Coach Wade Benson said Auburn and Arkansas are similar because both are trying to get back to an elite level.
“When you see the opportunity to play somebody kind of like yourself, you want to take advantage of it,” Benson said.
Five-set matches have become the norm between these two teams, including the teams’ last meeting in Fayetteville, Ark.
The Tigers pulled out a tough 3-2 victory in a game that went back and forth.
Senior outside hitter Morgan Johns led the Tigers with 17 kills and a .429 attack percentage, while sophomore outside hitter Sarah Bullock recorded her third double-double with 11 kills and 21 digs.
“Last time, we went five (sets),” Benson said. “It’s always gone five with them, so there is not a whole lot of love lost in this one. We’re gonna have two teams that are feisty, two coaches that are feisty, and it’s going to be on.”
The Razorbacks are looking to end a five-game losing streak after losing in Oxford, Miss.
Following the Arkansas game, Auburn will face No. 12 LSU, which is coming off a 0-3 loss at Ole Miss, and Georgia in Athens before traveling to the Plains.
Auburn last faced LSU in Baton Rouge Sept. 17, losing 1-3 after winning the first set.
Benson believes his team played well in its last game against LSU, but was physically beaten on the attack to the block.
“Last game was played at a high level,” Benson said. “It was a slugfest. This time, we need to block better against LSU if we’re going to beat them.”
Auburn will rely on its homefield advantage to help secure the win.
During a loss to the No. 1 Gators, Benson said he felt the team really came together.
“Kelly Fidero played a good match, kept us in that match and allowed us in the third game to have a chance to do something special,” Benson said. “Although we weren’t able to do it, we had a nice coming together.”
Junior outside hitter Kelly Fidero led Auburn with eight kills and a career-best seven digs.
Freshman setter Chelsea Wintzinger got in on the action and recorded her second double-double of the season, finishing with 14 assists and 11 digs.
Florida junior setter Kelly Murphy led the Gators with 15 kills, 13 assists, and 12 digs.
Teammate Kristy Jaeckel had nine kills, and libero Erin Flemming finished with a match-high 13 digs.
“Although the performance wasn’t marked with a victory, we did come away with a positive experience,” said senior middle blocker Lauren Mellor.
The Tigers concluded their weekend play with a three set sweep over the South Carolina Gamecocks.
The Tigers tied a school record with 15 blocks and were led by Mellor, who had a season-high seven blocks.
Teammate Sarah Bullock finished with 11 kills and three blocks.
Senior libero Liz Crouch had a team-high 16 digs.
“We did very well blocking against USC,” Bullock said. “Our middles did a good job reading their setters and we closed on our blocks.”
The Tigers return home after traveling to Florida and South Carolina.