Missouri volleyball beats LSU in five-set thriller

Kylie Deberg and Jaden Newsome gave the Tigers their second win of season.

Missouri volleyball stepped on the court with urgency and focus as it headed into its second game of the year against LSU Saturday night.

After a spring season opener full of jitters and unusual errors, Missouri aimed to be alert as it would face a scrappy LSU team for a second time. LSU kept throwing what it had at Missouri, but couldn’t stop the team from salvaging another win in the spring season.

Senior outside hitter Kylie Deberg performed at the same level as she did Friday night, recording 23 kills versus 24 in the previous game. She picked up a series of kills for a stretch of four consecutive points in the fourth set that would propel Missouri to challenge LSU for another round.

“She’s a workhorse,” coach Joshua Taylor said. “I got to keep in mind that it’s an incredible feat to go 24 and 23 kills in back-to-back nights, but it’s becoming normal for me when I look at her.”

Deberg and sophomore outside hitter Anna Dixon seem to always save their best for last. As Deberg slammed down kills, Dixon responded with five aces for a 5-0 Missouri lead in the fifth set.

“She was the server I wanted up first,” Taylor said. “In the fall, her serves struggled a little bit, and she’s been incredibly mindful in practice at making them a little bit better.”

Missouri adjusted its offense throughout the match when LSU relaxed their defensive formation, which Deberg maneuvered the ball through as she alternated from threatening swings to short, high tips.

Unlike Friday night, setter Jaden Newsome was engaged from the start. The junior, starting in place of redshirt setter Andrea Fuentes, admitted that her nerves got the best of her in Missouri’s season opener.

However, she found her confidence as she synced up with outside hitters Deberg and Dixon and used that same aggression in her offense by swiftly throwing over dumps that fooled LSU’s blockers.

Along with it being her first time running a 5-1 offense, she was credited with 41 assists.

Taylor was more than happy with Newsome’s performance this match.

“She’s doing a fantastic job at delivering the ball to a bunch of different attackers, even in some medium to bad situations,” Taylor said. “I was really happy for her [confidence] and also happy for the team because it allowed us to be really successful offensively.”

Newsome’s quick adjustments on the court have landed her the starting spot as setter for the rest of the spring.

However, after Missouri took an early lead, LSU sneaked back into the game by navigating the holes within Missouri’s back row.

After LSU produced many precise line kills, Missouri found itself in a diving frenzy. Along with LSU’s improved serving accuracy compared to the first night, it found the seams in Missouri’s shaky serve receive and put two consecutive set wins up against one Missouri win.

Miscommunication was a big factor in Missouri’s set losses Friday night, but the initiative to be more vocal this game eliminated many errors. As the Tigers accurately read the hands of LSU’s hitters, they consistently shouted out signs of rolls, tips and deep throws, their signs echoing throughout the stands.

Taylor noted these errors and will establish more communication-related activities on and off the court to provide Missouri a better opportunity for growth.

Missouri will need to make these necessary adjustments quite soon as the Tigers will face No. 11 Florida next weekend.

Edited by Jack Soble | jsoble@themaneater.com

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