Although they suffered their first conference loss last weekend against Missouri, the Auburn volleyball women have gotten off to a strong start in SEC play.
On Tuesday, the team traveled to Knoxville, Tennessee to play the Volunteers. The Tigers fought a tough match, and ultimately came out on top, 3-2 (25-22, 19-25, 25-18, 25-27,15-11). The team is now 4-1 in SEC play and 11-3 overall.
“I like the way we battled and pushed through a tough, scrappy game,” Auburn head coach Rick Nold said. “I’m proud of some players stepping in the end and getting it done for us.”
The Vols came out on the front set in charge of the speed of play. However, Auburn kept their composure, especially defensively With the help of sophomore Karis Beasley and Senior libero Jesse Earl, the team was able to climb back late in the game to take the set 25-22.
The second set was similar to the first in the early stages. Tennessee came out with an early lead, executing consistent, necessary plays. The teams went back and forth, exchanging points, but the Vols were able to have a better clutch performance in this set. The early lead set by the Vols was too much for the Tigers, as they fell 19-25 to Tennessee in the second set.
The Tigers started the third set with a new-found energy. They were playing comfortable Auburn volleyball, including crisp execution from sophomore Shaina White and senior Courtney Cable.
Auburn captured a huge lead in the third set, but the Vols seemed to come back after regaining their desired speed of play. However, Cable refused to let the Auburn drag behind, executing some hard kills to keep Auburn in front. Using the momentum, Auburn finished out the game smoothly 25-18.
In the fourth set, Auburn looked determined to finish the game out, taking an early lead. However, Vols players Erica Treiber and Tessa Grubbs showed their efficiency on both offense and defense.
The Vols eventually took the lead in the middle of the set, but Auburn was able to recover, tying the game-deciding set 20-20. Auburn was able to hold match point 24-23, but the Vols hung with the Tigers play-to-play. Tennessee didn’t let Auburn finish out the game on their home court and forced a set five.
The final set was a culmination of the SEC squads' efforts throughout the contest. Although Auburn took a small lead in the beginning, the deciding set was close. Then junior Gwyn Jones and sophomore Shaina White, who had a career-high 19 kills, closed out the game 15-11.
Senior Jesse Earl had a career-high 36 digs and senior Alexa Filley picked up her tenth double-double of the season. Junior Brenna McIlroy added a season-best 18 digs.
The Tigers next travel to Lexington, Kentucky to play the No. 10 ranked Wildcats on Oct. 8 at 1 p.m. CT.