8-31-18 Volleyball vs. Duke

LSU sophomore defensive specialist Raigen Cianciulli (5) serves the ball during the Lady Tigers' 1-3 loss in the PMAC against Duke on Friday, Aug. 31, 2018.

The LSU volleyball team (10-14, 5-8 Southeastern Conference) beat the Ole Miss Rebels (13-15, 3-11 SEC) inside the friendly confines of the PMAC Wednesday night in a hard fought matchup.

It was a rainy night in Baton Rouge, and the Tigers' play reflected that in the first set.

Continuing with a trend for LSU all season, the Tigers started the first set slow with a slew of errors, which enabled the Rebels to take an early 6-2 lead.

The Tigers finally calmed down and managed to funnel the ball to their sophomore outside hitter Taylor Bannister and pulled within one by a score of 16-15.

Even after a late push, the errors were too much to overcome and lost the first set 25-23.

Losing the first set woke up the Tigers, and they finally came out fast with hustle and determination.

While the beginning was close, LSU won the second set with tough nose defense from freshman defensive specialist Leigh Maher and sophomore defensive specialist Raigen Cianciulli to keep the ball from the floor and give the Tigers the win 25-22.

The third set showed more of the Tigers from the first set and fell behind early behind attacking play from Rebels' outside hitter Emily Stroup. The Tigers would fall easily 25-19 and looked tired going into the fourth.

Coach Fran Flory has preached all year that her team simply does not quit, the remainder of the game proved this statement.

In a tightly contested set, LSU tried to block the ball on the first strike and play defensively, while Ole Miss tried to feed Stroup the ball as much as possible to bury the ball.

Both strategies worked as points were exchanged for most of the match.

Through pure determination, LSU won and was going into a fifth set for the second straight match.

The fifth set brought much of the same from the fourth. LSU scored first with a beautiful spike by senior outside hitter Toni Rodriguez, but they soon trailed 7-5 later in the set.

The Rebels went up 13-12, and stamina looked to be an issue for the Tigers as the final seconds were coming.

Yet, they did not back down. The defense stood up and made plays when they needed to resulting in a thrilling win 16-14 in the fifth and taking the match.

“This was a hard fought, prototypical LSU-Ole Miss matchup,” Flory said. “This is the way every match that we play against them goes.”

Despite not playing their best match and lacking depth on the bench they found a way to win by a common motto: tenacity.

“We keep getting better,” Flory said. “Even though our goals that we had in the beginning of the season are not attainable now, this team has not stopped trying; this team has not stopped training.”

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