LSU volleyball gets first SEC sweep of the season

A night after being extended to five sets in an opening victory, LSU’s volleyball team was able to make quick work of South Carolina in a three-set triumph Sunday in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.

LSU (7-11) enjoyed its first Southeastern Conference sweep of the season, putting the finishing touches on Sunday’s 27-25, 25-22, 25-19 victory over South Carolina (12-8).

The Tigers survived an ebb and flow in Saturday’s five-set marathon by winning the first two sets (25-18, 25-9), overcoming setbacks in the third and fourth sets (25-21, 25-21) to pull out the match with a 15-8 win in the clinching set.

“In the end, we fought together better than we fought together,” LSU volleyball coach Fran Flory said. “Our team spirit and chemistry were the difference. Our team stayed together. The spirit and fight and mentality that our team had made the difference in these matches.”

Senior hitter Taylor Bannister totaled 40 kills in the two matches with six digs and four blocks to lead the way. She had 15 of those kills in Sunday’s sweep with Paige Flickinger adding nine kills and 11 digs and setter Kari Rose adding her seventh double-double of the season with 26 assists and 11 digs.

LSU, which led 13-11 in Sunday’s first set, had to rally from a 16-15 deficit and did so on the strength of a 4-1 run out of a timeout to lead 19-17.

Whitney Foreman’s block gave LSU a 5-1 lead in the second set and the Tigers withstood a charge from the Gamecocks to lead 13-9 on an ace from Hannah Brister, extending that margin to 19-14 and finally 25-22.

LSU opened a 10-4 lead in the final set with Flickinger providing a kill and Bannister one of her two service aces. The Tigers steadily pulled away 13-6 and 17-11.

Bannister delivered 25 kills, Brister 12 and Flickinger 10 during a performance where LSU compiled a season-high hitting percentage (.312). Rose had a match-high 50 assists with Flickinger adding 15 digs and four aces.

In the Tigers’ 25-9 win in the second set, it was the fewest points allowed in a set since 2010 and the fewest in a SEC match ’09.

“That’s a team that feels like they’re on the NCAA Tournament bubble and have a chance, so it was nice to play a quality opponent that way,” Flory said of her team’s effort against South Carolina. “It was a great match for us to mature and grow up through and understand the aspects we can control versus the aspects we can’t control and respond to that.”

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