The LSU beach volleyball team survived and advanced after a tough day one of the NCAA Beach Volleyball Championship. The Tigers split its two matches against
No. 2 Pepperdine Waves and No. 6 South Carolina Gamecocks.
LSU opened the day with a 3-0 loss to the Waves, but bounced back to beat the Gamecocks 3-1 in an elimination dual match.
“We always seem to bring the most of our fight and enthusiasm when we play South Carolina,” LSU junior Olivia Powers said. “It's always fun. It feels really good to get a win, especially bouncing back after the first game.”
In the Tigers opening match against Pepperdine, a slow start doomed LSU after the Waves won the opening set on all five courts.
The Tigers fought back winning set two on courts 1 and 5 to force two set threes after dropping games on courts 2 and 4.
LSU fell on court 3 in a marathon set two which gave Pepperdine its fourth victory over LSU this season.
“It started a little slow in this format,” LSU coach Russell Brock said. “You can't let it drag out. It's going to end before you can get a chance to get rolling. We are confident about who we are. We knew that our next match up, we were going to be ready for them, and we were going to play better.”
Falling in the opening match put the Tigers in a losers bracket and forced an early turnaround against the Gamecocks.
LSU had just two hours of rest before facing their opponent instead of the four hours of rest if it had won.
While South Carolina also faced a short turnaround, the Tigers faced a tough challenge in the Gamecocks’ stamina.
“They have a lot of energy and we knew we had to bring the energy up, especially because we kind of lack in that area so we try to really focus on that,” sophomore Kristen Nuss said.
LSU opened with a much better start than in its opener, taking set one on courts one, four and five to take a lead on three courts.
The Tigers would take full advantage of that lead in the second set by winning courts one and five in straight sets after dropping court two to gain a 2-1 advantage.
LSU forced a set three on court 3 and was taking to extra sets by South Carolina on court 4.
Ultimately with the crowd behind them, LSU pulled away on court three and clinched the match 3-1.
“This afternoon, we decided we're just going to do what we do,” Brock said. “So we just imposed our game on them and made them respond to us.”
The Tigers will face the top-seeded UCLA Bruins in the next match at 2 P.M. tomorrow on ESPN2 after the Bruins were upset in their match against fourth-seeded Florida State.
LSU faced UCLA earlier this season in the East vs West Challenge and fell 4-1.
The Tigers feel like this time the result will be different.
“I think if we compete like we know we can in our next match, then anything is possible,” sophomore Claire Coppola said. “Our team really went out there and battled. We put in a lot of fight, but we're not done yet.”
While LSU had hoped to stay in the winner’s bracket, the Tigers accomplished their goal of getting to day two for the second straight year.
“Our goal was to win matches and get to tomorrow,” Brock said. “Tomorrow’s goal will be to win matches again. Our goal hasn't changed. We have to win matches”
If the Tigers win, they will face the winner of No. 2 Pepperdine and No. 5 USC at 4 P.M.
Although, LSU must win its remaining matches to stay alive, the Tigers still have their eyes on taking home the championship.
“We’re not done yet,” Nuss said. “We made it to tomorrow, but that's not our final goal. We came here to win and we still work to do it.”