Although LSU’s volleyball fate is tied to its conference play, securing any more wins against non-conference foes would be a plus.
The Tigers did just that over the weekend, sweeping their three games at the Lobo Invitational.
As exciting as this is, it should be noted that two of the team’s in the tournament, LIU-Brooklyn and Cal State-Northridge, combine for just two wins on the season. So the competition wasn’t stiff.
In the first game of the tournament, the Tigers swept the Blackbirds. LSU cruised to a 25-18 first set victory after being down 12-11. The second set proved to be a bit more of a battle with the set remaining close late, with ties at 18, 21 and 22 before LSU recorded the next three points to take the set. To wrap up, the Tigers finished out the third set 16-4, to take the game.
Against Cal St. Northridge, the Tigers took an early two set lead, after winning the first two sets by the same margin, 25-21. Things got intense in the third set with the match tied at 24, leading to tiebreakers. Both LSU and Northridge had chances early in the tiebreak to take the set, but LSU would finally notch consecutive points to win the set, 31-29, and the match.
It looks as though LSU was in route to another sweep when they faced off against the Lobos in the finale, taking the first two sets 25-23 and 25-20. New Mexico would come back by securing the next two sets 25-18, and 25-23, to force a decisive fifth set.
In that set, the LSU gained an early 8-3 lead, before New Mexico would fight back to make it a 9-8 match and a bit later, tie the match at 11. From that point, LSU would score the next four to win the set, and wrap up the weekend with a win.
Cati Leak once again was a force for the Tiger offense, leading the team in kills for all three games. Cheyenne Wood had a double-double against LIU-Brooklyn and New Mexico. Haley Smith and Katie Lindelow both had good performances over the weekend.
Although LSU beating some top teams might be meaningless in the long run, the three wins actually put the Tigers in a good position entering conference play, which begins Wednesday, within striking distance of Alabama and Georgia and potentially out of the SEC basement.
That conference play starts off decently favorably for the Tigers with five of the first seven at home. The same stretch also features both Georgia and Bama. It also features a 14-1 Tennessee team and a 10-3 Mississippi State squad, as of Tuesday.
After a bad performance during the non-conference slate, it goes without saying that LSU must play extremely well for the next two months if they want to have any shot to make the tournament and it starts with a strong outing through these first seven matches. Ideally, one which produces five or more wins.