She didn’t earn this award because she is a great offensive player, but because she is a great all-around player and has earned the respect of the coaches in this league. With the reduction of the number of athletes on the all-conference team from 24 to 12 this year, it is a great accomplishment for her to be included.”
Earlier this season the outside hitter was named the Sugar Bowl Classic Most Valuable Player and was a member of the Florida State Invitational All-Tournament team. Against Florida A&M, she recorded a career-high 28 kills and topped her career-high with 24 digs against Ole Miss.
One of only four players to record 1,000 career kills and 1,000 career digs, this is the third-straight year Hampton has earned second-team all-conference honors. The school record holder in career attack attempts, she currently ranks seventh in career kills and third in career digs in LSU history.
In the Tigers’ first meeting with Georgia this season, LSU defeated the Bulldogs, 3-2, in a marathon match in Athens, Ga. Hampton and Kyra Lancon keyed the Tigers with 20-plus kill performances.
In addition to Lancon’s career-high kill mark, she recorded a career-high with six blocks and tied her career-high with three service aces. The sophomore from Houston committed only five errors in the match for a team-best .432 hitting percentage.
Hampton recorded her 12th double-double of the season with 10 digs to go with her 24 kills. Regan Hood also recorded in double-figures with 14 kills for the Tigers and had seven blocks. Cara Causey led the team with a career-high eight blocks.
In the first game, LSU led most of the way before pulling away in the end, 30-26. In the second game a breakdown in the Tiger defense allowed Georgia to jump out to an early lead. The LSU rally fell short as the Bulldogs went on the win, 30-24.
The marathon third game started out with a 5-0 LSU lead. With the Tigers leading 15-7, a 12-4 run by Georgia gave the Bulldogs their first lead of the game. The Bulldogs served for a total of 10 game points, while LSU served for six game points before converting on consecutive blocks by Hood and Katie Kubena, 39-37.
With the game tied at 20 in the fourth game, Georgia mounted a 7-0 run that broke the game open. LSU had several key passing breakdowns as Georgia went on to win game four, 30-24.
LSU took the early lead in the fifth game, 7-5, but the Bulldogs rallied back to take the lead 8-7. The Tigers used two kills and an ace by Lancon to key a comeback that put them on top for good. With aggressive serving, LSU went on to take the match, 15-11.
The Tigers own the fifth-best winning percentage in the league at the SEC Tournament, going 27-24 in 23 previous appearances. LSU won tournament titles in 1986, 1989, 1990 and 1991 and advanced to the championship match in 1982, 1985, 1992 and 2000.
In LSU’s last appearance in the championship game in 2000, the seventh-seeded Tigers lost to top-seeded Florida, 3-0, in Gainesville, Fla.
Last season, the Tigers fell to Alabama in the opening round, 3-2.
If the Tigers defeat Georgia, they will face the winner of the match between top-seeded Florida and eight-seeded Kentucky on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. LSU lost to both Florida and Kentucky, 3-1, earlier in the season.