Malorie Pardo had a match-high 40 assists and fueled the LSU volleyball team to a .321 hitting percentage as the Tigers blasted Arkansas 25-13, 25-18, 25-20 in the regular season finale for both teams Saturday at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.
With the victory, LSU (19-11, 12-8 Southeastern Conference) claimed its seventh straight SEC Western Division title outright. Seniors Lauren Waclawczyk and Michele Williams, honored before the match, joined LSU’s 1,000 career digs and kills club, respectively, earlier in the season.
“We did not want to share the SEC West, and I can’t be any prouder of how our kids responded to the challenge of today,” LSU coach Fran Flory said. “We also wanted to send out Lauren and Michele in a special way during their last home match. I’m really proud of our total team performance.
“Those two have done so much for our program. They have done any and everything we have asked in every capacity. They are like my daughters, so it was hard to end with them on the court. There’s no doubt in my mind that they will go forward and be very successful in whatever they decide to do. They will carry on the legacy of LSU volleyball in the right way.”
Madie Jones returned to the starting lineup and had a match-high 12 kills. Williams and Nicole Willis had 11 kills apiece.
Helen Boyle and Desiree Elliott had six kills each, while Elliott provided a match-best five blocks.
LSU’s back row converted on 38 of 51 side-out attempts for a 74.5 percent efficiency. Meghan Mannari had a match-best 13 digs and finished with 518 for the season to secure the third-highest single-season total in program history. Waclawczyk had 10 digs.
Arkansas was limited to 36 kills on a .196 team hitting. Jasmine Norton had 12 kills and eight digs. LSU’s defense bottled up Kelli Stipanovich, holding her to zero kills on six swings during two sets. On the back row, Christa Alvarez had a team-best 13 digs.
In the first set, the Tigers had 17 kills and a match-high .455 hitting ratio. Ahead 17-11, LSU scored seven of the final nine points for a 25-13 win. Willis had five kills on five swings and tacked on two blocks.
The Tigers carried that momentum into the second set and jumped out to a 15-9 advantage.
LSU continued to push points and expanded its lead to 22-13 on a Willis kill. The Razorbacks pulled back to 22-17, but a Jones-Williams block put the finishing touches on a 25-18 win.
Arkansas controlled the tempo for most of the third set and grabbed a 13-9 edge. LSU rallied and caught the Razorbacks at 17-17 on a Sam Delahoussaye ace. Still even at 19-19, the Tigers rode Jones’ right-arm to three straight kills coupled with a Mannari ace to take a 23-19 lead en route to a 25-20 win.
“It was one of our main goals to win the SEC West championship,” Waclawczyk said. “It felt so good to be on the court with these girls tonight.”
The NCAA Selection Show is at 5 p.m. Sunday, televised by ESPNU. LSU hopes to earn an at-large bid for its seventh consecutive NCAA appearance.