After an eight-day break, the LSU volleyball team returned to action over the weekend splitting the weekend series with a victory over Mississippi State on Friday and a loss to Alabama on Sunday, moving the team to fifth place in the SEC standings.
The Friday matched proved to be about as thorough a win as the Tigers have had all season, sweeping the Bulldogs in three sets, with Mississippi State only hitting the 20 point mark once.
Cati Leak and Toni Rodriguez each had 13 kills and were the only two players on either team to record double-digit kills. Leak made history by becoming the sixth player in LSU history to record 1,000 kills and digs in a career.
Sunday’s game against Alabama did not turn out so favorably. After being up in sets 2-1, the LSU offense took a nose dive, combining for just 20 points over the fourth and fifth set, including just four points in the tiebreaker.
Leak and Rodriguez posted double-digit kills once again with 11 and 15, respectively. Gina Tillis would lead all Tigers with 19 kills in the match. Katie Lindelow led the Tigers in digs with 18.
If there is a positive takeaway from this game, it is that all three of LSU's losses in conference play have come in five sets, proving the Tigers can, at the very least, hang with most schools in the conference.
Even with the split LSU found itself moving up in the rankings, and faces two critical matches.
On Wednesday, the Tigers travel to College Station for a matchup with a&M. With the Tigers conference record at 4-3, and the Aggies record at 5-2, an LSU win could put the Tigers as high as third in the conference.
A win, and the Tigers would be solid, and the outcome of the Auburn game means not nearly as much as if LSU falls to a&M. A loss to the Aggies combined with an Auburn win on Thursday could set the Tigers back to seventh in the conference.
If LSU loses to the Aggies, and then drops to Auburn, which LSU already lost to earlier in the season, LSU would likely slip into the basement of the conference standings.
That cannot happen if the Tigers want to win the conference, seeing as LSU is just one game over .500 in conference play.
For now, Missouri and Kentucky look like the favorites to win the conference, each with just one loss on the year. LSU is in striking distance, within two games, but it must maintain that position over these next two matches.