Volleyball Sweeps Blackbirds

by Clyde Verdin
LSU 3, LIU Brooklyn 0 +0
Volleyball Sweeps Blackbirds

BATON ROUGE, La. – Behind an offense that finished with 43 kills and a defense that held the opposition to a sub-.100 hitting clip in the contest, the LSU volleyball team earned its first sweep of the year, defeating the LIU Brooklyn Blackbirds 25-18, 25-22, 25-11 Friday evening inside The Pit to open the Lobo Invitational.

In a match that featured 19 ties and seven lead changes within the first two sets, the Tigers (2-7) snapped their two-match losing skid on Friday by hitting a season-best .244 as a group with their 43 kills to only 14 attack errors. By that same line, LSU held LIU Brooklyn (0-9) to a .051 hitting clip, an opponent season low, as the Blackbirds finished the day with 29 kills to 23 errors.

LIU Brooklyn was not given much to work with offensively as LSU earned double-digit blocks for the second time this season, tying their team season high with 10 as six different players finished with at least two on the night.

LSU’s one-two punch of Cati Leak and Katie Lindelow led the Tiger attack, as Leak led all players with 14 kills on a .275 average, with eight digs, two blocks and an assist, while Lindelow earned a double-double with 12 kills on a .211 percentage, with 10 digs, two service aces and a block. Toni Rodriguez was third with nine kills, hitting .292 with two blocks.

Cheyenne Wood earned her fourth double-double of the season and her third in a row as she finished the night leading LSU in assists and digs, serving up 26 in the victory while corralling 16 digs as well. Haley Smith was second with 10 digs, serving up eight assists while Lindsay Flory had six.

After earning her first start last Sunday, Olivia Beyer returned to the starting lineup and did one better than her previous outing, earning a match-leading five blocks, adding two kills and a dig. Tiara Gibson finished with three, as she was the only other player besides Beyer with a solo blocks.

Tamara Ignjic led LIU Brooklyn with 11 kills, while Dolores Kopren had 14 assists and Adriana Joy Vinas had 19 digs for the Blackbirds in the loss.

There were five ties within the first 10 points of the match between the two sides, however there was just one lead change during that time as the Tigers took the lead going up 3-1 over the Blackbirds before a three-point swing by the opposition gave LIU Brooklyn their very first lead soon after. The Tigers would keep it close, staying within one at 5-4 and again at 10-9 before forcing the Blackbirds into a timeout after a Rodriguez kill to knot the set at 10-10.

Trailing by one, LSU rattled off four consecutive points to regain the lead after a LIU service error, consecutive kills by Lindelow and Flory-Welsh combo block to gain some separation. The Tigers led by as many as four points in the opening frame, fending off a Blackbird rally to lead 20-18, as a Wood misdirection kill forced LIU Brooklyn into their second timeout of the first set.

LIU Brooklyn would be unable to get anything going after the break, and by doing so gave the Tigers a chance to close the door by scoring all four points it needed in order to take the first set 25-18.

Set two was played at a breakneck pace early, as neither side wanted to let the other gain any sort of advantage leading to a 5-all tie after trading points throughout the first 10. However, the Blackbirds got hot and went on a tear, going on a 5-0 run to take a 10-5 lead over the Tigers and forcing LSU into a timeout.

The Tigers began to settle down and began to pick up their tempo, hacking away at the Blackbird lead going on a 7-2 run to tie the set at 12-12. That string gave the team new life as LSU scored three of the next four, including three in a row, to take a 15-13 lead punctuated by a Lindelow kill to force LIU Brooklyn into a timeout.

Undeterred, LIU Brooklyn refused to quit going on a run of its own to take the lead back at 17-16 with LSU calling its final timeout of the set to halt the attack. From there, LSU would spend much of the end of the match doing everything it could to rally, knotting the set before LIU Brooklyn took the lead back.

After a Lindelow kill to tie the frame at 22-22, the momentum completely changed as a Katie Kampen service ace gave the Tigers the lead at 23-22. The Tigers eventually served out the set as a ball-handling error and another Lindelow kill ended the second with a 4-0 swing by LSU to take a two sets lead in the match, winning 25-22.

The Tigers were stifling to open the third, racing out to a 5-1 lead over the Blackbirds as the team was beginning to fire on all cylinders. A long rally that gave both teams opportunities to gain the point resulted in an unassisted kill by Rodriguez to push the Tiger lead to four, with a service ace by Lindelow giving the team a five-point advantage up 9-4.

LIU Brooklyn scored three-straight to pull within two of the Tigers, but a Rodriguez kill ended the rally and allowed LSU to go on one of its own, scoring six of the next seven points to go up 15-8 and force LIU Brooklyn into a timeout. Only getting stronger, LSU came out of the break and got three more points now outscoring LIU Brooklyn 9-1 to go up 18-8 and force the Blackbirds into their final timeout of the match.

By the end of the third, LSU closed the match outscoring LIU Brooklyn 16-4 to earn the sweep taking the third 25-11.

LSU will be back in action Saturday morning, taking on the CSUN Matadors at 11:30 a.m. CT, closing the 2015 Days Inn and Suites Lobo Invitational with New Mexico at 8:30 p.m. in WisePies Arena.

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.