Auburn volleyball is still undefeated, following its 3-2 victory over Santa Clara on Sunday. The Tigers won the first two sets before Santa Clara won back-to-back sets, forcing a fifth set that the Tigers ultimately won 15-12.
The first set went back-and-forth, with both teams struggling to find answers defensively. Santa Clara’s Julia Sangiacomo dominated with her serves and up at the net. She finished with 25 kills and two aces on the night.
While Santa Clara kept it close, Auburn fought hard to stay with them. Trailing in the late stages of the first two sets, Auburn came back and won them both by scores of 25-21 and 26-24.
Auburn went down early in the third, with Santa Clara pulling off five aces in the set to lead 17-9. Auburn battled back, fending off four set points towards the end, before dropping their first set of the season, 25-23.
In set four, Auburn’s early service errors took their toll, as it was down 16-10 before calling a timeout. With some skillful defensive work from libero Bella Rosenthall and a couple of kills from Val Green and Jackie Barrett, they were able to close it to 17-15. But the Tigers could not keep the momentum, dropping the set 25-20 and forcing a tie-breaking fifth set.
In the final set, a key block from senior Elif Yavuz and great offense from Rebekah Rath gave Auburn an early lead. Despite runs from both sides, the score was tied 12-12 when Auburn called timeout. After three straight kills from Rath to win the set 15-12, the Tigers walked away still undefeated.
After the game, Auburn head coach Brent Crouch was very impressed with the challenge that Santa Clara gave them.
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"This was the toughest team we’ve played this season," Crouch said. “They exposed some areas where we need to get better, but what I was most proud of was that even when they exposed those things, we didn't let it derail us emotionally. We kept coming back and did the right things in the fifth set to win. It was a great win."
Rath led the team with 24 kills in the end. She’s the first Tiger since 2018 to record 20-plus kills in a match. Tatum Shipes, fresh off her move to the middle blocking position, led the team with five blocks. Liz Reich also set a season high with 17 kills of her own.
Auburn is set to host its home tournament next weekend. Its first game is set for Friday, Sept. 17 against Florida A&M.
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