With the SEC season looming, Auburn handled Nicholls State on Friday night to improve to 7-1 on the season.
Auburn suffered its first loss of the season earlier in the day to Florida A&M but came out hot against Nicholls State and put the Colonels away 3-1.
“There was a different attitude on the court,” said head coach Brett Couch. “We came out a little flat this morning, and I don’t think anyone was really pleased by it. It was great that we were able to get back on the court quick this evening and play the way we know how to play.”
Auburn’s defense played a substantial role in its win. Senior libero Bella Rosenthall was a key factor in the success of the defense. Rosenthall set a new career high with 30 digs after being named SEC Defensive Player of the Week on Monday.
“Coach always talks to us about defense, and we know that defense wins,” Rosenthall said. “Being the libero, I know I have to take charge of that.”
Jackie Barrett also had a huge night defensively. She totaled 28 digs and offensively she accounted for 40 assists, by far the most between the two teams.
Auburn dominated the first set of the game with a 25-8 win. The six-foot-four senior Tatum Shipes had seven blocks in just the first set. She finished with a game-high nine blocks. Auburn as a team only had 11 blocks against Florida A&M.
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Auburn’s form carried into the second set as they continued to capitalize off of Nicholls State’s mistakes. The second set ended in a 25-15 win for Auburn with Rebekah Rath heating up offensively. Rath led both teams in kills and points with 19 and 22, respectively.
Auburn began the third set a bit flat-footed. Nicholls State jumped out to a 13-7 lead, but over time Auburn closed the gap. The Tigers eventually recaptured the lead 23-22. This prompted an eventful back-and-forth between the two teams where Nicholls State eventually came out on top with a 28-26 victory forcing a fourth set to be played.
The Tigers made quick work of Nicholls State in the fourth set though. Auburn jumped out to a 5-0 lead with a couple of aces from Barrett and rode that momentum throughout the rest of the set in the 25-15 win. The Colonels had seven attacking errors to just seven kills in the final set.
Auburn will prepare for conference play starting Sept. 22 against Ole Miss.
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