One month after beating Ole Miss in five sets in Oxford, Miss., LSU was unable to repeat the feat on its home court and dropped a five-set decision, 25-12, 20-25, 25-16, 31-33, 13-15, on Sunday at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.
Michelle Williams and Madie Jones were dominant for the Tigers (14-7, 7-4 Southeastern Conference), hitting at a .560 and .421 clip with 16 and 20 kills respectively. Desiree Elliott was also strong, notching 23 kills and six blocks to lead all scorers with 26.5 points.
“I’m definitely disappointed in the outcome, but not the effort,” LSU coach Fran Flory said. “I thought our kids played hard and showed great heart.”
Regina Thomas and Allegra Wells led the Rebels (6-14, 2-10), hitting .450 and .400 respectively. Wells led Ole Miss with 18 kills and 19 total points, while Thomas was the team’s leading blocker with four.
“It seems like this was a long time coming for us,” said Ole Miss coach Joe Getzin, whose team won just its second conference match of the season and first since they defeated Arkansas two days after losing to LSU in September. “It’s always a battle with LSU. It’s a good matchup, and our kids played hard today.”
LSU came out on fire in the first set and won handily, 25-12, while outhitting the Rebels .382-.029. The Tigers looked likely to wrap the match up in three sets at that point, with Elliott’s .500 hitting percentage and seven kills leading the way.
Ole Miss fought back, though, and took the second set 25-20, never trailing after tying it at 5-5 on a kill by Amanda Philpot. Wells hit .714 and notched six kills to help the Rebels pull even at one set apiece.
The Tigers came out of the break with a renewed intensity and overwhelmed Ole Miss in the third set. Five players hit over .500 for LSU in the 25-16 win, and the last two of Elliott’s team-leading six kills were the Tigers’ 24th and 25th points.
With the fourth set tied at 2-2, LSU setter Malorie Pardo landed on her head while diving to save a point for LSU, and after lying on the ground for several minutes was eventually helped off by the Tigers trainers. By the time she returned to the court Ole Miss had a four-point lead at 16-12 and was looking to send LSU to a fifth set. The Tigers clawed their way back and tied it up at 19-19, setting the stage for a thrilling finish to the set. The set was tied again 10 more times after that, and Ole Miss finally pulled it out 33-31 on back-to-back errors by LSU.
The Tigers scored first in the fifth set, but Ole Miss raced back and took a 6-2 lead. The Rebels led by as much as five before LSU pulled back to within one at 13-12, but Ole Miss scored two of the final three points to close out the set and the match.