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Volleyball Heads to the Lone Star State for the SMU Invitational

by Keonte' Herrera
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Volleyball Heads to the Lone Star State for the SMU Invitational

BATON ROUGE, La. – The LSU volleyball team will participate in the SMU Invitational Sept. 15-17 at Moody Coliseum in Dallas, Texas, as a final tune-up before stepping into SEC competition. 

LSU (3-4) will open the weekend with a 4 p.m. CT match on Friday, Sept. 15 against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (5-4), take on Texas Tech (6-3) at 2 p.m. CT on Saturday, Sept. 16, and conclude the tournament against host SMU (3-5) at 12:30 p.m. CT on Sunday, Sept. 17. Sunday’s match versus SMU will be the only streamed match for LSU this weekend. Fans can watch the match on ESPN+ with Chris Mycoskie and Shanel Bramschreiber on the call.

Last time out, the Tigers dropped a 3-1 decision to Southeastern Louisiana. LSU has compiled a .256 hitting percentage behind 13.32 kills per set on 12.57 assists per set (No. 5 in SEC). They have also tallied 1.75 aces, 1.89 blocks and 12.71 digs per set.

Outside hitter Jurnee Robinson leads LSU with 4.36 kills per set (122 total) and 4.86 points per set, which ranks No. 3 and No. 4 in the SEC and No. 19 and No. 27 in the NCAA, respectively. Robinson has totaled three matches with 20 or more kills this season and adds 37 digs, 15 blocks and five aces to her season statistics. 

Middle blocker Anita Anwusi leads the SEC and ranks No. 14 in the nation with a .471 hitting percentage. Anwusi has totaled three matches with a hitting percentage over .600 this season and has 66 total kills with a team-high 19 total blocks, including three solos. 

Right side Jade Demps is second on the team with 2.64 kills per set (74 total), seven aces, 15 blocks and 2.36 digs per set (66 total). Demps has put together three consecutive matches with double-digit kill totals. Outside hitter, Sanaa Dotson rounds out the Tigers’ top hitters with 2.48 kills per set and has five aces per set. 

Setter Maddie Waak sits at No. 7 in the SEC with 9.93 assists per set (278 total) and 10 aces this season, and libero Erin Carmichael anchors the defense with 2.77 digs per set (72 total). Carmicheal matches Waak for a team-high 10 aces and ranks No. 37 among NCAA active career leaders with 1,544 total assists.

LSU has a 13-7 record against the SMU Invitational tournament field, including a 3-0 mark against A&M-Corpus Christi, 8-6 versus Texas Tech, and 2-1 against SMU.  

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Versus Texas A&M-Corpus Christi

A&M-Corpus Christi will conclude its non-conference schedule at the SMU Invitational. The Islanders are on a two-match losing streak after dropping two of three matches at its Islander Classic last weekend. The Islanders are averaging 13.23 kills per set with a .248 hitting percentage on 11.29 assists per set. They have registered 59 total aces this season (1.69/set) and account for 1.53 blocks per set (53.5 total). 

Outside hitter Kyndal Payne is the offensive leader with 3.56 kills per set (121 total), adding seven aces, 15 blocks, and 2.56 digs per set. Setter Belle Morgan averages 8.67 assists per set and has 37 kills on the season and outside hitter Tori Arrington leads the team at the net with 15 blocks, which includes nine solo blocks. Libero Kayla White has a team-high 3.60 digs per set and 11 aces.

LSU has swept A&M-Corpus Christi in each match, with the last occurring in 2018.

Versus Texas Tech

Texas Tech started the season with a 4-0 start but has fallen in three of the following five matches, including the last two at North Texas (3-2) and at Abilene Christian (3-1). The Red Raiders are hitting .173 from the floor with 12.00 kills per set but have held opponents to an overall .138 attacking percentage thanks to 3.03 blocks per set (109 total). Texas Tech’s total blocks are the third most in the NCAA, and the team ranks No. 7 in the country in blocks per set.

TTU has four players with 20 or more blocks this season, including outside hitter Brynn Williams, who leads the team with 3.67 kills per set (132 total) and has five aces to add to her 20 blocks. Middle blocker Kate Hansen has an impressive 49 blocks this season (1.44/set) to lead the team, while setter Reese Rhodes follows with 35 blocks and a team-high 8.83 assists per set. Katelyn Cochran also has setting duties and has averaged 7.60 assists per set this season in 15 sets played.

Despite dropping the last two meetings, the Tigers hold an 8-6 edge over the Red Raiders. Saturday will be the first time the two clubs have played each other since 2000.

Versus SMU

SMU is on a two-match losing streak after a pair of four-set losses to then No. 20 Purdue and No. 21 Houston. Overall, SMU has played four nationally ranked programs this season, including a 3-2 win over then No. 14 Baylor on Sept. 6. The Mustangs have gathered a .204 hitting percentage on 12.37 kills and 11.37 assists per set. They have 28 aces on the season and average 2.03 blocks and 15.60 digs per set.

Outside hitters Natalie Perdue (3.00 kills per set) and Naya Shime (2.70 kills per set) lead the Mustangs with 81 total kills. Shime also has 21 blocks this season. Middle blocker Emma Clothier has a team-best 33 blocks (1.10/set) and is second on the team with 71 total kills (2.37/set). Setter Celia Cullen leads the way with 9.43 assists per set (283 total), and libero Brooke Frazier has a team-high 3.31 digs per set.

LSU is on a two-match winning streak after defeating SMU 3-2 in 2018 and 3-1 in 2004, both in Dallas, Texas. 

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