BATON ROUGE, La. – LSU turned the tables late and handed Auburn its first loss of the 2023 season in five sets (25-22, 20-25, 20-25, 25-21, 15-12) Wednesday night at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.
After taking the first set 25-22, LSU (10-6, 4-2 SEC) dropped the next two frames 25-20 and was down 14-6 in the fourth set before a 12-4 run by the home team changed the complexion of the match. Auburn (14-1, 3-1 SEC) gave up the fourth set 25-21 and the Fighting Tigers took the fifth set 15-12 to complete the comeback.
The LSU Tigers have played five-set matches in five of its last six contest since beginning SEC play and has lost only one of those matches. The win improves LSU’s win streak over Auburn to seven and are now 26-5 in head-to-head meetings against Auburn in Baton Rouge.
“I could not be prouder of a team that I am of this team,” said head coach Tonya Johnson. “The grit and fight we showed was unbelievable. We could have laid down in the fourth set, but we made up our minds that we wanted to come back and wanted to compete. We wanted to finish, and we did. The execution at the end of set four and in set five was just high-level volleyball. I am super proud of them, and I hope that this is a win that gave us confirmation on how good of a team we can be if we put our minds to it and focus on what needs to be done.”
The Fighting Tigers held AU to a .196 hitting percentage, making them the ninth opponent this season to hit under .200. LSU totaled 10 blocks in the match and dug 82 balls. Offensively, LSU hit .202 in the match behind 60 kills on 57 assists and had five aces.
Outside hitter Sanaa Dotson turned in her fifth double-double of the season with 22 kills and 13 digs. It was her fifth match with 20 or more kills, and she added three blocks in the win. Outside hitter Paige Flickinger followed with a double-double of her own as she put down 11 kills and 11 digs with a match-high two aces. Right side Hannah Jacobs turned in 10 kills behind a .333 hitting percentage and had one block.
Middle blocker Anita Anwusi led LSU with six blocks and added seven kills, while defensive specialist Jill Bohnet set a career-high 24 digs in the win. Libero Ella Larkin completes a list of four Tigers with 10 or more digs with 16 and had one ace.
Setters Josie Vondran and Maddie Waak directed the offense well. Vondran was a dig shy of a double-double as she handed out 30 assists and finished with five blocks and three kills. Waak had 21 assists and matched Flickinger’s two aces.
- LSU jumped out to a 9-4 lead thanks to a 5-0 run to force Auburn into its first timeout of the match.
- The Fighting Tigers were the first to 15 and despite Auburn trimming the deficit to one point at 15-14, the home team stretched its lead to 20-16 when Auburn called its second timeout.
- Auburn pulled within one point again, but LSU closed out the set with a pair of kills from Dotson and won the opening set, 25-22.
- Anwusi and Flickinger lead the LSU Tigers with four kills each, followed by three kills each from Dotson and Vondran.
- The LSU Tigers led 15-13 at the media timeout, but Auburn tied the match at 18 when LSU signaled for time.
- Auburn continued its 4-0 run and led 20-18 when LSU called its final timeout of the set. The visiting club used an overall 9-2 scoring run to close the set, highlighted by seven unanswered points and tied the match 1-1 after a 25-20 set win.
- Auburn’s momentum continued in the third as LSU took a timeout trailing 9-6. LSU used its final timeout down 18-13.
- LSU went on a 4-1 run out of the break, bringing the score to 19-17, but Auburn held its advantage and won the set 25-20.
- LSU was down 10-6 when they elected to burn the first timeout of the set and Auburn grew its lead to 14-6 when LSU called their final timeout.
- The Purple and Gold reeled off a 6-2 run to force Auburn into a timeout as they trimmed the deficit, 16-12. The run continued for LSU however, and the home team tied the set at 18 behind another 6-2 run highlighted by five unanswered points.
- After Auburn burned its final timeout, the clubs traded points until a Flickinger kill sparked a 3-0 run to make the score 22-20, LSU. The LSU Tigers went on to end the set on a 3-1 run and won the frame 25-21.
- LSU hit .366 in the set and was led by an impressive nine kills on 15 errorless swings from Dotson (.600). LSU also totaled four blocks in the stanza.
- LSU exploded to a 5-1 lead forcing Auburn into a timeout and used an overall 7-0 run to build an 8-1 margin when the teams switched sides.
- The Fighting Tigers completed an 8-0 run before AU scored its next point, but a 4-0 run by the visiting club made the count 9-5 and LSU called a timeout.
- Auburn got within three points at 10-7, but a pair of kills from Dotson pushed LSU’s lead to 12-7 when Auburn called its final timeout. AU made another comeback attempt however and used a 3-0 run to bring the score to 13-11 when LSU used its final timeout.
- After the timeout, Flickinger landed a kill, Auburn responded with a kill, and Jacobs sealed the match with a kill to complete the 15-12 set.
- Dotson continued to stay hot as she led LSU with four kills and two blocks in the deciding set.
LSU will hit the road for a weekend series at Florida Oct. 8-9.
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