Volleyball Comes Up Short Versus No. 20 Tennessee, 3-2
BATON ROUGE, La. – LSU Volleyball (8-12, 4-7 SEC) was edged by No. 20 Tennessee (16-3, 8-1 SEC) on Saturday night in five sets (14-25, 25-23, 19-25, 25-22, 13-15) at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.
Libero Raigen Cianciulli became the Southeastern Conference’s All-Time leader in digs, as her match-high 23 digs gave her a career total of 2,146.
In an evenly matched thriller, the Vols won the attacking battle, with 63 kills on a .261 hitting percentage. LSU logged 58 kills on a .203 hitting percentage. The Tigers had 69 digs to Tennessee’s 63, but the Vols had more service aces (11-6) and blocks (12-6).
“I thought we played really tough,” said head coach Fran Flory. “We did not play well, but we played tough and stood toe-to-toe with a good team. Their blocking took us out of our offense a little bit, but I am proud of our defense, and we had some great individual performances. We feel if we can be more efficient and play well, we will have a better opportunity next time.”
LSU had four players hit double-digit kills for the first time this season. Right side Taylor Bannister recorded her third double-double of the season, tallying 13 kills and 12 digs. Outside hitters Sanaa Doston and Hannah Brister each recorded 12 kills, and middle blocker Anita Anwusi added 10 kills and four blocks.
Setter Ella Larkin posted 47 assists and 8 digs, and outside hitter Paige Flickinger had three aces, two kills, and eight digs.
Tennessee was led by outside hitter Breana Runnels, who posted a double-double on 21 kills and 14 digs. Middle blocker Danielle Mahaffey had 13 kills and seven blocks, and right side Morgahn Fingall logged 11 kills and five blocks.
Bannister gave LSU a 3-2 lead before Tennessee fired off six consecutive points to lead, 8-3.
The Tigers won three straight points to cut the lead to 12-8, but the Vols took the next five to force an LSU timeout at 17-8.
Tennessee stayed aggressive and pulled away to take the first set, 25-14.
With the score locked at three, LSU took four unanswered thanks to a Bannister kill and a Flickinger ace.
Tennessee won two straight points to trail 13-11, but the Tigers responded with two of their own through a Dotson kill and a Larkin ace to lead, 15-11.
LSU continued to serve the ball effectively in the set, as two more aces from defensive specialist Emmaline Walters helped push the lead to 19-14.
Down 24-18 and facing set point, the Vols won five consecutive points to force the issue, but LSU took the pivotal point thanks to another Dotson kill to win, 25-23.
Both teams had responses for each other, as there were eight early ties. With the score level at nine, the Vols won four straight points to lead 13-9 and force an LSU timeout.
The Tigers pulled within two points on two separate occasions, but the Lady Vols ran away with the set, 25-19.
Anwusi led the Tigers with four kills on four errorless swings, while Bannister, Brister and Dotson followed with three kills each.
Both teams traded points and runs before Tennessee used its first timeout with the Tigers ahead 13-10.
Tennessee used a 5-1 run to grab a 16-15 edge and force an LSU timeout.
From there, the teams tied three different times and UT led 21-19 before the Tigers closed the set on a 6-1 run to win the set, 25-22.
The Lady Vols jumped out to a 7-4 lead, and later led 10-6, burning through both LSU timeouts.
The Tigers used a 5-1 run capped by a kill from Anwusi to pull within one point, 13-12.
Two kills from Tennessee’s Mahaffey closed out the set, 15-13, as the Lady Vols edged out the win.
The Tigers will take on Tennessee again Sunday, Oct. 24, at 2 p.m. It is senior recognition day and will be broadcast on ESPNU.
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