The Auburn volleyball team capped its full weekend with a 3-2 (14-25, 25-22, 15-25, 26-24, 15-9) comeback win over NC State Sunday night to close out the ACC/SEC Puerto Rico Clasico in the Coliseo Ruben Rodriguez.
“Tonight’s match showed that this team has a lot of maturity,” head coach Rick Nold said. “They found themselves in tough situations and found ways to fight their way out. This was a big tournament for us against great competition. We’ve learned a lot about ourselves on this trip.”
A trio of Tigers (5-1) totaled double-digit kills to lead Auburn on the night. Sophomore Gwyn Jones notched a season-best 14 kills, while classmate Shaina White chipped in 12. Junior Brenna McIlroy picked up her second double-double of the year, having 11 kills and 10 digs.
Senior setter Alexa Filley finished with another double-double, upping her season total to four after having a match-high 44 assists and 12 digs. Freshman Anna Stevenson added eight kills and senior Courtney Crable had six.
Defensively, senior libero Jesse Earl led the squad with 16 digs, while freshman Payton White totaled 11. S. White had a great night at the net defensively, totaling a career-high five blocks.
NC State (0-5) had four student-athletes in double digits offensively. Melissa Evans had 20 kills, while Julia Brown added 18. Bree Bailey and Lauryn Terry had 12 and 11 kills, respectively. Libero Mackenzie Kuchmaner had a match-high 26 digs and setter Kylie Pickrell finished with 43 digs and 15 digs.
The Wolfpack opened the match hot, utilizing Auburn errors to take an 11-6 lead. More long runs for NC State lifted the team to 18-11 and the Pack closed out the set, 25-14.
A McIlroy kill and a block from Filley/S. White made it 6-4 early in the second and a handful of two-point Tiger rallies pushed AU to an 11-8 advantage. The Pack battled back to go up at 15-14 and the squads exchanged points until another McIlroy strike pushed Auburn ahead, 21-19. A pair of NC State errors capped the set, 25-22 AU.
The Wolfpack regrouped at intermission and found themselves up 5-1 early in set three. Big NC State blocks forced an Auburn timeout, 14-8, and long runs for the Pack pushed the team to a 21-12 lead. NC State finished with a 25-15 win.
Kills by Jones and McIlroy followed by a Pack error had Auburn up 8-6 in the fourth stanza. The Pack came back to tie it at 9-9 and the teams battled back and forth for the lead before a kill from Jones and tough serving by Earl pushed the Tigers ahead at 17-14. NC State was not out yet and locked it up at 20 apiece. After exchanging sideouts, a Jones kill and a P. White service ace sent the match to extras, 26-24.
The Tigers kept momentum and behind more aggressive serves from Earl the team opened up with a 4-0 advantage. A kill from Filley lifted Auburn to a 9-5 lead and a pair of McIlroy strikes closed out the match, 15-9, Tigers.
The Tigers return to Auburn Arena for the annual War Eagle Invitational, hosting South Alabama and Clemson. Auburn takes on USA Friday, Sept. 8, at 6 p.m. CT. in Auburn Arena. The Jaguars and Clemson will face off at 12 p.m. CT Saturday, Sept. 9, with the two Tiger teams closing out the weekend at 6 p.m. CT.