LSU volleyball coach Fran Flory is happy the first weekend of the season is out of the way.
The Tigers entered the season with high expectations, but went 1-2 at the Mortar Board Premier in West Lafayette, Indiana, including losses to No. 14 San Diego (26-24, 23-25, 25-23, 25-21) and No. 8 Purdue (25-17, 34-32, 25-22) during the opening weekend.
Flory said she was disappointed with how her team started the tournament, citing a lack of preparation as a possible factor in the slow start — an issue for which she shouldered the bulk of the blame.
But the Tigers’ coach was encouraged by the way they finished, despite being swept in straight sets to the Boilermakers.
“I thought I had a veteran team that was going to step in and lead themselves, but the learning curve is that we need a little more guidance,” Flory said. “But as we played, the maturity stepped up eventually and the advancement of the team was amazing. Sometimes those things happen for a reason.”
Flory said she’s happy with the way things went, if for no other reason than getting the kinks out. She added that it took last year’s team half the season to come together the way this team did in the first weekend.
“That part is a mature, veteran team that is going to step up and make those changes,” Flory said. “For that, I think this weekend had to go the way it went.”
Flory’s primary complaint with her team’s performance was with the defense against San Diego.
LSU surrendered 62 kills to the Toreros — 21 of which came from middle hitter Alaysia Brown — for a .248 hitting clip. The Tigers only had five blocks against San Diego, six fewer than they produced when the two teams met in the opening weekend of 2012.
“I was disappointed in how we played defense at the beginning of the tournament,” Flory said. “But the further we got into the Purdue match and the more we got into it, the more we played really good defense and got that tenacity back.”
LSU senior setter Malorie Pardo described the trip as a “good weekend, not a great weekend.” She said the Tigers finished the tournament where they should’ve started in terms of level of play.
Pardo had one of the best performances of the opening stint, posting LSU’s first triple-double since Sam Dabbs in 2008 with 10 kills, 40 assists and 11 digs in the Tigers’ only win of the tournament against South Florida.
“We know how hard we have to play in order to win the tough matches we have in front of us,” Pardo said. “We have a tough schedule ahead of us, and we can win every game we’re put up to. We proved to ourselves how good we can be.”
The Tigers have two weeks to bounce back before travelling to Tallahassee, Florida, on Sept. 12, where they’ll meet another top-ranked team in No. 8 Florida State.