LSU volleyball challenges Mississippi State in StarkVegas

Published 1:46 pm Thursday, September 30, 2021

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The LSU Volleyball team (5-6, 1-1 SEC) hit the road again to challenge Mississippi State (10-4, 1-1 SEC) in a pair of matches at the Newell-Grissom Building.

The first match this weekend will be at 6 p.m. CT Friday, Oct. 1, and will conclude the weekend with a 4 p.m. CT match Saturday, Oct. 2. Both matches will be streamed on SEC Network+.

The Tigers are coming off a five-set come-from-behind victory against Alabama to claim their first SEC victory this season. LSU logged a season-high 69 kills in the match and hit over.300 for the second time this season (.362). The Tigers were led by outside hitter Sanaa Dotson who recorded a season-best 21 kills and .581 hitting percentage.

“We feel like we are prepared for another fight in the SEC,” said head coach Fran Flory. “We are in a better spot as a team in terms of having our lineup back together and having the pieces that we expected in the very beginning.”

Outside hitter Kylie Deberg leads the Tigers this season with 4.18 kills per set, ranking No. 3 in the SEC. She also ranks No. 4 with 4.70 points per set. Deberg’s counterpart Taylor Bannister has 1,684 career kills and is 52 kills away from becoming the program’s all-time leader in total kills.

The Tigers rank No. 3 in the SEC with 2.64 blocks per set led by middle blocker Anita Anwusi who averages 1.35 blocks on average (No. 5 in the SEC) and middle blocker Whitney Foreman who ranks No. 7 in the conference with 1.20 blocks per set.

Libero Raigen Cianciulli averages 4.23 digs per set (No. 4 in the SEC) and is 52 digs away from reaching 2,000 career digs.

LSU is 63-9 all-time against Mississippi State and is riding an eight-match winning streak against the Bulldogs.

“I think Mississippi State is the hottest team in the SEC right now coming off that huge win on the road at Florida,” said Flory. “They were a good team last year as well and lost a lot of close matches but their ability to close this year is much better.”

Mississippi State split its SEC opening weekend at then-ranked No. 17 Florida. After falling in five sets in the first match, the Bulldogs battled to take the second match for their first win in program history against the Gators. MSU returns to its home floor where they are 5-1 this season. The Bulldogs average 13.78 kills per set (No. 5 in the SEC) behind a .258 hitting percentage (No. 6 in the SEC).

Right side Lauren Myrick leads the Bulldogs with 3.43 kills per set and 18 total aces. Middle blocker Deja Robinson heads the defense at the net with 57 total blocks, followed by 41 blocks from middle blocker Gabby Waden. Defensive specialist Lilly Gunter ranks No. 6 in the SEC with 3.96 digs per set.

“We know this will be a fight,” Flory said. “Mississippi State and LSU matches are traditionally marathon matches. We tend to stay in long rallies against them which are fun for the fans, but certainly difficult physically for the players. However, we have had a solid week of practice and are maturing as a team.”

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