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Monday, Dec 11, 2023 | Latest Print Edition

Tigers rise to 9-1 after defeating UAB Blazers

Chelsey Harmon (#14) celebrates a block against Mercer at Neville Arena on September 9th 2023
Chelsey Harmon (#14) celebrates a block against Mercer at Neville Arena on September 9th 2023

The Auburn Tigers defeated the UAB Blazers 3-1 in their second game of the Alabama Showdown tournament. 

 The Tigers came into the tournament with a No. 24 ranking in the AVCA/Taraflex Coaches Poll after a 2-1 weekend at the Tiger Invitational Sept. 7-9. This is the Tigers’ highest ranking in program history. They then travelled to Mobile, Alabama, to play in the Alabama Showdown Sept. 14-16. The Tigers earned their first win of the tournament against South Alabama on Thursday, winning 3-1. This Friday, Sept. 15, they took on the UAB Blazers. 

“I thought at times we played really well and that was reflected in some of the scoring runs we had, particularly in that first set as well as some leads that we built in some of the other sets," said head coach Brent Crouch. "We need to work on consistency for sure. The offense wasn’t going the way that we needed it to go… But the defense took care of things. I thought we did a nice job adjusting to some of the tips they were making."

In the first set of the match, the Tigers were trailing 15-14 when Crouch took a timeout. Soon after, Auburn’s block, serve and overall energy began to rise, and it recorded a total of seven blocks in set one. Sophomore Bel Zimmerman put down three blocks, as well as two each from sophomores Akasha Anderson and Kendal Kemp. The Tigers finished the first set with a 25-15 win. 

In the second set with the teams at a tie, Anderson kickstarted a 5-0 run from the service line. With players like sophomore Zoe Slaughter, who reached double-digit digs for the third time this season, in the back row and those in the front row, the Tigers added another five blocks in the second set. Even though the Blazers took the lead late, the Auburn defense, including Zimmerman and graduate student Kyla Swanson, came back for a two-set advantage, finishing the match 26-24. 

The Tigers were unable to find their rhythm in the third set as UAB made 12 kills as opposed to Auburn’s eight. Even though they added four more blocks to their total, the Tigers could not get their offense going, and UAB finished the game 25-21, extending the match into the fourth set. 

The offense regained its rhythm in the fourth with a hitting average of .357. Zimmerman earned four kills in the set, making this game her second career double-double with 16 kills and 12 digs. Anderson also collected four kills in the fourth set and earned her second career double-double with 11 kills and 11 digs. The Tigers ended the fourth set 25-19, and finished the game. 

Auburn’s 19 total team blocks set a new single-match record.

“Nineteen blocks is pretty impressive. We’ve got some physical players and I think they’re learning how to play within our system," Crouch said. "Our system is about blocking the ball… when you have the physicality that we do, the block numbers are going to really go off the charts.”

The Tigers will round out the tournament against Samford on Saturday, Sept. 16, at noon CST. 

Ruby Hudson | Sports Writer

Ruby Hudson is a freshman from Cullman, Alabama, majoring in biomedical sciences. She joined The Plainsman in Fall 2023.

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