With its out-of-conference schedule coming to a close, Auburn finds itself in second place in conference standings.
As the 8-1 Tigers set up for Southeastern Conference play, here’s a preview of what they will face with a No. 1 Ole Miss team.
For Auburn, the key has been in its defense to start the season. With 5.59 digs per set, libero Bella Rosenthall leads the SEC, and has been rewarded with two SEC Defensive Player of the Week awards for her efforts. She is the first Auburn player to win two in a season since 2012.
In the front row, Tatum Shipes has shown off her skills at middle blocker, a relatively new position for her. She had seven total blocks in the sweep of Belmont on Saturday, and is seventh nationally at 1.66 blocks per set.
Offensively, Rebekah Rath and Liz Reich continue to put up large numbers. Rath, a transfer from Maryland, put up 24 kills in Auburn's 3-2 victory over Santa Clara. She was the first Auburn player to record 20 kills in a match since 2018.
The 11-0 Rebels, by comparison, show off an elite offense. They boast a .300 team hitting percentage, first in the SEC. They are led by Anna Bair in kills, who has accumulated 125 to start the season. Samantha Scnhitta and Sasha Ratliff also provide plenty of offense, with over two kills per set each. Their setter, Kylee McLauglin, has 385 total assists so far on the year.
Defensively, Ole Miss is also leading the SEC in blocks with 105, and are third in the SEC in blocks per set, with 2.76. Graduate student Sam Burgio leads the back row, totaling 3.32 digs per set.
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Ole Miss also boasts a stronger strength of schedule than Auburn, including a 3-1 victory over No.22 Western Kentucky and Big 10 stalwart Indiana. While not being ranked yet this year, the Rebels could see an appearance in the polls with a strong start to conference play.
Auburn will take on Ole Miss on Wednesday, Sept. 22 at 8 p.m. CST in Auburn Arena.
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