BATON ROUGE, La. – The LSU volleyball team (1-2) will host its second consecutive weekend tournament as they welcome Troy (2-1), Iowa State (1-2), and No. 21 Penn State (3-0) to the 2022 Tiger Challenge September 2-3 inside the Pete Maravich Assembly Center (PMAC).
The Tigers start the weekend with a 10 a.m. match Friday, Sept. 2 versus Troy before ending the day with a 7:30 p.m. first serve against Iowa State. LSU will conclude the weekend with a 3 p.m. contest against its first ranked opponent this season, No. 21 Penn State.
LSU is coming off a 1-2 weekend in the Tiger Classic. After sweeping Samford in the season opener, the Tigers dropped a four-set match to Houston and a five-set match to Rice. Overall, the newly constructed team showed positive signs as they outhit their opponents .224-.187 and logged more kills (165-137) and digs (195-167) than the opposition.
Outside hitter Sanaa Dotson paced the Tiger offense with 4.33 kills per set (52 total) and had four aces. Dotson opened the season with her first career LSU double-double with 15 kills and 11 digs versus Samford, and turned in a LSU career-high 21 kills with a .319 hitting percentage and a career-best three aces against Rice. Right side Hannah Jacobs followed with 3.00 kills per set (36 total) and had 10 total blocks on the weekend. Outside hitter Samarah Hill rounded out the top hitters with 2.50 kills per set (25 total) and added 2.10 digs on average.
Josie Vondran and Maddie Waak split setter duties last weekend. Vondran received most of the reps and average 9.30 assists per set over 10 sets and had a weekend-high 38 assists against Rice. Waak, a true freshman, made her collegiate debut against Houston and had a team-high 28 assists in the match. Waak concluded the weekend with 10.25 assists per set in four sets played.
Libero Ella Larkin ended last weekend as the SEC leader with 65 total digs and 5.42 digs per set, highlighted by a career-high 34 digs against Rice. Middle blocker Anita Anwusi also anchored the defense at the net with a team-high 1.00 blocks per set (12 total) and chipped in 1.75 kills per set (21 total).
Troy will enter the Tiger Challenge on a two-match winning streak. After being swept by Georgia Friday in their first match of the Classic City Clash in Athens, Ga., the Trojans bounced back Saturday with a 3-2 win over Santa Clara and got passed Chattanooga in four sets Saturday. Outside hitter Tori Hester led Troy last weekend with 4.58 kills per set and had five aces, while outside hitter Amiah Butler followed with 3.36 kills per set. Senior setter Amara Anderson handed out 10.75 assists per set (129 total) and snuck in seven kills and four aces.
Iowa State began its season at the Rumble in the Rockies tournament in Laramie, Wyo. where they were swept by No. 18 Creighton, defeated tournament host Wyoming, 3-1, and fell to Wichita State, 3-2 to conclude the weekend. Outside hitter Eleanor Holthaus led the charge offensively for ISU with 3.50 kills per set and a .313 hitting percentage. Outside hitter Mariah Mitchell averaged 2.73 kills per set and logged 1.09 blocks per set in the tournament. Middle blocker Alexis Engelbrecht led the Cyclones’ defense with 1.17 blocks per set that featured three solo blocks.
Penn State hosted the Penn State Invitational last weekend where they came out unblemished after sweeping UConn and defeated Loyola (Md.) and West Virginia, 3-1. Outside hitter Kashauna Williams led the Nittany Lions with 3.14 kills per set and a .375 hitting percentage, while also contributing 1.14 blocks per set. Williams joins a trio of players who ended the weekend averaging better than 1.00 blocks per set, including middle blockers Allie Holland (1.64/set) and Taylor Trammell (1.18/set). Outside hitter Zoe Weatherington paced the way with 31 total kills and averaged 2.82 kills per set with a .302 hitting percentage, and setter Seleisa Elisaia handed out 112 total assists (10.18/set), logged 10 kills, 10 blocks and averaged 2.64 digs per set.
LSU is 4-14 all-time against the 2022 Tiger Challenge tournament field. The Tigers are 0-1 against Troy, 2-2 versus Iowa State and 2-11 against Penn State. LSU will host Troy and Iowa State for the first time ever, while Penn State makes its return to Baton Rouge since 2006.
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