Auburn wrapped up the War Eagle Invitational and its non-conference schedule with a quick sweep of Belmont, entering SEC play with an 8-1 record, and only dropping four sets on the way.
The Tiger’s came out swinging early, jumping to a 10-2 lead in the first set. Senior Tatum Shipes showed off her defense after moving to middle blocker this season, with seven total blocks on the afternoon. Belmont struggled to find its rhythm offensively, as it had a negative hit percentage in every set. The Tigers took the first set easily, winning it 25-8.
In the second set, a few close touch plays at the net allowed Belmont to take an early 4-1 lead. Key kills from Liz Reich and Rebekah Rath allowed Auburn to take back the lead at 5-4, and didn’t give it back up. The Tigers took set two 25-12.
In the third set, the serving for Auburn took over. Bella Rosenthall and freshman Kate Curtis both had long service runs in the set. On the night, Auburn totaled six aces from the line. Auburn sealed the victory with a 25-12 win in the third.
The front line rotation of Shipes, Rath, and Reich was a key part of the offense for the Tigers, something that head coach Brent Crouch thinks can be a huge weapon moving forward.
"We've got three hitters that can terminate," Crouch said. "We run kind of a slower ball in the middle and faster to the pins. It's a little unusual, but it allows us to distribute the ball evenly across the front line. If you have three hitters in each zone, it's going to be difficult for opposing teams to key up on anyone."
As Auburn heads into SEC play, the Tigers start off against an undefeated Ole Miss. Reich says she is ready for conference play.
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“I’m excited.” Reich said. “I love a good challenge and I think that’ll be a great first SEC match for us this year.”
The Tigers will play Ole Miss next Wednesday, the 22nd. That game will be at Auburn Arena at 8 p.m. CST.
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