On Saturday afternoon, the Auburn Tigers took down Missouri on the road in nailbiting fashion to beat the odds once again in a come-from-behind victory.
On the road and down two sets, the Tigers fought back to win 3-2 (21-25, 21-25, 25-17, 25-17, 15-12). The Tigers are now 17-1 and 6-1 in SEC play.
Both offenses came in hot in the opening set. Freshman Akasha Anderson ended the set with four kills, and fellow freshman Kendal Kemp also made an early impact at the net.
Kemp's first block of the game was also her 100th of the season. She now has 102, which is the fourth-most in single season history. Kemp also made her presence known on offense ending with 10 kills on .714 hitting.
“She’s not even close to how good she can get blocking,” said Auburn head coach Brent Crouch. “That’s not to take away anything from what she’s doing this season. It’s amazing that she’s at that number right now. She’s going to get better at reading and covering more ground when the other team is getting good passes. When she does, she’s going to break all the records here at Auburn.”
Although the Tigers started things off strong, .321 hitting from Missouri helped the home team win the first, giving them the early lead.
In the second, freshmen Akasha Anderson and Madison Scheer each recorded three kills bringing Auburn’s hitting average above .300. Once again, Missouri came in strong with .486 hitting, giving them the second set as well.
As it quickly became do or die for the Tigers, sophomore Fallan Lanham led the pack in the third with two of the team's five aces. Anderson also made an impression, adding six kills on eight attacks with zero errors. Anderson finished the match with a game-high 20 kills.
Trying to avoid a sweep, the Tigers swung at .458 to clinch the third set, extend the contest and force a fourth set.
In yet another must-win set in the fourth, it was freshman libero Sarah Morton who stepped up with three straight aces giving Auburn a quick four-point lead.
With a block a piece from Scheer, Anderson, Kemp, and junior Chelsey Harmon combined with the service line, Auburn was able to take the fourth and force a decisive fifth set.
Down to the wire, Auburn won its third straight set as Scheer and Anderson took control in the fifth with five and three kills, respectively, leaving the Missouri defense with no way to respond.
“I felt like those last three sets showed where our team can get to," Crouch said. "We challenged a few of them to hit harder serves and they did exactly what we wanted them to. Sarah [Morton] had three aces in a row, and Zoe [Slaughter] came in and hit some tough ones. Those two turned it around for us. Once we got them in trouble, then the rest just becomes easier.”
Next up, Auburn stays in Columbia to take on Missouri one more time. The opening serve is set for Sunday at 1 p.m. CST.
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Alexa Gardner is a sophomore at Auburn, majoring in exercise science. From Birmingham, Ala., she started with The Plainsman in fall 2022.