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A spirit that is not afraid

Auburn volleyball gets back to winning ways, sweeps weekend series with UGA

Auburn celebration at Neville Arena on Oct. 9th, 2022
Auburn celebration at Neville Arena on Oct. 9th, 2022

The Deep South's Oldest Rivalry carried over to volleyball this weekend. Auburn came out on top on the court in both of the weekend matches, getting back in the win column after suffering its first loss of the season at LSU on Wednesday.

Auburn continued to impress, as it improves to 16-1 overall and 5-1 in the SEC after beating Georgia 3-2 on Sunday. It remains atop the SEC standings and continues its undefeated season at home. 

Every set went back and forth between the two teams with Georgia getting out to an early lead in most of them. The highly-contested game also had a lot of challenges from the coaches, mostly from Georgia, but only once was the call overturned in favor of the Bulldogs, taking a point away from Auburn.

Georgia scored the first points of the set in 3-of-5 sets that were played on Sunday. The Bulldogs also went on four separate five-point runs to help come back from a deficit or expand their lead, but the young Tiger squad never let it bother them.  

Auburn took the first two sets, 25-22 and 25-21, but Georgia came back and made a statement by snatching the third and fourth sets, 25-15 and 26-24, and forcing a decisive fifth set. The crowd had Auburn's back in the fourth, set as they helped cheer the team back from a five-point deficit. 

Auburn's longest scoring streak was also five, but they only went on two separate streaks -- one of which came at a crucial time in the final set. This led to them clinching the victory when Akasha Anderson and Kendal Kemp rose above the net for Auburn's 18th and final block of the match. 

Askasha Anderson (#3) and Sarah Morton (#2) celebrate closing the first set against Georgia in match of Auburn and Georgia at Neville Arena on Oct. 9th, 2022

But the victory had to be earned and not given.

Georgia’s biggest lead came in the third set when they went up by 10 points. Auburn's biggest lead was in the first set when it went up by four. Even though Georgia always started out controlling the sets, Auburn was able to crawl back and find a way to win them. 

The fifth and final set had the crowd going nuts. Every point went back and forth between Georgia and Auburn. When it came time for the match point, the entire arena was on their feet cheering. 

The players could feel the energy in the arena. As the crowd cheered after a point or an amazing block, the players' emotions and celebrations got more intense: from slapping the ground after saving an attack to cheering and hitting their chest after scoring. 

Auburn’s freshmen stole the show and led the team in game two against UGA. 

Anderson led the team in kills (21), which is how the Tigers got most of their points. Kemp, also a freshman, led the team in blocks (10), matching her career high that she set on Saturday. The majority of the Tigers' starting lineup was also made up of freshman on the team. 

Akasha Anderson (#3) spikes the ball in match of Auburn and Georgia at Neville Arena on Oct. 9th, 2022

The offensive efficiency was also evident for Auburn in the narrow win. Smooth passing from Zoe Slaughter, Fallan Lanham and Sarah Morton led to 63 kills for the Tigers and Anderson's sixth double-double of 2022

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Morton did it all on Sunday. She sparked Auburn's comeback at the service line, passed well and tallied three assists without an error, and also set a career-high with 26 digs.

The only thing that Georgia outscored Auburn in was aces, 11-3. Auburn played a technically better game as they had Georgia beat in points (84-82), kills (63-58), blocks (18-13), assists (58-53) and digs (75-63).  

The Tigers' next action is a two-game series at Missouri, when they take on their fellow Tigers on Oct. 15 at 1 p.m. CST. 

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