After three consecutive SEC victories against South Carolina, Alabama, and Tennessee, the Tigers faced the No. 7 Kentucky Wildcats at home in Auburn Arena. The Tigers fought hard for three sets but ultimately fell 3-0 (28-26, 25-21, 25-18).
The first set started out strong for the Tigers, who maintained a lead for the majority of the set. The Tigers set out on an early run with the help of junior Brenna McIlroy and senior Macy Reece. The Tigers rallied all the way to 11-7, forcing a Kentucky timeout.
The Wildcats regrouped and increased the pace of the game, taking the lead for the first time with a 17-15 score. Freshman Anna Stevenson’s late kill and a pair from McIlroy kept the team energized as they took at 24-21 lead.
At set point, Kentucky capitalized on key mistakes made by the Tigers squad to tie it up 25-25. The Wildcats maintained their momentum and won a comeback victory 28-26.
The second set was much closer, as no team was able to maintain a significant lead. Sophomores Shaina White and Gwyn Jones were consistently racking up kills for the Auburn squad, trying to match the athletic Wildcat hitters.
Kentucky’s Leah Edmond, who totaled a game-high 20 kills, continued to give the Tiger defense trouble with hard-hitting, unstoppable kills. The teams continued to trade points, back and forth, until the 20-point mark, where the Wildcats took control.
Kentucky outscored Auburn 5-1 in the last few plays of the set, winning 25-21.
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In the third set, the Wildcats gained an early 3-0 lead and never slowed down. The Tigers’ efforts were unable to stop a couple of huge runs made by the Wildcats.
Kentucky went up 10-6 midway into the set, before breaking off into an 18-12. The Tigers, who refused to give up their trademarked high energy, tried to regroup at the 20-15 mark. The Wildcats’ speed of play was too much as Kentucky finished the sweep with a 25-18 third set victory.
“We were very efficient offensively to start, but had some trouble slowing their offense down,” Auburn head coach Rick Nold said. “It really became a serve and pass kind of game and they were able to be in system a little too much. With their athleticism, Kentucky is able to take advantage of that and they did.”
Shaina White led the Tigers with 12 kills for the match while McIlroy recorded an impressive 11. Senior Alexa Filley got her 16th double double with 36 assists and 12 digs, extending an impressive season resume. Senior Jesse Earl recorded the team high for digs with 14.
The Tigers travel to Baton Rouge, Louisiana on Wednesday, Nov. 15 to face the LSU Tigers. The Tigers are now 14-9 overall and 7-7 in SEC conference play.
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