With both teams coming off losses and hunting for a win, Tennessee cracked under the pressure of Neville Arena in a toilsome four sets, ultimately losing the match 3-1 (25-15, 25-13, 27-29, 27-25).
After losing to the Missouri Tigers, the Auburn Tigers (17-2) were hungry for a win as they faced the Tennessee Volunteers (10-10) at home in Neville Arena. After losing to Arkansas, Tennessee stayed on the road and hoped for a win against Auburn.
The Tigers’ young talent struck again against the Lady Volunteers, earning their first win over Tennessee since 2017, which happened to also be a 3-1 home victory.
Auburn’s offense started strong, with an excellent performance from its young pin hitters and middle blocker. Akasha Anderson led the team with 20 kills as fellow freshmen Madison Scheer, and Kendal Kemp followed close behind with 11 and nine, respectively. Junior middle blocker Chelsey Harmon and Kemp had a .375 hitting percentage, with Anderson adding a .292%, and Scheer a .290%. Freshman pin hitter Bel Zimmerman was on fire at the serving line, racking up three serving aces.
The Tigers’ blocking was unstoppable.
Middle blocker Kendal Kemp led Auburn’s defense with eight blocks, while junior setter Jackie Barrett trailed behind with four. Barrett, along with Zoe Slaughter and Sarah Morton, was a force on the back row. Morton led the team with 12 digs as Barrett and Slaughter followed her lead with 11 and nine, respectively.
Tennessee’s downfall was caused by several miscommunications on the court, which lead to flared tempers. The numerous errors solidified the Vols’ 3-1 loss to the Tigers. However, the Lady Volunteers settled in and turned the third set into a nail-biting battle.
This back-to-back battle brought the attending Auburn fans into play as the crowd volume increased with the intensity. The 1,528 in attendance were recorded as the seventh-largest crowd in Auburn volleyball's history.
In the fourth set, Tennessee pulled through four match points and even earned enough for a set point of their own, but Auburn head coach Brent Crouch's well-timed timeout worked in his favor and his team came out hot, scoring three in a row to end the night.
Tennessee’s senior right side Morgahn Fingall was a star on the court. Fingall led the team’s offense with 20 kills and two serving aces. Sophomore outside hitter Erykah Lovett followed Fingall’s lead with 13 kills accompanied by one ace. Fingall also led the Vols’ defense with 12 digs as sophomore outside hitter/right side Ashllyn King and Lovett trailed with 11.
Tennessee generated crucial offensive plays late in the match, but it wasn’t enough to subdue the young and hungry Tigers.
Staying home, the Tigers will take on the Gators Wednesday, October 21, at 7 p.m. CT on the SEC Network. After losing to the Georgia Bulldogs, the Florida Gators go on the road hungry for a win.
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Caitlyn Griffin is a freshman from Huntsville, Ala. majoring in journalism. She started with The Plainsman in fall 2022.