Volleyball Upsets No. 20 Florida, 3-1
BATON ROUGE — LSU Volleyball (7-9, 3-4 SEC) defeated T-No. 20 Florida (11-6, 4-2 SEC) Sunday afternoon in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center, 3-1. LSU dropped the first set, 25-22, before winning the final three sets, 25-17, 25-21, 25-21.
It is the Tigers’ first win over Florida since Nov. 13, 2009, snapping a 19-match losing streak. It is LSU’s third win over Florida since 1992 and first Top 25 victory since Nov. 10, 2019, when they defeated No. 25 Texas A&M. It also marks the first Top 25 victory in the PMAC since Oct. 10, 2010, when the Tigers beat No. 22 Tennessee.
“We finally executed at a high level for a long time. I am proud of our kids,” said head coach Fran Flory. “We found a good rhythm and flow. We have a lot of physical players, but the bottom line is that we became better volleyball players today and we played the game differently. A win against Florida is always a great win for anybody and we are proud of that but I am more proud of the step we took and level of execution and toughness that we showed.”
LSU outhit Florida, .261-.170. It is the Gators’ second-lowest hitting percentage of the season. The Tigers had 61 kills to Florida’s 53 and won the blocking battle as well (11-7).
LSU was led by outside hitter Kylie DeBerg, who had 21 kills, her highest in a conference match this season, and 10 digs. It was her fifth double-double on the year and her fourth match with 20 or more kills.
Right side Taylor Bannister tied the LSU program record for career kills (1,735) and is poised to break the record in her next match. The record has stood since 1991 and is currently shared with Nyla Shepherd. Bannister posted her second double-double this season with 15 kills and 11 digs, while also adding four blocks and a pair of aces.
“Taylor [Bannister] had a great bounce back game,” said Flory. “She is a big key to our team and opponenta have focused heavily on her. To reach those stats and handle that pressure – I don’t think anyone understands the load she carries. She is a much better volleyball player than she even knows and is worthy of this title.”
Outside hitter Sanaa Dotson also contributed 10 kills and freshman setter Ella Larkin directed the offense with 41 assists and 19 digs. Libero Raigen Cianciulli had a game-high 25 digs and added eight assists.
Florida’s outside hitter T’Ara Caesar led the way with 15 kills and 16 digs, and outside hitter Thayer Hall had 13 kills and 10 digs.
- Kills from Bannister, DeBerg, and Cianciulli gave LSU a 4-3 lead before Florida rallied for four straight points to lead 7-4.
- The Gators were able to maintain a lead through the beginning of the set and a block assist from Caesar and middle blocker Lauren Dooley made it 15-9.
- LSU fired off eight of the next nine points to take a 17-16 lead. Florida responded with a 6-2 run to lead 22-19.
- Outside hitter Paige Flickinger recorded a service ace to cut the lead to one, but kills from Florida’s Hall and outside hitter Merritt Beason gave them the first set, 25-22.
- Three early DeBerg kills gave LSU an early 5-1 lead before a Florida timeout.
- The Tigers kept Florida at arm’s length and when the Gators made it 9-5, LSU took five out of six to lead 14-6.
- Fittingly, DeBerg closed out the set with a service ace to lead LSU to a 25-17 win.
- The teams traded early punches before the Gators took four straight points to lead 7-3.
- LSU climbed out of that hole quickly, taking five straight points to lead 10-9 before Florida tied the set for the fifth time.
- Florida took a 14-13 lead before LSU fired off seven out of eight points to lead 20-15.
- The Gators clawed back to a 21-19 score and force an LSU timeout. With LSU up 22-21, a long rally resulted in the Tigers scurrying to get the ball over the net before a deflection gave them the point.
- LSU would take the final two points to win the set, 25-21.
- It was another evenly fought set with 15 ties and seven lead changes.
- LSU scored four consecutive points to lead 4-1, but Florida responded with three of their own to level the score.
- Florida won three straight points before LSU responded with a 3-0 run to lead 15-14 at the media timeout.
- With LSU trailing 19-18, the Tigers went on a 7-2 run to close out the set and the match, 25-21.
The Tigers will be back in the PMAC on Thursday, Oct. 14, against Kentucky at 7 pm. The match will be shown on SEC Network+.
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