The LSU volleyball team used career-highs from Helen Boyle, Sam Delahoussaye, Malorie Pardo and Haley Smith to claim a gritty 3-2 victory over Kentucky during its home opener Friday at the Maravich Center.
LSU’s first Southeastern Conference victory was also its first five-set decision (25-21, 22-25, 17-25, 25-20, 15-11) of the season.
Kentucky (6-6, 0-2 SEC), which was receiving votes in the American Volleyball Coaches Association Top 25 poll entering the week, had won seven of the previous eight meetings with the Tigers dating to 2008.
“What a nice crowd (1,471 fans) we had tonight, a great job by our marketing and promotions people,” LSU coach Fran Flory said. “We really had to feed off of them because we got a little tired at the end of the third set. The momentum from the fans and the cheering really helped us when we needed it most. “Tiger fans are the best in the world, and we are very appreciative. They were the difference maker and get a big part of the credit for tonight’s win.”
LSU (5-7, 1-2 SEC) transitioned back into a 5-1 offense as Pardo handed out 60 assists to equal a career-best and corralled 13 digs to pick up her second straight double-double.
Boyle matched a career-high and powered home 18 kills to go along with 12 digs. From the middle, Desiree Elliott also ripped 18 kills on a .316 hitting clip. Madie Jones chipped in 14 kills and has secured double figure spikes in all five of LSU’s victories this season.
“I thought that Helen was the key to the match,” Flory said. “She put so many key swings away and kept the pressure on Kentucky.
“They had to release to Helen who gave other people different opportunities. Even when they released to Helen, she was able to be effective and efficient.”
Meanwhile, Smith registered a career-best 18 digs.
“You have to be thrilled with Sam,” Flory said about Delahoussaye. “She stepped in and dug some people one-on-none. She’s worked so hard and never got the chance to wear that different color jersey. The fact that she gets to do that no matter what the circumstances are, it’s her time to shine. There’s no doubt that she is definitely shining.”
Kentucky was sparked by Ashley Frazier’s 17 kills, Christine Hartmann’s 43 assists and Stephanie Klefot’s 29 digs.
LSU saved its best effort for the fifth set. The Tigers belted 12 kills, compiled a .367 hitting percentage and sided out on 10-of-12 chances. Boyle, Elliott and Jones provided three kills apiece.