Oct. 14, 2011
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - Auburn got double-digit kills from four different players, but the Tiger volleyball team dropped their third straight match Friday night with a 3-1 loss (23-25, 25-22, 15-25, 19-25) to Arkansas at Barnhill Arena.
Auburn (9-10, 3-6 SEC) fell to 1-5 on the road this season despite a strong offensive effort and some improvement in the service game. Arkansas (12-7, 4-4 SEC) improved to 4-4 at home and snapped a two-game losing streak to the Tigers.
"I think it was a game of runs," Auburn head coach Rick Nold said. "When we were controlling the ball and serving aggressive, we made some runs. Arkansas did a good job of staying aggressive and pulled out the win. If we stay aggressive, that's the key to us playing well. If we back off, it's a bad sign.
"We've identified the things we need to improve (before Sunday), and LSU is always a tough place to play. The girls are anxious to get out there and get another chance at it. We can do a lot better than we did tonight, and we want an opportunity to show it."
Junior Sarah Bullock recorded her fourth straight double-double and sixth of the year with 12 kills and 16 digs, leading the team in the defensive category. Senior Kelly Fidero led Auburn with 13 kills while Camila Jersonsky and Courtney McDonald added 10 apiece. Jersonsky also tacked on five of the Tigers' six blocks on the night while McDonald led the team with a .438 hitting percentage.
Chelsea Wintzinger had 25 assists to lead the Tigers while Christina Solverson added 18 as she played most of the third and fourth sets.
Arkansas was led by Jasmine Norton with 17 kills and 16 digs, while Kelli Stipanovich posted 13 kills.
The Razorbacks totaled 55 kills to Auburn's 50, while the Tigers won the digs battle 62-58. It was just the third time this season for Auburn to lose when out-digging its opponent (now 8-3 in those matches).
Neither team showed much in the way of offense early in the first set as the teams traded leads several times. The Tigers hit just .194 but were able to stay close thanks to a strong service game that included four aces - two from Bullock and one each from Jersonsky and Brittney Rhude. It was Rhude's ace that gave Auburn a 19-17 lead, but the Razorbacks rolled off three straight to take a 20-19 lead and force an Auburn timeout. From there, the Arkansas lead swelled to 24-21, forcing another Tiger timeout. Two straight kills from Jersonsky kept the Tigers alive at 24-23, but a big swing from Norton gave the Hogs the first set at 25-23.
In the second set, the Tigers brought out their big guns, getting a combined nine kills from McDonald and Jersonsky to take a 25-22 win and square the match at one set apiece. McDonald hit .571 in the set with five kills on seven attempts (just one error), and Jersonsky was even more efficient at .800 (4-0-5) to go along with three blocks. The duo was instrumental in the Tigers going on a 7-1 run midway through the set to take an 18-11 lead, and the Tigers held off a pair of late rally attempts by the Razorbacks to eventually earn a second-set win.
Set three, however, belonged to Arkansas from the first point as the Razorbacks took a 25-15 win. Auburn managed just a .100 hitting percentage compared to Arkansas' .385, with six of the Razorbacks' 19 kills coming from Norton. The Hogs jumped out to a 7-1 lead that eventually became 15-6, and the Tigers could never recover. Bullock and Fidero had two kills apiece in the third set to lead Auburn.
The Tigers were strong offensively in the fourth set and won most every statistical category, but four service errors and two aces by Arkansas made up for the difference in kills and digs as the Hogs took a 25-19 win to clinch the match. Auburn had 15 kills to Arkansas' 10 in the set, but the Tigers also had eight errors as they hit .152 in the final frame.
The Tigers will wrap up a four-match road swing Sunday as they travel to Baton Rouge, La., to take on the LSU Tigers. First serve is set for 1 p.m. at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center, and Cox Sports TV will carry a regional broadcast throughout the states of Louisiana and Arkansas and parts of Texas and Mississippi.