By Lauren Rosenberg
The 20-7 Missouri Tigers hosted the 15-12 LSU Tigers for the finale of the 2019 regular season. Both Tiger squads looked to end their seasons on a high note but for one Tiger squad, there was more meaning to it.
Missouri looked to polish up their resume to get a favorable placing for the NCAA tournament while LSU looked to just pull out a win.
Missouri honored two of their seniors, Sun Wenting and fan favorite, Riley Sents. After the ceremony, it was go time.
A new face appeared on Missouri’s lineup as freshman Claudia Dillon had her starting debut in place on Kayla Caffey, who did not appear in the game.
LSU and Missouri would play hot potato on the first three points of the set. LSU’s Anita Anwusi started the set off with a kill but Dariana Hollingsworth-Santana would respond with one of her own.
It wasn’t long before the error bug hit Missouri again as Leketor Member-Meneh recorded a service error to give LSU the lead at 2-1.
Following the error, Kylie Deberg and Hollingsworth-Santana recorded kills of their own followed by another game of hot potato between the two Tiger squads.
Missouri pulled away from LSU by going on a seven point scoring run capitalized by Dillon’s first kill followed by two blocks on attack errors by LSU to bring the score to 11-5 in favor of Missouri.
Later in the set, LSU bounced back, going on a three score run of their own thanks to two attack errors by Deberg, a ball-handling error by Andrea Fuentes and an attack error by Member-Meneh, double-blocked by Taylor Bannister and Anwusi to bring the score to 19-16 in favor of Missouri.
Missouri took the final points of the set off of two kills by Tyanna Omazic and Deberg to take the 1-0 lead with a score of 25-20.
Member-Meneh started the second set off with a kill followed by a double block by Bannister and Anwusi off of a Deberg attack error.
Missouri went on a little scoring run with kills by Omazic and Hollingsworth-Santana but the service error bug continued as Hollingsworth-Santana committed the error to shorten the gap to one.
Missouri bounced back from the error and went on a three point run with a kill by Omazic, an attack error by Samarah Hill and a service ace by Deberg.
LSU went on a three point scoring run capped off by a service ace from Karli Rose.
Dillon recorded a kill off an assist by Fuentes and right after, Fuentes went on to record a service ace. Unable to capitalize on the ace, Fuentes recorded a service error followed by a Bannister kill, allowing LSU to tie up the set at 20.
After a Missouri time out, Rose recorded a service error, leading to two straight kills by Deberg and Hollingsworth-Santana.
After an attack error by Deberg, LSU was ready to continue to fight for this set but would evidently drop the second set to Missouri, 25-22, after a bad set by Rose.
After dropping the first two sets to Missouri, LSU looked destined to be swept and the beginning of the third set seemed evident of that.
Two straight attack errors by Whitney Foreman and Bannister, the first a double-block by Hollingsworth-Santana and Dillon and the second a solo block by Dillon, started Missouri off to a 2-0 lead.
But LSU was not ready to sit back and let Missouri slide by them for the sweep.
After a service error by Fuentes to give LSU their first point of the set, Member-Meneh recorded an attack error, double blocked by Anwusi and Bannister, followed by a kill by Anwusi and a ball-handling error by Fuentes sparked a four point scoring run to lead Missouri 4-2.
Dillon snapped the run with a kill but Bannister quickly responded with one of her own.
Raigen Cianciulli recorded a service error but Samarah Hill and Bannister got those points back with a kill and a service ace, respectively to continue their lead over Missouri with a score of 7-4.
Knowing they were in a hole, Missouri went on a six point run off of kills by Member-Meneh, Deberg, attack errors by Foreman and Anwusi, blocked by Member-Meneh, and a service ace by Omazic to take the lead with a score of 13-9.
Dillon recorded a kill but then LSU went on a three point, highlighted by a service ace from Emmaline Walters.
Despite LSU’s efforts, Missouri completed the set on a four point scoring run.
The highlight of this run was Missouri’s 23rd point. Wenting entered the game for the first time and served the ball over. When the ball seemed to have been lost and a guaranteed 19th point for LSU, Leandra Mangual-Duran came up clutch with a kill from the back row while on her knees. The last point that secured the sweep and the Missouri senior day win was off of an attack error by Bannister. Missouri took the third set with a score of 25-18.
Missouri tied for second with Texas A&M in the SEC with a conference record of 13-5. Overall, Missouri is fourth in the SEC with a record of 21-7.
LSU ended the season tied with Tennessee for fifth with a conference record of 9-9 and tied for seventh with an overall record of 15-13.
Missouri’s NCAA tournament destiny will be revealed December 1 during the selection show.
Edited by Emma Moloney