Volleyball Wins First NCAA Tournament Game Since '92, 3-2
AUSTIN, Texas — For the first time in 15 years, the LSU volleyball team won its first round NCAA Tournament match, coming back from a 2-1 deficit to win a five-game match over No. 14 New Mexico State, 30-25, 21-30, 21-30, 30-27, 15-13, on Friday evening at Gregory Gym.
The win improved the Tigers to 25-7 on the season, while the Aggies finished the year at 26-6.
The NCAA Tournament victory is the first for LSU since a first-round win over Texas Tech in 1992. The Tigers were unsuccessful in their past two first round games, falling to California last season and falling at Texas in 2005.
“I’d like to credit New Mexico State,” said LSU head coach Fran Flory. “What a great team with a bunch of great athletes who played their hearts out tonight. Unfortunately, somebody had to lose that match because they played awfully hard. I think we played awfully hard. I think it was a battle of who was going to make the key plays at the right time to win the match. That’s the kind of match that we expected.”
The five-game epic marked the 13th five-game match of the season for LSU in 32 outings. The Tigers are now 9-4 in five framers, with three of the four losses coming on the road in SEC play in October. The 13 five-game matches are the most in a single season since playing 13 in 1985, while the nine five-game wins are the most in school history, surpassing the eight won by the 1986 team.
“We expected to play to five games,” said Flory. “We have played a lot of five-game matches and we haven’t always been successful. When we’ve lost matches, most of them have been five-game matches. I think we have matured as a team a little bit and I’m very proud of the effort that we had and proud of our young kids who came in.”
LSU will now face No. 4 national seed Texas, a 3-0 winner over Texas State in the first round, on Saturday at 6:30 p.m. CT.
Two years ago, Texas swept the Tigers in the first round in Austin. LSU has not defeated the Longhorns since 1991 when the Tigers were 2-0 against Texas.
Despite hitting only .104 for the match and being out-killed by the Aggies, LSU came up with the big points when needed down the stretch. The Tigers rallied back from a 2-1 deficit to win games four and five by a combined five points after falling in games two and three by a total of 18 points.
Freshman setter Brittney Johnson led the Tigers effort with five of the team’s 15 blocks, followed by four each from Lauren DeGirolamo and Tania Schatow. Playing for an injured DeGirolamo all of the fourth and fifth games and a majority of the third, Schatow tied her career high with four blocks and posted three kills and an ace.
Skender led the way with four of the Tigers’ 10 service aces, which moved her into ninth in career service aces in LSU history with 163. Sophomore setter Maggie Lonergan added two aces, while the Tigers added one each from Washington, Elena Martinez, Michelle Hensgens and Schatow.
Martinez, the 2007 SEC Defensive Player of the Year, led LSU with 25 digs, her 21st 20-dig match of the year. She has an amazing 728 digs this season, extending her SEC single-season record.
“We lost Lauren DeGirolamo to a foot injury,” said Flory. “She just couldn’t go anymore. She played as long and as hard as she could. Tania Schatow hasn’t played a whole lot, but was truly the hero of the match. She made a difference shutting down their middles. I’m also really proud of Maggie Lonergan and Brittney Johnson our setters and Angela Bensend, another freshman, who had outstanding matches.”
Whitney Phillips and Kim Oguh led New Mexico State with 15 kills each, followed by 13 from Amber Simpson. Krystal Torres led the Aggies with 31 digs, followed by 12 from Lindsey Yon, 11 from Phillips and 10 by Alyssa Gintat. Simpson posted a match-high seven blocks, followed by Oguh with five.
LSU took the lead in the first game, 3-2, and never trailed after that point. The Tigers pulled ahead by six, 12-6, before extending the lead to seven, 17-10. New Mexico State got back to within four, 21-17, but LSU used several runs to send it to game point, 29-22. The Aggies fought off three points before a kill by Washington ended it, 30-25.
In the second game, LSU fell behind, 7-4, and trailed 9-6 before coming back to tie it at 10. The Tigers took their first lead of the game, 12-11, but New Mexico State came back to tie it up. After four more tied scores, the Aggies took the lead for good, 17-16. A four-point run by New Mexico State put the Aggies ahead by five, 22-17, before a three-point run sent it to game point, 29-20. A kill by Skender held off New Mexico State for a point, but the Aggies evened the match, 30-21.
Falling behind 10-6 early in the third game, LSU never could quite get back into the match as New Mexico State’s hitting efficiency was the difference in the game. The Tigers trailed by as many as 10, 23-13, but were able to cut the lead to seven, 26-19, but could get no closer. The Aggies took the third game, 30-21, after hitting .536 for the game with only one hitting error and 16 kills.
Although LSU did not improve its hitting efficiency in game four, the Tigers did force New Mexico State into 14 hitting errors, which put the Aggies below LSU efficiency wise. After going back and forth with six ties, the Tigers took a three-point lead, 9-6. New Mexico State tied it up again at nine before the game saw six more ties. LSU broke the 17 all tie with a four-point run to take the largest lead of the game. The Tigers led by five, 25-20, but the Aggies came back to tie it up at 27, the final tie of the game. LSU came out of its final timeout and recorded three-straight blocks to send it to game five, 30-27.
The fifth game played out in much the same was as game four, but was only played to 15. After the Tigers scored the first two points, New Mexico State scored three straight to take the lead. The pair were then tied three more times before LSU pulled ahead, 7-5. With the score tied once again at seven, the pair traded points until being tied at 13 all. The Tigers then scored the final two points of the match to take the game and match, 15-13.
