Coming off their first SEC loss against Missouri on Sunday, the Lady Vols (17-5, 8-1) are battling a major war of attrition as the season has worn on.
Sophomore Isabelle Harrison had already gone down indefinitely with a meniscus injury in the Lady Vols' Jan. 28 loss to Notre Dame. Injury was added to insult in their loss Sunday as senior Kamiko Williams went down with an ankle injury and freshman Jasmine Jones also suffered an injury late that prevented her from finishing the game.
"It's hard because they're like your family," said senior Taber Spani. "And so when you see that many people go down, we understand it's part of the game. They're doing everything they can to get back and we believe in them and whoever has that next role is just stepping up. Obviously we didn't get that done at Missouri, but whatever it looks like for LSU and going forward that's going to have to happen."
The Lady Vols have been battling injuries throughout the season. Freshman Andraya Carter went down in December with a season-ending shoulder injury that required surgery. Sophomore Cierra Burdick went down with a hand injury in early January and had been out of action until the Lady Vols' Jan. 31 win against Mississippi State. Ideally, the Lady Vols would like to not have to play players coming off of injuries, but with the current roster being affected by injuries the way it is, players who are still getting back in the groove of playing like Burdick have to take on a heavier role.
"I definitely want to do the best thing for the longevity of my career, my health, but my team needs me and I feel like with us dropping like flies I can take a little pain to get back out there with my teammates," said Burdick.
Despite the injuries though, the Lady Vols are not letting that be an excuse for poor play.
"I think we have the mindset, no excuses," said Burdick. "In the beginning of the year, everybody kept saying we were a young team and we were, but that's not an excuse and right now we have to deal with the injuries, I mean that's part of basketball. We're going to get hurt unfortunately, and we just have to bounce back and do all the treatment, the maintenance work that we can to make sure we're preserving our bodies and just compete to the best of our abilities."
Head coach Holly Warlick agrees that although the Lady Vols' injury situation is tough, the expectations for this team have not changed and that the loss Sunday was a reflection of their effort rather than how healthy the roster is.
"I think when you've had the loss that we did and you play the way we did without any effort, you tend to look elsewhere instead of inward and we just wanted to make sure that we're on the same page," she said.