Volleyball Takes Set From No. 11 Florida, Falls 3-1
GAINESVILLE, Fla — The LSU volleyball team couldn’t salvage a weekend split, winning one set but falling at the hands of No. 11 Florida , 3-1 (25-12, 25-22, 21-25, 25-19) on Sunday afternoon in the O’Connell Center in front of 2,419 fans.
The Tigers (5-4, 0-2 SEC) struggled to begin the contest, hitting an abysmal -.091 in the first set behind just six kills. Despite gradual improvement throughout, the Tigers’ final marks of .115 and 43 kills were not enough. That was compared to .265 and 50 kills for the Gators. Additionally, Florida (8-1, 2-0 SEC) led with 48 digs to 39 for LSU and blocks, 10-9.
“I think we had a decent physical performance today, but we had a very poor mental performance,” LSU head coach Fran Flory said. “To beat good teams on their home court you have to be able to put all the pieces together. At times we had that going for us, and then we’d make a silly mental error and we did not do a very good job of rebounding from that. Florida did a very nice job of staying balanced. They won the ball control war, and ultimately that was the determining factor.”
Kyna Washington and Lauren DeGirolamo both posted double-figure kills for the Tigers with 12 and 10, respectively. DeGirolamo also led the team in hitting efficiency with a .381 clip. Brittney Johnson had her best match of the year at setter, dishing out 32 assists and collecting eight digs defensively. That was second to only senior Libero Elena Martinez, who recorded 10. Brittnee Cooper‘s six blocks at the net led LSU as well.
The Gators were led by a trio of hitters with double-figure kills in Colleen Ward (15), Kristy Jaeckel (13) and Kelly Murphy (10). All-American UF libero Elyse Cucask led the match with 21 digs. Middle Blocker Kelsey Bowers also topped all competitors with seven blocks and a .625 hitting percentage on five kills.
The Gators opened up a 6-0 lead early in set one before the Tigers even scored their first point. LSU finally used its first timeout when down 12-3. But things didn’t get much better as Florida closed out the set on a kill from Bowers. Florida hit an efficient .333 in the opening stanza compared to a negative clip of -.091 for LSU.
The second set started better for the Tigers, who were tied with the Gators at 6-all. But then Florida went on a four-point run to make it10-6 and cause LSU to use a timeout. LSU got back within two and hung around that margin until Florida opened up another four-point advantage at 20-16, following which the Tigers called another timeout. Florida had match point at 24-18, but LSU fought off four match points until the Gators called a timeout up 24-22. UF then used a short tip to catch the Tigers off guard and close out the second set, 25-22.
The Tigers improved their hitting percentage in set two with a .171 clip. The Gators stayed above .300, however, at .312.
LSU took their first lead of the match by scoring the first point in set three. They increased that lead to 8-2, forcing a Gator timeout. Florida climbed right back in, and LSU used a timeout of its own with the lead at only a point at 9-8. The ensuing point went the Gators’ way to tie it up.
The remainder of the set stayed close with the Tigers holding a slight advantage throughout. They were able to maintain the lead, eventually taking the third set, 25-21. It was just the third set Florida had dropped except for in its one loss. LSU hit .290 in that set and held UF to just .091.
But the Gators were able to rebound and come back strong in the fourth set. LSU got within a few points at several moments, but in the end the set and match went to UF with a 25-19 victory in the fourth frame, again holding LSU below .100 and hitting above .300 as a team.
The Tigers return to Baton Rouge and are set to open their home slate next weekend versus Tennessee and Kentucky.