Volleyball Falls to Tulane in Regular Season Finale, 3-2
BATON ROUGE — For the first time since 2004, the LSU volleyball team came up short against an unranked team at home as the Tigers fell in five games to in-state rival Tulane, 28-30, 33-31, 25-30, 30-24, 14-16, in an epic match to conclude the regular season on Saturday night in the Maravich Center.
The loss for LSU in the Maravich Center snapped a nine-match home winning streak and was only the second of the season. The Tigers have lost only four matches at home since the final match of the 2004 season, which also was the last time LSU lost to an unranked team at home. All four losses since then have come against top 10-ranked teams. The last loss at home to an unranked team was on Nov. 27 against Houston, also in five games.
LSU finished the regular season at 24-7, while the Green Wave finished at 28-6. Both teams are hoping to receive at-large bids to the NCAA Tournament when the selections are announced on Sunday at 7 p.m. on ESPNU. The Tigers are looking for their third-straight NCAA Tournament berth, their longest streak since advancing to the tournament in four straight years from 1989-1992.
“This was a great match and it’s too bad that somebody had to lose,” said LSU head coach Fran Flory. “This team is still growing and still maturing and hopefully this will be another lesson for us.”
Four Tigers were in double-figures in kills, with five in double-figures in digs and one in blocks. Lauren DeGirolamo and Marina Skender led LSU with 21 kills each. DeGirolamo also led the match with 11 blocks, her third double-double of the season and the sixth of her career, while leading the match with a .422 hitting percentage. Skender recorded a career-high with nine blocks to go along with 14 digs and two aces, to come up one block shy of her first career triple-double.
Brittnee Cooper added 15 kills and nine blocks with a .353 hitting percentage. Kyna Washington posted 13 kills and 13 blocks, and led the match with three aces. Elena Martinez led LU with 23 digs, followed by 16 from Michelle Hensgens and 11 from Brittney Johnson. Johnson recorded a career high with 63 assists.
As a team, Tulane finished with 86 kills, compared with 79 for LSU, while the Tigers were more efficient at .235 compared with .196. The Green Wave posted 97 digs, 15 more than LSU, and the Tigers out blocked Tulane by 16.5, 21.5 to 5.0. Each team finished with five aces, although committed eight errors and the Green Wave only three.
“Tulane out dug us,” said Flory. “They beat us in the areas that determine close matches. They out fought us keeping the ball off the floor. Their ball control was better than ours. You can’t win matches when a team out digs you like that.”
The first two games were decided by only two points each, with Tulane coming out ahead, 30-28, in game one and LSU evening it up with a 33-31 win in game two. Coming out of the locker room, the Green Wave took game three, 30-25. The Tigers sent it to a fifth game with a 30-24 win in game four, their best game of the match. LSU pulled out to a 6-1 lead in the fifth game before Tulane tied it up at eight. After five ties, the Tigers got to match point, but the Green Wave got a kill by Bridget Wells to tie it up. Tulane closed out the match with two straight points, 16-14.
“I thought we did a nice job of coming back after not playing very well,” said Flory. “At the end, we didn’t do a very good job of handling the ball. You get a swing for match and get the opportunity to win but you don’t take care of it, you can’t give up two points in a row that easily on balls that we should have handled.”
LSU has now played an astounding 12 five-game matches in 31 outings. The Tigers are 8-4 (.667) in the five framers, with all three previous losses coming on the road in SEC play. The 12 five-game matches marks the most in a single season since playing 13 in 1985, while the Tigers have won the most five-game matches since the 1986 team also won eight.
Tulane def. LSU, 30-28, 31-33, 30-25, 24-30, 16-14
Tulane (28-6) (Kills-aces-blocks) – Sara Radosevic 34-1-1; Ksenija Vlaskovic 22-1-1; Bridget Wells 19-0-1; Jen Linder 6-0-3; Lindsey Shepard 4-0-2; Jenn Miller 1-0-0; Rachel Lindelow 0-1-0; Amaris Genemaras 0-0-1; Luna Rebrovic 0-2-0; Totals 86-5-5.0. (Assists) – Luna Rebrovic 43; Rachel Lindelow 32. (Dig leaders) – Jenn Miller 26; Sara Radosevic 21; Rachel Lindelow 17; Ksenija Vlaskovic 16; Luna Rebrovic 8
LSU (24-7) (Kills-aces-blocks) – Lauren DeGirolamo 21-0-11; Marina Skender 21-2-9; Brittnee Cooper 15-0-9; Kyna Washington 13-3-2; Brittney Johnson 4-0-4; Angela Bensend 2-0-4; Elena Martinez 2-0-0; Tania Schatow 1-0-2; Totals 79-5-21.5. (Assists) – Brittney Johnson 63. (Dig leaders) – Elena Martinez 23; Michelle Hensgens 16; Marina Skender 14; Kyna Washington 13; Brittney Johnson 11