Freshman Kendal Kemp broke the Auburn record for most blocks in a single season (144) en route to Auburn’s 3-1 win against Ole Miss on Friday night.
Kemp used her nine blocks on the night to help break the single-season record, but head coach Brent Crouch believes this is just the beginning of what could be a fruitful career at Auburn for No. 8.
“Just a special player and a special blocker,” Crouch said. “I want to celebrate this moment with her, but I also know that [Kemp] can break her own record next year. There’s so much room for her to grow in that area.”
But Kemp was not the only defensive standout for the Tigers. Libero Sarah Morton finished the night with 12 digs while pin hitter Akasha Anderson followed with 11. Morton now has double-digit digs in 22 matches this season.
“I thought they played really good defense, especially in the first two sets," Crouch said. "I challenged our team to come out and play with some more intensity on the defensive side of the ball, and that happened in the third set when we won, 25-15."
Auburn started the third set slow offensively, only hitting for .100. By the end of the set, however, the Tigers were able to turn their performance around to finish the set hitting .417 and close the set dominantly for a 25-15 victory.
The fourth and final set of the night brought out the offense from both sides of the net. Both teams were hitting above .350 in the set by the time the media timeout arrived. Pin hitters Bel Zimmerman and Madison Scheer put away the final two kills of the set to win it 25-23 and end the match 3-1.
“I thought [Ole Miss] brought their level up in the fourth, and I don’t think we played any worse. They just played better. You have to make plays and we made plays at the end of the game,” Crouch said.
Scheer continues an impressive attacking spree. With 15 kills in the match, Scheer now has more than 10 or more kills in each of Auburn’s last three matches. On top of her 15 kills, Scheer also hit for an impressive .371 on the night.
Auburn had four aces in the match. Anderson had two of the aces, while setter Jackie Barrett and libero Fallan Lanham had one each.
With the win on Friday night, the Tigers picked up win number 21 on the season to tie the 2010 team for the most since 1998. Auburn also picked up its 10th SEC win on the season, the most the program has seen since the 2015 season.
With the win, Auburn improves to 21-5 on the season and 10-5 in SEC play. The Tigers will have 12 days of rest before their next outing on Nov. 23 against South Carolina. Auburn will return to Neville Arena on Nov. 25 and Nov. 26 for a pair of matches against Arkansas for the regular-season finale.
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Chris Mendoza is a senior from Huntsville, Ala. majoring in journalism and minoring in sports coaching. He started with The Plainsman in fall 2022.