BATON ROUGE, La. – The LSU volleyball team opened SEC play with a bang as they knocked off No. 20 Arkansas in five sets (21-25, 25-18, 28-26, 21-25, 15-13) Wednesday night at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.
The Tigers (7-4, 1-0 SEC) snapped the Razorbacks’ (9-2, 0-1 SEC) eight-match winning streak, while improving a four-match winning streak of their own in SEC home openers dating back to 2019.
After falling in the opening set 25-21, LSU fired back with a 25-18 win in the second set and a 28-26 win in the third. Arkansas forced a fifth set after taking the fourth 25-21, but a tightly contested deciding set resulted in a 15-13 result for the home team, giving LSU its first win over a nationally ranked opponent this season.
“We showed true grit tonight,” said head coach Tonya Johnson. “We did not start out the match very well, but we fought and got ourselves back in it and most importantly, we stayed mentally tough throughout the match. Arkansas is a very good team, so I loved the way my team competed tonight against a team of this caliber.”
Although LSU hit .184 in the match, they held UA to a .158 hitting percentage, making them the third consecutive opponent to be held under .200 and the fourth in a five-match span. The Tigers matched a season-high 11 blocks and set a new season best with 84 digs. Both clubs logged four aces in the match.
Outside hitter Sanaa Dotson continues to have the hot hand as she turned in her third double-double this season behind 20 kills and 12 digs, while adding two aces and one block. It is the third time this season where Dotson has logged 20 or more kills in a match. Outside hitter Paige Flickinger also logged a double-double as she set new season-high marks with 15 kills and 17 digs. She also had one ace and one block. Middle blocker Anita Anwusi rounded out the double-digit kill leaders as she found the floor 11 times for a new season-high and had a match-high eight blocks, including one solo block.
Setter Josie Vondran registered her second double-double as an LSU Tiger and the third double-double of her career with 38 assists and a career-best 19 digs that led the team. Vondran also tallied three blocks and had one kill. Setter Maddie Waak also handed out 15 helpers and had seven digs in the win.
Libero Ella Larkin completes a group of four players with 10 or more digs as she finished the match with 17. Larkin, along with Dotson and Flickinger marked the first time LSU had three players log 15 or more digs since Raigen Cianciulli (21), Lindsay Flory (17) and Katie Kampen (16) did it against Texas A&M on September 30, 2018.
- LSU took an early timeout as they trailed 7-2 but responded by tying the set at 16 to force an Arkansas timeout.
- The Razorbacks went on a 4-2 run when the Tigers used their final timeout. UA closed the set by scoring seven of the final nine points to take the opening frame, 25-21.
- The second stanza saw 11 ties and four lead changes when LSU took a 15-12 lead into the media timeout behind a 4-0 run.
- The Tigers continued to hold the momentum and led 17-13 when the Razorbacks took their first timeout of the frame.
- LSU would not give up its edge and evened the match 1-1 with a 25-18 victory.
- The Tigers hit .429 in the set led by Dotson’s five kills. Anwusi and Jacobs each had three kills.
- The Tigers used a 5-0 run to go ahead 9-6 and the Razorbacks signaled to use their first timeout of the set.
- Arkansas tied the set at 14, but LSU increased its lead to 21-17 thanks to a 4-1 run when the Razorbacks used its final timeout.
- The Tigers proceeded to score three of the next four points to make the score 24-18, but Arkansas fought off five consecutive set points to tie the set at 24.
- After both teams exchanged blows to a 26-26 score, kills from Anwusi and Dotson ended the set as LSU took a 2-1 match lead.
- Dotson dominated the set with eight kills and Flickinger added five kills.
- LSU scored the first three points and led by as many as four points at 11-7, but Arkansas pieced together a 5-0 run to take a 12-11 lead to provoke an LSU timeout.
- The Tigers pushed back and tied the set at 20, but the Razorbacks closed the set on a 5-1 run to force a fifth set.
- The clubs played their way to a 7-7 tie until Dotson landed her 18th kill of the night to give LSU an 8-7 lead as the teams switched sides.
- After Arkansas tied the set at eight, a kill from Dotson and an attacking error from the Razorbacks put LSU up 10-8. A 3-1 run by the visiting tied the set again at 11 and LSU called timeout.
- Both teams traded points to a 13-13 score before another attacking error by UA gave LSU a 14-13 lead. Arkansas called for time and once both teams returned to play, Anwusi and Vondran ended the match with a block, giving LSU the 15-13 win.
LSU hits the road for the third consecutive weekend for a two-match series at No. 15 Kentucky Sept. 24-25.
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