The winner of Saturday’s LSU-Texas match will advance to the NCAA Third Round and face 10th-ranked Florida on the Gators’ home court on Dec. 7.
LSU def. New Mexico State, 30-25, 21-30, 21-30, 30-27, 15-13
LSU (25-7) (Kills-aces-blocks) – Angela Bensend 16-0-2; Kyna Washington 15-1-2; Marina Skender 12-4-2; Brittnee Cooper 6-0-3; Lauren DeGirolamo 4-0-4; Tania Schatow 3-1-4; Brittney Johnson 2-0-5; Elena Martinez 1-1-0; Michelle Hensgens 0-1-0; Maggie Lonergan 0-2-0; Totals 59-10-15.0. (Assists) – Brittney Johnson 34. (Dig leaders) – Elena Martinez 25; Kyna Washington 15; Marina Skender 9
New Mexico State (26-6) (Kills-aces-blocks) – Kim Oguh 15-3-5; Whitney Phillips 15-0-1; Amber Simpson 13-0-7; Lindsey Yon 9-2-4; Anna Callais 6-0-3; Whitney Woods 5-0-4; Krista Altermatt 3-0-0; Brynja Rodgers 0-2-0; Alyssa Gintant 0-1-0; Totals 66-8-15.0. (Assists) ? Alyssa Gintant 31; Brynja Rodgers 29. (Dig leaders) – Krystal Torres 31; Lindsey Yon 12; Whitney Phillips 11; Alyssa Gintant 10
2007 NCAA Women’s Volleyball Tournament
STANFORD, CALIFORNIA REGIONAL
Nov. 30 and Dec. 1 at Stanford, California
Sacramento St. def. Minnesota, 3-1
*#1 Stanford def. Santa Clara, 3-0
*#1 Stanford vs. Sacramento St., 10 p.m.
Nov. 30 and Dec. 1 at Athens, Ohio
#16 Cal Poly def. Xavier, 3-0
Purdue def. *Ohio, 3-1
#16 Cal Poly vs. Purdue, 4:30 p.m.
Nov. 30 and Dec. 1 at Manhattan, Kansas
Oregon def. Missouri St., 3-0
*#9 Kansas St. def. Tulsa, 3-0
*#9 Kansas St. vs. Oregon, 7 p.m.
Nov. 30 and Dec. 1 at Clemson, South Carolina
#8 UCLA def. Alabama A&M, 3-0
*Clemson def. Alabama, 3-1
#8 UCLA vs. *Clemson, 6 p.m.
GAINESVILLE, FLORIDA REGIONAL
Nov. 30 and Dec. 1 at Los Angeles, California
Long Beach St. def. UNLV, 3-2
*#5 USC def. Pepperdine, 3-0
*#5 USC vs. Long Beach St., 9 p.m.
Nov. 30 and Dec. 1 at Queens, New York
Delaware def. Princeton, 3-1
*#12 St. John’s def. Long Island, 3-0
*#12 St. John’s vs. Delaware, 7 p.m.
Nov. 29 and 30 at Gainesville, Florida
*#13 Florida def. College of Charleston, 3-0
Oklahoma def. Florida A&M, 3-1
*#13 Florida def. Oklahoma, 3-0
Florida Advances to NCAA Third Round
Nov. 30 and Dec. 1 at Austin, Texas
LSU def. New Mexico St., 3-2
*#4 Texas def. Texas St., 3-0
*#4 Texas vs. LSU, 6:30 p.m.
UNIVERSITY PARK, PENNSYLVANIA REGIONAL
Nov. 30 and Dec. 1 at University Park, Pennsylvania
*#3 Penn St. def. Siena, 3-0
Albany def. Cleveland St., 3-0
*#3 Penn St. vs. Albany, 6 p.m.
Nov. 30 and Dec. 1 at Ann Arbor, Michigan
#14 Colorado St. def. Illinois St., 3-0
*Michigan def. Miami (Ohio), 3-0
#14 Colorado St. vs. *Michigan, 6 p.m.
Nov. 30 and Dec. 1 at Louisville, Kentucky
#11 Hawaii def. Tennessee St., 3-0
Middle Tennessee def. *Louisville, 3-2
#11 Hawaii vs. Middle Tennessee, 6 p.m.
Nov. 30 and Dec. 1 at Seattle, Washington
BYU def. Mississippi, 3-0
*#6 Washington def. Missouri, 3-2
*#6 Washington vs. BYU, 8 p.m.
MADISON, WISCONSIN REGIONAL
Nov. 30 and Dec. 1 at Madison, Wisconsin
Iowa St. def. San Diego, 3-2
*#7 Wisconsin def. Northern Iowa, 3-0
*#7 Wisconsin vs. Iowa St., 7 p.m.
Nov. 30 and Dec. 1 at Durham, North Carolina
*Duke def. American, 3-2
#10 California def. Liberty, 3-1
#10 California vs. *Duke, 4 p.m.
Nov. 30 and Dec. 1 at Dayton, Ohio
Michigan St. def. Kentucky, 3-0
*#15 Dayton def. Lipscomb, 3-0
*#15 Dayton vs. Michigan St., 6 p.m.
Nov. 30 and Dec. 1 at Lincoln, Nebraska
Wichita St. def. Western Ky., 3-0
*#2 Nebraska def. South Dakota St., 3-0
*#2 Nebraska vs. Wichita St., 5 p.m.