LSU volleyballers fall to defending national champ Kentucky

Senior right side Taylor Bannister became LSU’s all-time leader in kills Thursday night, but LSU fell to 5th ranked and defending NCAA volleyball national champion Kentucky 20-25, 25-23, 20-25, 16-25 in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.

The Tigers (7-10, 3-5 SEC) take on the Wildcats (12-3, 5-0 SEC) again Friday in the PMAC at 8 p.m.

“At times we played really well, we just could not sustain it,” LSU head coach Fran Flory said. “We have to credit Kentucky for being physical and fast, but through portions, we have played about as well as we’ve played all year. The ability to maintain that just comes with doing it more often and for longer periods of time. Overall, I think it was a really good match for us and I liked that we fought. We will be prepared for tomorrow.” 

Bannister tallied 11 kills to get her career total to 1,746. She tied the record, previously held by Nyla Shepherd, during Sunday’s win over Florida. 

Outside hitter Kylie DeBerg led the way with a match-high 17 kills and added two blocks and an ace. Outside hitter Sanaa Dotson added 13 kills on a .306 hitting percentage. 

Libero Raigen Cianciulli had a match-high 20 digs, while setter Ella Larkin posted her ninth double-double with 39 assists and 11 digs.  

Kentucky was led by outside hitters Alli Stumler and Madi Skinner, who had 16 and 15 kills, respectively. Middle blocker Azhani Tealer had 13 kills, and libero Eleanor Beavin had a team-high 14 digs. 

Kentucky recorded more kills (59-52) on a better hitting percentage (.311-.210). Both teams had 50 digs and LSU had five service aces to Kentucky’s seven. 

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