Sept. 10, 2011
CORAL GABLES, Fla. - Auburn hit for a season-best percentage and snapped a three-match losing streak with a 3-0 sweep of Florida A&M (25-22, 25-17, 25-23) in the teams' final match at the Hurricane Invitational, hosted by the University of Miami at the James L. Knight Sports Complex.
The Tigers (6-4) hit .419 - a season-high and the 15th-best hitting performance in program history - and held Florida A&M (0-7) to a .122 hitting percentage, despite games one and three being extremely competitive. Auburn also recorded a season-high 11 blocks in the match. It wrapped up a 1-2 weekend that saw the Tigers finish the Hurricane Invitational in third place.
"We saw this weekend that we've got a lot of work to do," Auburn head coach Rick Nold said. "With conference play coming up, there are a lot of areas we need to improve. We need to play at a much higher level to compete in the SEC."
Sarah Bullock led all hitters with 11 kills on 18 attacks, hitting a stellar .556 for the match with just one error. Bullock led the team with 22 kills and 23 digs on the weekend, hitting for a .302 percentage. She fell one dig short of a double-double with nine in the match, and she also recorded a block and three assists.
Brittney Rhude posted a career-high nine kills and hit .500 with just one error in 16 attacks. Camila Jersonsky finished a solid weekend with four kills and seven blocks against the Rattlers; giving her a team-high 12 blocks for the week to go along with 14 kills, earning a spot on the Hurricane Invitational All-Tournament Team. Christina Solverson led Auburn with 16 assists, one more than Chelsea Wintzinger's 15.
The Tigers took a wild first set, winning 25-22 despite Florida A&M taking advantage of several mistakes and favorable calls. With Auburn leading 19-17, Wintzinger appeared to have executed a perfect setter dump to give Auburn a three-point lead. But she was called for a back-row attack, giving the point to Florida A&M and setting off a protest from the Tiger bench that resulted in a red card, giving another point to FAMU. From there, though, Auburn would get kills from Fidero and Jersonsky to close out the set and take a 1-0 lead in the match.
Set number two, however, was all Auburn as the Tigers rolled to a 25-17 win. Auburn was outstanding offensively, hitting at a .480 clip while holding FAMU to .038. Bullock had five kills on six attacks in the set, and Auburn had just three errors on 25 total attempts. Auburn pulled away early, jumping out to a 10-4 lead and never looking back as the lead ballooned to 20-10. Despite FAMU fighting off three set points, Auburn finally put the game away with a kill from Bullock.
The third set was a back-and-forth affair that featured 15 ties and six lead changes before the Tigers finally held on for a 25-23 win. The Rattlers led by as many as four, jumping out to a 13-8 lead, but a 5-0 run by the Tigers, highlighted by kills from Wintzinger and Rhude along with a block from Kelly Fidero, forced a timeout by FAMU. From there, A&M continued to lead, but Auburn finally went ahead 20-18 on a block from Fidero and Courtney McDonald. After the teams traded blows, Auburn broke a 23-23 tie and put the match away with a kill and a block from Jersonsky, giving the Tigers the victory.
Auburn will kick off Southeastern Conference play next weekend, beginning with a trip to face the Kentucky Wildcats in Lexington, Ky. First serve is set for 6 p.m. CT next Friday, Sept. 16, at Memorial Coliseum.