Aug. 29, 2014
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Auburn opened the 2014 season Friday with a 3-1 (25-23, 18-25, 25-19, 25-22) victory over North Dakota at the Charles E. Smith Center in Washington, D.C.
The Tigers (1-0) distributed the offense to multiple hitters in the first match of the year with four players registering double-digit kills, while Auburn picked a double-double (43 assists, 13 digs) from freshman setter Alexa Filley. The freshman's 43 assists were the most by an Auburn setter in a match since 2011.
"It took a little bit for us to get going, but I'm really happy with how we came together and fought in that match," Auburn head coach Rick Nold said. "We played some tight games and played really well in those situations."
Freshman Courtney Crable made a strong collegiate debut, leading the way 13 kills. Sophomore Emily Klitzke and freshman Macy Reece registered 11 kills apiece, while Stephanie Campbell chipped in 10 kills and hit .286 for the match.
"We want to see good balance in our offense and I thought Alexa did a really good job when we were in system of mixing the ball around to everyone on the floor," Nold said.
The Tigers dominated North Dakota (0-1) in blocks as Auburn posted 13 team blocks for the match. Sophomore Breanna Barksdale led the way with 3.5 blocks, including one solo, up front. Filley chipped in a pair of solo blocks, while Klitzke also added in five block assists.
Auburn's service game chipped in five aces from four different players - Campbell, Filley, Crable and Mary Hannah Arrington, which played a key role early on in the contest. Arrington also led the team with 25 digs in her first career start at libero.
It was Auburn's blocking and serving that allowed the Tigers to claim the opening set from North Dakota in a frame which featured 13 ties and seven lead changes. Up front, Auburn collected five team blocks and got aces from three different servers in its rotation to pick up the opening frame.
The Tigers trailed early in the second set, but rallied back to tie at 15-15. North Dakota led by Lexie Robinson's eight kills and .429 attack percentage in the set went on a 5-1 run to make it 20-16 and take a lead that it would not relinquish.
The third set saw the Tigers jump out in front early as Auburn led the entire set. Auburn began to develop a rhythm offensively in the third set as Campbell paced the team with five kills on 11 attempts in the frame. In the return game the Tigers were solid, while Auburn finished 15-of-20 (75%) in sideouts to cool off North Dakota's hitters.
The fourth set was back-and-forth from the start as both teams traded the lead five times. Auburn won six of the last nine points in the set to take the match, getting a pair of kills from Emily Klitzke, while the sophomore and Campbell combined to pick up the Tigers' 13th team block of the afternoon to seal Auburn's first win of the 2014 season.
Auburn will continue play Friday and wrap up the first day of action against the host, George Washington, at 6 p.m. CT. Live stats for the match can be found on AuburnTigers.com. The Tigers will conclude the opening weekend of play at the George Washington Invitational on Saturday versus Arkansas State at noon.