No. 17 Missouri volleyball beats LSU in its first ever spring season opener
After a mid-season break, the Tigers secured their first win of the year in five sets against LSU.
Jan. 30, 2021
The crowd bustled into Hearnes Center early to watch ranked No. 17 Missouri volleyball warm up before the first serve of the spring season against LSU.
The Tigers came out of the locker room, racing to center court as they looked around and waved to their fans young and old. The crowd responded with a roar of applause that ignited the team throughout their drills.
However, putting together a successful performance against LSU remained at the Tiger’s priority. Missouri defeated LSU in a strenuous five-set match to secure their first win of the spring season.
“It was great to be back inside Hearnes and playing volleyball again,” coach Josh Taylor said. “It’s definitely a little weird playing volleyball in January and looking ahead to a brand new spring season, but we’re incredibly fortunate to have this opportunity.”
The first set was a slow start for both teams as was expected due to the mid-season break. The score went back and forth between LSU and Missouri as both teams racked up multiple errors, in both serving and attack areas.
Missouri accumulated 25 attack errors and 9 serving errors in the game, which gave LSU the room to take the Tigers to five sets.
Eventually, LSU took the lead in the first and continued to use the Tiger’s errors to their advantage as Deberg hit the ball out to give them their first set win of the season.
“We were definitely finding our groove again in the first set,” junior setter Jaden Newsome said.
Newsome led the Tigers’ offense to victory, as she recorded a career-high 48 assists which allowed outside hitters Kylie Deberg and Anna Dixon to force errors upon LSU’s defense.
LSU’s sneaky slide attacks and Deberg’s careful offense characterized the second set. As much as the senior hitter would love to cram a hit down on every set, she consistently changed her game plan to keep the LSU defense on their toes. With the assistance of middle blocker Kenna Sauer, the Tigers shut down LSU’s offense and won the second set 25-22.
Deberg never let her foot off the gas in this match. She started off the third set with an ace, which advanced the Tigers to a 6-3 lead. She went on to tally 24 kills, 2 aces, 7 digs and 3 blocks for her first game of the season.
Hitters Sauer and Dixon contributed as well to the spacious score throughout the set and progressed Missouri to a 25-18 win.
However, the Tigers took a step back in the fourth set, where LSU would beat them 25-19. Coach Taylor noticed that the rust and jitters of the first set came back to haunt them. Lots of miscommunication in the back row lead to service receive errors and even a free ball error between sophomore hitter Dixon and senior right side Dariana Hollingsworth-Santana.
“There’s a lot of ebb and flow in volleyball and there’s a lot of points that happen in matches that suck and aren’t fun. You got to grind through it,” Taylor said.
The Tigers responded to another LSU win with an offensively-dominant fifth and final set. Dixon showed off her attacking ability as she recorded five kills in a row which gave Missouri an enormous lead over LSU to go on to win 15-8 and clinch its first win.
“I really began to focus on where the defense was on the other side and being smart with my swing,” Dixon said.
While the Tigers have a whole season ahead of them to address these difficulties, coach Taylor highlighted how impressed he was with his team and how optimistic he is of the future.
Missouri plays another match against LSU to close the series at 8 p.m. tonight on SEC+.
Edited by Jack Soble | firstname.lastname@example.org