Press Release: LSU Lady Tigers Rally Past Rice, Defeat Houston

HOUSTON, Texas. January 14. THE LSU women's swimming and diving team rallied past Rice, put away Houston and in the process earned two NCAA provisional times as the double-dual meet with the schools came to a close here Saturday at the UH Campus Recreation Center.

Trailing by nine entering the day, the Lady Tigers outscored the Owls 100-64 to finish off the meet by a score of 196-151. LSU held a comfortable lead on the Cougars for most of the day en route to a 203-149 victory. Rice defeated Houston, 202-145.

With the sweep, LSU moved to 4-4 in dual-meet action on the season and snapped the Cougars' four-meet winning streak. The Lady Tigers also improved to 22-3 all-time against the Owls.

"We made some adjustments and responded like we needed to," said head coach Adam Schmitt. "I think we found the character of this team, and it is a testament to these girls. They got together last night as a team, and today it showed how serious they were about the competition."

Once again, it was freshman Katherine Noland who led the furious Lady Tiger attack. Noland, a native of Deerfield Beach, Fla., won the 100 freestyle with an NCAA "B" cut clocking of 50.93. The mark earned the freshman the seventh-fastest time in school history.

Katie Gilmore (51.56) and Colleen Bertirotti (52.39) also earned pivotal third and fourth-place finishes in the 100 free to LSU's final tally.

The three later joined Heather Brand to capture the final event of the meet, the 200 freestyle relay. Paced by Gilmore's finish of 23.03, the group gathered an NCAA "B" cut by touching the wall at 1:33.69.

The finish was one of many close ones on Saturday, but as compared to Friday's events, LSU came out on the winning end.

"We were finally getting our hands on the wall with better technique," said Schmitt. "This is the time of year to work on that and finish strong as the SEC Championships approach."

None of the exciting finishes may have topped what took place in the 200 backstroke and 400 individual medley.

Berit Aljand touched the wall .04 seconds ahead of Rice's Amy Halsey to win the 200 back with a time of 2:03.48. Senior co-captain Jenna Molinski won over the Owls' Jennifer Hill by .04 seconds in the 400 IM and took second overall (4:29.83). Molinski was also third to UH in the 200 butterfly but finished ahead of Rice with a third-place clocking of 2:06.62. Both were season-fast times.

The Lady Tigers carried the momentum of yesterday's final event into the 400 medley relay. Aljand, Sarah Bedell, Brand and Bertirotti held off the Cougars' "A" team with a final time of 3:51.l5.

Bedell also picked up a second-place finish in the 100 breaststroke (1:07.26).

In 3-meter diving action, Hali Saucier and Alyson Thomas placed third and fourth, respectively with scores of 288.68 and 271.13.

LSU closed its road dual-meet schedule and returns home for a pair of competitions next weekend. UNO visits the Natatorium on Friday, Jan. 20 at 4 p.m., while Senior Day takes place at noon on Saturday, Jan. 21 versus No. 13 Texas A&M. Admission is free.

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