Eleanor Sheahan – 23 Sports

Friday night, Missouri volleyball started their SEC 2020-21 spring season. The Mizzou Tigers hosted the LSU Tigers at the Hearnes Center for a two-game series. Missouri headed into part two of the season with a (6-2) record from the fall. 

The Missouri Tigers and the Tigers from Baton Rouge fought vigorously till the end of a long five-set match. Both teams had four aces and eight blocks, but it was the Tigers from Columbia that secured the win in the end. Mizzou’s top Tigers Kylie Deberg and Anna Dixon led Missouri to the victory. Deberg racked up 24 kills, three blocks, and two aces in the match, while teammate Dixon followed with 20 kills and nine digs. 

The Tigers clawed back and forth throughout set one, evening the score at 19 all. LSU’s outside hitter Paige Flickinger put pressure on the Missouri defense and an ace from Taylor Bannister secured the set one win for LSU 25-23. 

Set two and three shifted momentum to the Missouri side. With a close score of 21-23 towards the end of set two, Kenna Sauer and Dariana Hollingsworth-Santana shut down LSU’s outside hitter with a huge block and pushed Mizzou to game point. Hollingsworth-Santana smashed the ball to give Missouri the win in set two 25-22. 

Tied one set apiece, Mizzou continues to dominate offensively. Both Deberg and Dixon racked up points by tipping right over LSU’s tall block. With strong, controlled, and precise defense from Missouri’s libero Emily Brown, LSU is unable to keep up. Missouri took set three 25-18. 

Missouri fell short of securing the match win, during the fourth set. LSU was able to establish a four-point lead and Missouri was unable to battle back. Mizzou lost 19-25 in set four. 

Heading into the fifth set, winner takes all, Missouri came in hot and ready to play. The home Tigers established a 5-0 lead in the beginning and the visiting Tigers were unable to catch them. Kylie Deberg’s 24th kill of the game won set five 15-9 for Missouri. The Columbia Tigers took night one three sets to two over the Tigers from Baton Rouge. 

Mizzou played another five-set match on Saturday night against LSU. Missouri’s Anna Dixon and Kylie Deberg were unstoppable once again. LSU could not seem to stop these two powerhouse hitters. Deberg had another plus 20 kills this game totaling 23 kills, 11 digs, and three blocks. Dixon pulled out 11 kills, five aces, and seven digs. 

Tips, kills and unbreakable defense gave Missouri the well-deserved win in set one. Setter Jaden Newsome for Missouri had three kills herself. Deberg did not disappoint scoring the set winner 25-19. 

In set two, multiple kills from LSU’s Taylor Bannister moved her total career kills to 1,381, which moves her to 8th in LSU’s history. Tied at 17 apiece, sophomore middle blocker Claudia Dillion for Missouri smashed a kill, but LSU battled right back. With poise and preciseness, LSU crept away with set two 25-23. 

Both the Tiger teams battled back and forth for every point at the beginning of set three. Deberg picked up kills in both the front and back row and tied the game at 18 all, but LSU stepped on the gas pedal. LSU scored seventh unanswered points to win set three 25-18. 

Down two sets to one Missouri needed to win set four and force a fifth set. At 11 LSU 12 Missouri, Dillion and Deberg shut down LSU’s strongest hitter Bannister, with an insane block. Dixon followed with a substantial ace and Deberg closed the set with a kill. Missouri wins 25-19 and the Tigers head into the fifth set for two nights in a row. 

A block, an ace and a kill, Missouri started set five with a 3-0 lead. LSU unable to defend Deberg and Dixon’s kills allowed Missouri to win set five 15-10. After two five-set matches, the Missouri Tigers secured the series win. 

Concluding this series puts the Missouri Tigers (8-2) while the LSU Tigers fall to (3-5). Missouri will play the Florida Gators in Gainesville next Saturday and Sunday. LSU’s next game is not until Feb. 10 and 11 and they will travel to Florida to face the Gators.

About Smith, Kayler (MU-Student)

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