Auburn Stays Perfect at Home, Beats Ole Miss 3-0

AUBURNTIGERSDOTCOM
AUBURNTIGERSDOTCOM

AUBURNTIGERSDOTCOM

Sept. 25, 2011


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AUBURN - Led by a season-high 15 kills from senior Kelly Fidero, the Auburn volleyball team stayed undefeated at home this season with a 3-0 (25-19, 25-22, 25-12) sweep of Ole Miss on Sunday afternoon at the Student Activities Center.

Auburn (8-6, 2-2 SEC) avenged a pair of defeats at the hands of the Rebels (5-7, 1-3 SEC) last season and won its third straight home match to open the season. In fact, the Tigers have yet to drop a single set at home in 2011, winning all three of their home matches by a 3-0 count.

"I think this was a weekend we really needed," Auburn head coach Rick Nold said. "After being on the road so much, we really needed to come in here and have our home crowd behind us. I'm really happy with the way it turned out. We talked a lot before about serving and passing, we made some improvements there, and that led to a great weekend."

Fidero, who racked up 14 kills in three previous matches this season, bettered her 2011 best on Sunday with 15. With just three errors in her 26 attacks, she hit .462 in the match, giving her a weekend total of 29 kills (4.83/set) and a .490 hitting percentage.

"As a senior, Kelly is someone we really rely on," Nold said. "She's a great player, and we need to find ways to get the right people open. Our setters did a great job with those opportunities, and she took advantage of them."

Sophomore setter Chelsea Wintzinger had 29 assists on the day and equaled her career-high with six kills; she also had six digs and assisted on a block. Junior Sarah Bullock finished with 10 kills and nine digs, one shy of her second consecutive double-double.

Sophomores Camila Jersonsky and Vesela Zapryanova had five kills apiece, and junior MacKenzy Harper tied for the team lead with nine digs. Sophomore Chloe Rowand had two blocks while Bullock, Wintzinger and Fidero had one apiece.

The Tigers out-hit Ole Miss .296-.124, improving to 7-0 on the season when hitting .200 or better. It was the fifth time this year Auburn held an opponent below .200 for the match; the Tigers are 4-1 in those contests. Auburn had 43 kills to the Rebels' 29 and also won the digs battle 46-34. Ole Miss did lead in the blocks category 6-4, with Regina Thomas recording a match-high five blocks.

The first set was a back-and-forth affair early, but the Tigers took control with four straight points to take an 11-7 lead. That lead would eventually swell to 18-10, mainly thanks to five Ole Miss attack errors and a service ace from Harper. From there, Fidero would take control, scoring the Tigers' final four points on kills to give Auburn a 25-19 win in set number one. Fidero would record five kills in the opening set while Bullock was the defensive leader with six digs.

Auburn got off to an inauspicious start in the second set with Ole Miss scoring five of the first six points, four of which came courtesy of Rebel blocks. The Ole Miss lead would eventually swell to 11-5, forcing a timeout, and remained a five-point game at 15-10. From that point, though, the Tigers would go on a 5-1 run, cutting the deficit to a single point on two kills from Bullock and an ace from Zapryanova to make it a 16-15 game. Another kill from Bullock and a Rebel error tied the score for the first time at 17-17, and a Fidero kill put Auburn ahead for the first time at 19-18. The Tigers would never trail again, but survived the Rebels fighting off two set point attempts to take the second frame by a 25-22 count.

Auburn completely dominated the third set, taking control early and never looking back in a 25-12 whitewash. The Tigers hit .500 in the final game, compared to the Rebels' .094, and had 15 kills to the Rebels' nine. In fact, Ole Miss did not score a point on serve in the entire set; Auburn was 12-for-12 in sideout opportunities. After taking a 13-8 lead midway through the set, the Tigers would go on a 9-1 run to put things out of reach at 22-9. Fidero's kill to make it 24-11 was her 15th of the day, and Wintzinger got her sixth kill to close out the match.

The Tigers will be back in action Friday, Sept. 30, when they welcome the No. 6-ranked Florida Gators to town as SEC play continues. Friday will mark a historic night for Auburn volleyball as the match will be the first to be played in Auburn Arena. First serve is set for 7 p.m.

For the latest on Auburn volleyball, visit AuburnTigers.com and follow @AUVolleyball on Twitter.