Tigers Defeat Georgia in Four Sets
ATHENS, Ga. — LSU Volleyball (13-13, 9-8 SEC) defeated Georgia (11-17, 7-10 SEC) in four sets (25-21, 25-19, 20-25, 25-19) on Friday afternoon at the Stegeman Coliseum.
In the penultimate match of the season, the Tigers outhit the Bulldogs .326-.220 and logged 61 kills to Georgia’s 48. LSU’s nine aces bested four from Georgia, and they also showed up at the net to the tune of 11 blocks to the Bulldogs six. The Tigers have now won their last five matches when accumulating 10 or more blocks.
Although increasing its winning streak to three in head-to-head matches, LSU snapped its two-match road losing streak at Georgia, picking up the first win in Athens since Oct. 9, 2016.
“I thought we managed our side well,” said head coach Fran Flory. “Our serving got them out of rhythm and although we were high error, nine aces are good against a team this well coached. We knew we needed to balanced and we played balanced today.”
Right side Taylor Bannister led the Tigers with a dominant 22-kill performance on a .474 hitting percentage. The 22 kills for Bannister are a season-high and is the second match in a three-match span with 20 or more kills. The Tiger middle blockers had a big day beginning with Anita Anwusi who contributed 14 kills behind a .478 hitting percentage and tallied three blocks. Allee Morris did a bit of everything, posting eight kills, six blocks (including two solos), and a season-high two service aces. Outside hitter Kylie DeBerg also reached double-figure kills with 11 and added seven digs.
Setter Ella Larkin turned in her fourth consecutive double-double with a match-high 45 assists and 14 digs. Larkin also had a match-high three aces and added three blocks. Libero Raigen Cianciulli recorded her third career double-double with 19 digs and 10 assists. Two of Cianciulli’s three double ups have come against Georgia.
“Our offense worked well today,” Flory said. “Taylor [Bannister] had a special match today and it is always good when our seniors have matches like that. Ella [Larkin] did a great job distributing the ball and our middles were really good. Anita [Anwusi] nearly hit .500 today so she had a nice run and Allee [Morris] scored a ton of points for us today in big moments. It was a nice balanced attack.”
The Bulldogs also had three players record double-digit kills, as outside hitters Kacie Evans and Amber Stivrins recorded 13 and 10 kills, respectively. Opposite Kayla Rivera had 12 kills on a .556 hitting percentage, and defensive specialist Bailey Cox had 16 assists.
- Both teams won three consecutive points as the score was knotted at four, before Morris logged a kill and an ace to give the Tigers a 6-4 advantage.
- Kills by DeBerg, Bannister and Larkin gave LSU a 12-10 lead before Georgia won the next three points. The Tigers regained the lead thanks to outside hitter Sanaa Dotson’s first kill and more kills from Bannister and DeBerg.
- In a set with 13 ties, two kills from UGA’s Kayla Rivera gave the Bulldogs a one-point lead. Morris’ second kill of the match leveled it at 20.
- LSU won five of the match’s final six points to win, 25-21. They hit .353 in the set and accumulated 16 kills.
- Two aces from Larkin and three kills from Bannister gave LSU an early 6-4 advantage.
- The Tigers used a 5-1 run to push their lead to 11-6, capped by an Anwusi kill and DeBerg ace.
- Three kills from Morris paved another run from the Tigers as they won five unanswered points to lead 17-11.
- Bannister recorded five kills for the second straight set. Her fifth kill sealed the set victory for LSU, 25-19.
- Bannister’s momentum continued into the third set as she logged two early kills to give the Tigers a 3-1 lead.
- The Bulldogs went on two separate 6-2 scoring runs to establish a 15-12 edge and force a LSU timeout.
- LSU could only get the deficit to one before Georgia used a 3-0 run to increase its margin to 19-15.
- Kills from Bannister and Anwusi kept the Tigers alive down the stretch, but the Bulldogs were able to take a must-win set by a score of 25-20.
- Three straight points fueled by kills from Bannister and outside hitter Paige Flickinger gave LSU a 9-5 lead. Five more unanswered points extended the Tiger margin to 14-8 and forced the Bulldogs to burn a timeout.
- LSU’s momentum did not halt after the timeout as they added two more points from a DeBerg kill and Flickinger ace to lead, 16-8.
- Georgia continued to battle valiantly, winning six out of seven points before Bannister’s kill stopped the bleeding at 20-16.
- The Tigers closed on a 5-2 run to win the final set, 25-19. Bannister finished the frame with eight kills.
The Tigers will face Georgia again on Friday, Nov. 27, at 1 p.m. in the final regular season match of the season.
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