Aug 30, 2013
ST. LOUIS - Auburn got the 2013 volleyball season off to a strong start with a 3-0 (25-21, 25-21, 25-22) win over Saint Louis on Friday night at Chaifetz Arena.
The Tigers (1-0) spread the offense around, getting five kills or more from five different players, and a pair of newcomers made immediate contributions for Auburn. Saint Louis (0-1) gave Auburn all it could handle for much of the match, but the Tigers managed to hold off the Billikens for a season-opening win.
"Obviously, I'm happy with the win," Auburn head coach Rick Nold said. "Saint Louis has a good young team. I thought we did a good job responding to some situations where they went on runs. For both sides, it's your first match and you're trying to figure some things out, but in the end, I'm happy with how we fought through."
Senior setter Chelsea Wintzinger recorded her 2,000th career assist early in the third set, becoming just the sixth Auburn player to reach that milestone. She finished with 20 assists on the night to go along with 10 digs, earning one of two double-doubles for Auburn on the night.
Katherine Culwell also had a double-double, leading the Tigers with 18 kills and adding 10 digs while hitting .350 for the match. Freshman Kia Bright made a strong collegiate debut, scoring nine kills on 20 attacks, also hitting .350 on the night.
Another freshman, Stephanie Campbell, made a successful return to her hometown with an error-free five kills on 10 attacks, and she led the Tigers with four blocks along with a pair of digs and a service ace. Seniors Kathia Run and Camila Jersonsky had six and five kills, respectively, and Courtney McDonald added three kills.
Saint Louis was led by freshman Mallory Dillon - a former club teammate of Campbell - who led all hitters with 20 kills on the night.
Auburn showed improvement in the service game, committing just two service errors on the night while SLU had six. The Tigers also won the digs battle, 51-45, had 46 kills to SLU's 41, and out-hit the Billikens, .281-.202. Both teams had four blocks.
The Tigers jumped out to a big lead in the first set, leading by as many as nine points, and held on as a late SLU run fell just short in a 25-21 opening-set triumph. Culwell had a team-leading five kills in the opening set while Camila Jersonsky added four.
SLU kept things closer in the second set, but the Tigers pulled away at the end to earn another 25-21 win to take a 2-0 lead in the match. Auburn never trailed in the set after the opening point, but SLU tied the score as late as 17-17. From there, though, Culwell recorded three straight kills to give Auburn a 20-17 lead it would never relinquish.
The third set saw Saint Louis lead most of the way. After several ties and an eventual 19-17 SLU lead led to an Auburn timeout, the Tigers went on a 6-2 run to take their first lead since early in the set and never looked back en route to a 25-22 win. Bright came up big with a pair of key kills during that run, and Culwell had eight of Auburn's 16 kills in the set as the Tigers hit .324 in the closing frame while holding SLU to a .194 percentage.
Auburn will play two matches Saturday as the Marcia E. Hamilton classic concludes. The Tigers will face No. 10 Nebraska at 10 a.m., followed by a match with Louisiana-Monroe at 4;30 p.m. Both matches can be heard on Auburn All-Access at AuburnTigers.com, and fans can follow @AUVolleyball on Twitter for updates throughout the match.