Auburn Volleyball Downs Nicholls State And Tennessee State; Wins War Eagle Invitational


Aug. 25, 2007

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AUBURN - The Auburn University volleyball team picked up a pair of wins Saturday in the War Eagle Invitational, improving to 3-0 on the season while winning the tournament title.

The Tigers swept Nicholls State (30-22, 30-16, 30-18) in the morning match before coming from behind to beat Tennessee State (28-30, 30-21, 30-20, 30-21) in the nightcap.

The last time that Auburn started the season 3-0 was in 2000 with wins over South Alabama, UAB and Tennessee-Chattanooga.

Auburn does a couple days off and returns to action on Tuesday, Aug. 28 with a match against Georgia State in Atlanta.

In the six games won by the Tigers on Saturday, Auburn was able to win by an average of slightly more than 10 points per game. Head coach Laura Farina attributes this success to the competitiveness of her squad.

"I thought the team showed the most competitive maturity that I have seen an Auburn team play with," said Farina. "We made adjustments from game one to game two that allowed us to slow their offense down and if we can slow another team's offense down then that puts you in advantage of winning."

Farina was also excited about pulling out the tournament win on their home court.

"It feels great. Winning this tournament was one of our goals this season," said Farina.

"It is kind of a relief right now with the coaching staff because the team is so pumped up and I think they can feel the excitement of what we can accomplish this year."

Senior Rachel Shanks led the Tigers in both matches. She finished the morning sweep over Nicholls State with 10 kills and came back for a 21-kill, 15-dig performance in the 3-1 win over Tennessee State. Shanks also added a team-high five service aces in the TSU win.

For her efforts over the weekend, Shanks was named the War Eagle Invitational Most Outstanding Player. But, the senior was quick to deflect the attention to the success of her team.

"My main excitement is that the team won the tournament, which is one of our main goals," said Shanks. "I think we really pulled together at the end, so I was happy with the way that we finished."

Joining Shanks on the all-tournament team were fellow seniors Whitney Jacob and Jelena Sekulic.

Jacob finished the tournament with a team-best .357 hitting percentage and nine service aces. Sekulic hit .273 for the tournament after erupting for 21 kills against Tennessee State.

The senior trio, along with freshman setter Nicki Gerig, all posted double-doubles in the tournament finale against TSU.

Sekulic finished with a career-best 21 kills and 17 digs, on pace with Shanks' 24-kill, 15-dig performance. Jacob posted 18 kills with 19 digs while Gerig came in with 65 assists and 16 digs.

NOTES: - At the 21-13 mark in game three against Nicholls State, it was the Shanks Sisters combining for the first time this season... redshirt freshman Sara Shanks set her older sister on back-to-back plays to extend Auburn's lead in the deciding game, Sara finished with four assists and two digs in her first appearance as a Tiger.