Oct. 4, 2009
AUBURN, Ala. - Down two sets, the Auburn volleyball team rallied to defeat Arkansas, 3-2 (25-27, 23-25, 25-22, 25-23, 16-14), on Sunday at the Student Activities Center, marking just the fourth time the Tigers (11-5, 3-2 SEC) have defeated the Razorbacks (8-9, 2-4 SEC).
Combined with the win over Ole Miss on Friday, Sunday's win marks the first time since 2004 that Auburn has picked up back-to-back conference victories.
"It was a good match and it is nice to show how well our hard work mentally and playing loose is paying off," Wade Benson, head volleyball coach, said. "We changed the line up in the third set and that proved to be effective. The team played really solid and it was a great win for Auburn volleyball."
Junior libero Liz Crouch reached a major milestone during the match, becoming the eighth Tiger to record 1,000 career digs. With a 14-dig performance, Crouch now has 1,007 digs in her career, ranking her sixth all-time at Auburn.
"I'm really happy to hit this mark and really excited to continue to add to our team's success this year," Crouch said. "I've grown into more of a leadership role on this team and that is really showing in my defensive abilities."
A pair of Tigers in sophomore Kelly Fidero and junior Lauren Mellor had career performances offensively. Fidero tallied 19 kills, while Mellor finished with 11 kills. Mellor also tied a career-best with eight blocks.
Auburn freshman Sarah Bullock recorded her second-consecutive double-double, finishing with 11 kills and 13 digs. Junior setter Sara Shanks had a season-best 36 assists, while classmate Alyssa Davis finished with a .636 attack percentage, tallying an error-free seven kills on 11 attempts.
"Kelly Fidero was awesome today and Lauren Mellor had a big match at the net, which was big for us," Benson said. "Sara Shanks did a great job at leading the team in the end, making the right decisions."
Jasmine Norton led the way for Arkansas, tallying a match-best 20 kills and finishing with 11 digs. Setter Lindsay Scanlan had a match-high 53 assists, while libero Phoebe Bautista finished with 14 digs.
Arkansas jumped out to a 6-4 lead in the first set and extended its lead to 11-7. A kill from Bullock pulled the Tigers within one at 11-10, but the Razorbacks pushed to take its largest lead at 16-12. Down three late in the match, a five-point Auburn run tied the set at 25 apiece, but Arkansas closed out the match on a run of its own to win 27-25.
Auburn found itself down early again in set two, 6-4 to Arkansas. A big 5-0 run, highlighted by a pair of Bullock kills, gave the Tigers a 13-10 advantage as Auburn held a slim lead throughout the middle of the set. At the 21-19 mark, the Razorbacks, put together a four-point rally and went on to take the set 25-23.
In set three, the Tigers grabbed a quick 6-3 advantage and an eventual 6-1 run added to the Auburn lead, 15-9. The Tigers remained in control of the set, seeing Arkansas only come within two at 19-17. The Razorbacks pulled within one at 22-21, but a kill and service ace from Fidero and a kill from Mellor solidified the 25-22 Auburn win.
The two teams exchanged three-point runs throughout the first parts of the fourth set, seeing the score tied at seven apiece. Arkansas pulled ahead by two at 10-8, but a 5-1 run gave Auburn the 13-11 lead. The set went on to feature six ties and with the last one coming at 23-23, two Razorback errors gave the Tigers the 25-23 victory.
Arkansas quickly took the 3-0 lead in the deciding fifth set, but a 6-1 Auburn rally gave the Tigers the 6-4 advantage. The two squads battled throughout the middle of the set and exchanged points up to the 14-14 mark. A kill from Fidero and a Razorback attack error sealed the 16-14 Auburn win.
The Tigers take to the road next weekend for a pair of SEC matches. Auburn faces No. 15 Kentucky at 6 p.m., Friday, and concludes with a match against Tennessee at 12:30 p.m., Sunday.