Auburn Suffers First Loss of Season to Wichita State
DALLAS - Auburn's volleyball team saw its school record-tying nine-match winning streak come to an end Friday afternoon as the Tigers dropped a 3-1 decision to Wichita State (25-15, 22-25, 16-25, 17-25) in their second match of the day at the SMU Doubletree Classic at Moody Coliseum.
The Tigers (8-1) fell for the first time since the penultimate match of last season, a 3-0 loss at Florida on Nov. 20, 2011. Wichita State (5-3), a 2011 NCAA Tournament participant, used a tough service game and outstanding play from its setter to improve to 2-0 at this week's tournament after a five-set victory over SMU last night.
"I think that's the reason we came to this tournament," Auburn head coach Rick Nold said. "We knew it was going to be tough competition. We came out with lot of confidence and controlled game one. After that, they made some adjustments, started serving tough, and took us out of system. We have to learn how to respond. It's got to happen to us once, and hopefully we can learn from it and get better."
Senior Sarah Bullock will have to wait at least one more day to enter Auburn's 1,000-kill club. She finished tonight's match with a season-high 15 kills, giving her 998 for her career. She also recorded five digs and hit for a .333 percentage. Katherine Culwell had her second-straight 10-kill match in front of her home fans and narrowly missed a double-double with nine digs.
Camila Jersonsky added six kills and six blocks as the Tigers out-blocked Wichita State 8-5. Halle Kearney matched a season-high seven kills, and Courtney McDonald had five. Sarah Wroblicky led the Tigers with 18 digs.
Auburn controlled the first set from start to finish, winning 25-15 as the Tigers hit .292 in the set and held the Shockers to a -.077 mark. Auburn's block was strong as the Tigers recorded four total blocks in the game with Jersonsky and Kearney combining on back-to-back stuffs to increase Auburn's lead to 19-12. Jersonsky would add a kill and an ace from there, and a kill from Kearney would give the Tigers a 1-0 lead.
The Tigers saw their streak of 16 consecutive set victories come to an end in the second game as the Shockers took a 25-22 win to even the match at one set apiece. Both teams hit for an outstanding percentage in the set with the Tigers at .375 and Wichita State at .400, but the Tigers made five errors, three of which came in the form of Shocker blocks. Some late struggles in the serve-receive game, however, proved to be the difference as the Shockers scored three straight points after the score was tied 22-22 to clinch the set and tie things up.
Wichita State led from the start in set three, eventually increasing the lead to 11-8 and forcing an Auburn timeout. The Tigers answered with Bullock's 11th kill of the night and Jersonsky's fifth block to make it a one-point game, but the Shockers would once again move back ahead by three. Auburn again cut the deficit to one, but this time Wichita State would score three in a row to make it 17-13 and force another Auburn timeout. The Shockers would close on an 8-3 run to take a 25-16 win in the set and a 2-1 lead in the match.
In the fourth set, Shocker setter Chelsea Feekin took over and led her team to a 25-17 win to clinch the match. Feekin had four kills and an ace in the set, giving her eight kills, 34 assists and 13 digs in the match, two kills shy of a triple-double. At the same time, the Auburn offense struggled, recording just nine kills and hitting .152 while Wichita State had 15 kills and swung at a .387 clip. After the Shockers jumped out to a 17-8 lead, the Tigers put together a mini-rally with back-to-back kills from Bullock and a block from Jersonsky to make it a six-point game at 17-11. Auburn would keep it as close as six points at 23-17, forcing a Wichita State timeout, but the Shockers would score the final two points to clinch the win.
Wichita State out-hit Auburn .281 to .214 and had 54 kills to Auburn's 48. Auburn won the digs battle 47-46 and out-blocked the Shockers 8.0-5.5. Both teams had four service aces.
The Tigers will wrap up the SMU Doubletree Invitational and non-conference play for the season at 2:30 p.m. Saturday when they face tournament host SMU at Moody Coliseum. Live stats are available at SMUMustangs.com, and fans can get live updates by following @AUVolleyball on Twitter.
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