The Tigers competed in two matches over the weekend, playing LSU at home and Texas A&M away. The Tigers fell to LSU 3-0 (25-23, 25-23, 26-24) and to A&M 3-1 (16-25, 25-22, 27-25, 25-19) in a disappointing series of games for head coach Rick Nold.
In the LSU match, LSU came out with high energy from the start. In the first set, Auburn was able to take an early lead with Anna Stevenson and Brenna McIlroy contributing solid kills. However, LSU (15-4, 6-2 SEC) refused to go away, steadily trading points.
The Auburn Tigers were able to maintain the lead for most of the set, leading 23-20 late in the set. However, after regrouping during a timeout, LSU came back 25-23, scoring five consecutive points to win the set.
In the second set, LSU was committed to keeping the momentum. LSU took an early lead and continued to build upon it throughout the set. Auburn eventually was able to tie it up 21-21, but LSU remained composed, bouncing back for a 25-23 victory.
Determined to not let the game end, Auburn, led by Alexa Filley, came out in full force at the start of the third set. Great serves from Filley and a kill from Gwyn Jones extended Auburn’s lead to 17-13 midway into the set. After taking a timeout to talk things over once again, LSU mounted a comeback to tie the set at 22. LSU capitalized on a few Auburn mistakes to close out the game with a 26-24 victory.
“Tonight was disappointing because I thought we were very tentative,” Nold said. “Playing that way forced us into too many errors. LSU is a good team, but no team will come out on top by giving up a lot of points in each set on errors.”
Despite the loss, Auburn (11-6, 4-4 SEC) had five players with seven or more kills including McIlroy, who led the team with ten. Senior Jesse Earl had a match-high 19 digs.
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After a disappointing result, the Tigers traveled to College Station to play Texas A&M.
In the first set, Auburn took control of the speed of play early, grabbing an early 5-2 lead to begin. Alexa Filley shined as she contributed on offense with a few aces as well as ondefense with her blocks. Auburn kept building on the lead, never slowing down, to take a dominating set win 25-16.
The next three sets were different stories. Although the Tigers were playing with the same intensity, A&M eventually was able to adapt to Auburn’s playstyle. In a back and forth sequence, there were 13 ties and seven lead changes in the second set. Ultimately, efforts by Jones and Earl were not enough as the Aggies took the second set.
In the third set, Auburn looked comfortable as the Tigers took a 8-2 lead to start off. With plays from Courtney Crable and Brenna McIlroy, the lead grew to 18-13.
Despite the big deficit, the Aggies consistently made defensive plays and capitalized on Auburn mistakes to take the third set 27-25 in a dramatic comeback fashion. Then the Aggies (6-8, 3-4 SEC) took complete control of the match, using their momentum to mount a huge 17-8 lead over the Tigers. Despite a few good runs, A&M’s lead was too much for the Tigers to match.
“I like the way we came out to start the match,” Nold said. “I thought we did a great job keeping Texas A&M off balance and served aggressively. As the match went on, we gave up too many free balls to give their offense opportunities. We need maintain our aggressiveness in system better and also make adjustments going into this week.”
Courtney Crable had a season-best 13 kills for the game with Anna Stevenson tying a career-high 12 kills. Alexa Filley picked up her 11th double-double of the season. Defensively, Earl led the match with 16 digs with Karis Beasley reaching a career high of 13.
The Tigers will return to The Plains to play South Carolina on Oct. 18 and the No. 1 Florida Gators on Oct. 22.
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