LEXINGTON, Ky. - The LSU volleyball team knocked off No. 15 Kentucky, 3-2 (19-25, 25-17, 25-22, 15-25, 15-11) Saturday at the Memorial Coliseum.
The win marks the first road victory over a nationally ranked opponent for the Tigers since defeating No. 12 Kentucky in five sets on October 19, 2014.
It is also the first time the Tigers have defeated nationally ranked opponents in consecutive matches since 1992 when they defeated No. 23 Houston on November 15, 1992, and then No. 17 Kentucky on November 20, 1992. Both results were sweeps for LSU.
"This is a huge win for us on the road," said head coach Tonya Johnson. "Obviously it's always tough to play on the road and Kentucky is a good team and ranked 15th in the country and knowing that I thought our kids responded. In the first set I do not think we came out focused and ready to go and they took it to us. But from the second set on I felt our kids did a great job taking control of the match and took care of the ball on our side of the net. I could not be prouder of this group of young ladies today."
LSU (8-4, 2-0 SEC) set a program record .364 attack percentage for a five-set match behind 63 kills on 140 swings and 12 errors. The 12 errors were the fewest in a five-set match in program history (error records since 1999). LSU held Kentucky (5-5, 0-1 SEC) to a .276 hitting percentage. The Wildcats came into the match with a SEC-best .304 hitting percentage. The Tigers logged 11 blocks to match a season-high for the third time.
"We have been talking about hitting efficiency in terms of our shot selection, what the sets are giving us and just making better choices," Johnson said. "I thought tonight all of our hitters, our pins and middles did a great job of using the block, tooling the block and keeping the ball in play when we were not in a position to put it away. We hit smart shots tonight. And kudos to our setters. They ran a heck of an offense and did what we asked them to do from a scout perspective and was able to execute."
Outside hitter Sanaa Dotson turned in her second consecutive match with 20 kills and hit .432 in the match. Dotson also added nine digs and had one ace. Outside hitter Paige Flickinger dropped her second consecutive double-double with 14 kills and 14 digs. Flickinger had a .312 hitting percentage and had three blocks, including two solo blocks and one ace. Right side Hannah Jacobs finished with 13 kills behind a .423 hitting percentage to round out the top hitters.
Setter Josie Vondran handed out 30 assists and had a career-high six blocks, while setter Maddie Waak contributed 20 assists in the win.
Middle blocker Anita Anwusi led the Tigers with eight blocks and chipped in five kills, and libero Ella Larkin dug a team-high 17 digs to go along with five assists.
Kentucky scored first in the set, but LSU grabbed its first lead at 8-7 thanks to a 4-0 run. The Wildcats would respond however by scoring six of the next eight points and took a 13-10 advantage when the Tigers used their first timeout. The Tigers scored the first two points out of the break, but the Wildcats continued to expand their margin and led 20-15 when LSU called for its final timeout of the set. LSU scored the first two points out of the timeout again, but Kentucky ended the set on a 5-2 run to take the opening frame, 25-19.
- At the media timeout, LSU was ahead 15-13 in a set that saw nine ties and five lead changes up to that point. The Tigers stretched their run to four unanswered points and led 17-13 when Kentucky took its first timeout in the match.
- The timeout did not stop the Tigers momentum though and the Wildcats used their final timeout as they trailed 23-17. LSU won the second set 25-17 behind an overall 12-5 run, highlighted by a 3-0 run to close the set.
- LSU hit .583 in the frame behind 14 kills on 24 errorless swings. Dotson led the charge with six kills and Flickinger followed with four.
- The Tigers run continued into the third set as they scored the first three points to complete a 6-0 run. LSU led 13-9 when Kentucky used its first timeout of the set.
- LSU was the first to 20 at 20-18 despite a tight set and was up 22-19 when Kentucky burned its final timeout.
- LSU used a timeout with Kentucky cutting the lead down to 23-21, but the visiting team escaped with a 25-22 win to take a 2-1 match lead.
- Jacobs led the Tigers with six kills in the set, while Anwusi found the floor three times and had three blocks, including one solo block.
- Kentucky jumped out to a to a 7-3 lead and an overall 8-0 run gave the home team a 12-3 advantage as they burned through both LSU's timeouts.
- The Wildcats built their lead to double digits and ultimately forced a fifth set with a 25-15 win.
- LSU led 8-5 at the halfway point of the set led by a pair of kills from both Flickinger and Jacobs.
- The Tigers forced the Wildcats to use a timeout with a 12-8 lead and its final one with a 13-9 cushion.
- Kentucky grabbed the next two points to trim the deficit to 13-11 and LSU used its first timeout. However, for the third time in the match, LSU scored the next two points thanks to a kill by Flickinger and a block from Anwusi and Vondran to seal the match.
- Dotson paced the team with four kills followed by three from Flickinger and Jacobs.
LSU and Kentucky will conclude the weekend series with an 11 a.m. CT match Sunday.