Volleyball Grinds Out Four-Setter at Rice

by Matt Dunaway
Printable Box Score +0
Volleyball Grinds Out Four-Setter at Rice

HOUSTON – Briana Holman and Katie Lindelow provided their first career double-doubles en route to Rice Invitational All-Tournament Team honors, and the LSU volleyball team earned a hard-fought four-set victory over Rice [26-28, 25-15, 25-19, 31-29] Saturday evening at Tudor Fieldhouse.

LSU (6-0) racked up a season’s best 19 blocks and converted on 60-of-92 sideout attempts to claim a 65 percent ratio for the match. The Tigers have won now 19 of 22 all-time meetings versus Rice (1-5). 

Malorie Pardo directed LSU’s offense to 66 kills and a .288 team hitting percentage. She filled the stats sheet with 61 assists, six digs, four blocks and three blocks. For the second consecutive match, Pardo matched her career-high with four stuffs.

Holman cranked 15 kills on a .423 hitting percentage to go along with a career-best 10 blocks. It marked her fourth straight match with double figure kills as the DeSoto, Texas native garnered tournament MVP honors. She also is the first LSU player since former All-American Brittnee Cooper in 2009, 12 kills and 12 blocks versus Denver on Aug. 29, to collect a double dip with kills and blocks.

Lindelow, an all-tournament team pick, registered a career-high 10 kills and 11 digs. She knocked six of her spikes as LSU erased a 21-14 fourth-set deficit.

On the back row, Haley Smith stretched out for a career-best 24 digs in her second career start at the libero position. Laura Whalen added 11 scoops and was a perfect 21-for-21 in reception attempts.

“I’m thought our team came out and played within their comfort zone after losing the first set,” head coach Fran Flory said. “We had some stabilizing forces on our side of the net. Malorie made some excellent decisions and did some great things as a veteran setter when we needed her to. I thought our blocking also came through in a big way during critical situations, and Haley made some tremendous plays on the back row. Not only did she make the play, she accurately dug the ball to the target which provided transition opportunities on offense. Lastly, Katie decided that she was going to be an offensive factor for us late in the fourth set. It’s not easy when you ask someone to play as many rolls as we ask Katie to play for our team. We knew it was going to take her some time for her to find an offensive rhythm, but we’re glad she found it tonight.”

Cati Leak compiled a solid all-around effort with a match-leading 21 kills, seven digs and three blocks for the TIgers. Khourtni Fears tied her career-high with nine kills on a .500 hitting ratio and recorded six blocks to come away with all-tournament accolades. LSU also received seven kills and six blocks from Madi Mahaffey.

Rice was led by Mariah Riddlesprigger’s 16 kills, Sara Blasier’s 42 assists and Danielle Arenas’ 23 digs.

The Owls fired out to an early 8-3 advantage to begin the fourth set. Riddlesprigger tallied two kills coupled with a trio of LSU hitting miscues. The Tigers pulled back to within 15-13 following consecutive kills from Mahaffey and Leak. Rice was poised to send the match to a winner-take-all fifth set and reeled off six of the next seven points to push its lead back to a 21-14 margin. However, LSU dug deep and charged back behind Lindelow’s six kills. The Tigers also got two blocks from Fears to spark a 10-3 spurt and snatch a 24-23 edge. Rice regrouped and had four set points of its own, the latest at 28-27. Holman crushed a sideout spike and teamed with Pardo for a stuff to turn the tables to 29-28. After an Owl sideout, Holman hammered another kill followed by a Rice attacking error to send LSU to the winner’s circle, 31-29.

“We challenged our players late in the fourth set because we thought Rice would fold if we kept putting pressure on them,” Flory said. “We thought they would try too hard because we tried during the early portions of that set. We absolutely took over, and Katie was the one that made the comeback happen. To come back on opponents’ home court like we did is a huge step for our young team.”  

“It’s been a long time since I’ve been able to hit the ball like that during a match,” Lindelow said. “The passing was great, and Malorie put the ball in the right place at the right time. It felt great to play front row again, but I’m happy to help the team wherever they need me.”   

The two teams traded a match-leading 13 ties and five lead chances in the opening set. Neither team could gain more than a three-point lead during the early stages until a Rice block on Holman put the Owls ahead, 19-15. At 21-17, LSU made a late surge aided by two kills and a block courtesy of Fears to knot the tally at 21-21. The Tigers had two chances to close out the opening stanza, but Rice received sideout spikes from Riddlesprigger and Kylie Reed. It was Riddlesprigger who delivered the final blow to vault the Owls to the 28-26 victory.

“We know we didn’t play our best volleyball during that first set,” Lindelow said. “Credit Rice because they made the plays they needed to. We have to come in and expect to play well every match. That’s the mentality that we have to have to be successful. I’m glad we were all able to pull together and find a way to win the match.”

LSU seized the momentum from the outset of set two and turned up the defensive intensity fueled by two blocks which involved Holman and Mahaffey to build a 6-1 lead. The Tigers had their advantage trimmed to a single point two times, the latest at 12-11. LSU responded with a strong finishing kick and ripped off 13 of the final 17 points to tuck away a convincing 25-15 win. Leak blasted six kills, and Pardo set the Tigers to a .357 hitting clip to even the match at a set apiece.  

Out of the locker room, LSU clicked on all cylinders to take the pivotal third set. The Tigers racked up 15 kills on 30 errorless swings, totaled a 78 sideout percent efficiency and notched eight blocks. With LSU up 18-16, the Tigers scored five consecutive times via the block. Two of the stuffs involved Fears followed by the Holman-Mahaffey duo which enabled LSU to stretch its lead to 23-17. Holman closed the set in-style with back-to-back spikes to give the Tigers a 25-19 triumph. 

“Malorie is the only person that isn’t going to come off the court for us,” Flory said. “That’s a tough roll to deal with. She’s chasing down balls for us all over the place. I thought she managed this type of match like a veteran setter would. She’s the quarterback on the court for us. She understands how to manage different situations, our hitters and opposing blockers. Malorie did a great an outstanding job of feeding our middles when we needed to and relied on our outsides when we had to.”

LSU continues its three-weekend road swing with a pair of matches against Miami. Friday’s first serve is on-tap for 6 p.m. CT followed by a 4:30 p.m. CT opening serve on Saturday. Both matches will have live audio and live stats available for free inside the Geaux Zone at www.LSUsports.net/live.

For all of the latest news and information on Tiger volleyball, visit www.lsusports.net/volleyball. Fans can also follow the program on its social media outlets at www.Facebook.com/lsuvolleyball along with @lsuvolleyball and @lsucoachfran on Twitter and @lsuvb on Instagram.
2013 Rice Invitational All-Tournament Team
MVPBriana Holman [LSU]
Lizzy Bache – Rice
Ivy Baresh – Texas A&M Corpus Christi
Edina Begic – UALR
Khourtni Fears [LSU]
Katie Lindelow [LSU]
Sonja Milanovic – UALR