GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The LSU volleyball team moves into the second leg of a Southeastern Conference four-match road swing when the Tigers meet conference frontrunner and No. 16 Florida at 5 p.m. Friday.
LSU (12-14, 8-9 SEC) will look to start a new winning streak after the Tigers had their season-best three-match run come to a close Sunday at Missouri. Florida (21-4, 15-1) enters one win away from clinching a share of the SEC regular season championship.
“Playing Florida and Tennessee on the road during the same weekend is our toughest trip of the season,” LSU coach Fran Flory said. “There’s no doubt it’s a tough trip for our young team, but every chance is a new opportunity. Our players are continuing to embrace improvement. There are four or five of our players that are still getting better every day.”
Offensively, the Gators have relied heavily on Chloe Mann, Živa Recek, Betsy Smith and Tangerine Wiggs. The quartet has combined for 1,000 kills and 80 percent of the team’s total output on the season. Florida’s .308 team hitting percentage is second in the nation fueled by Taylor Brauneis’ SEC-leading 11.62 assists per set.
LSU will look to bounce back from a 3-0 setback to Missouri where the Tigers were held to a season-low 27 kills and 27 digs.
The Tiger back line continues to pace the SEC with 17.05 digs per set. Meghan Mannari is second in the SEC with 4.87 digs per set.
Helen Boyle, Desiree Elliott and Madie Jones have come away with 76.3 percent of LSU’s kills in SEC play. One member of the trio has been the leader in kills for the Tigers during 25 of the team’s 26 matches.
Boyle has pieced together 10 or more kills in 12 of her last 16 appearances dating to Sept.16. She has averaged 3.04 kills and 2.99 digs per set in SEC play.
Elliott has 3.49 kills per set to rank 10th in the SEC. Jones has belted a team-high 354 kills, including double digit spikes during all 12 of LSU’s wins on the 2012 season.
“This week in practice we’ve worked on our offensive timing, rhythm and tempo to get a few more opportunities to move some people in our serve-receive patterns and in transition,” Flory said. “We realized that we’ve become predictable in certain situations. Opening up and allowing our players to be great athletes, and use that athleticism to create more opportunities, is the focus that we’ve had.”
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