Tigers Drop Tight Contest to No. 20 Tennessee, 3-1
Oct. 21, 2011
AUBURN - The Auburn volleyball team won the first set from No. 20 Tennessee, but could not capitalize on an early lead as the Tigers dropped a 3-1 (25-19, 20-25, 23-25, 18-25) decision to the Lady Vols on Friday night at the Student Activities Center.
Auburn (9-12, 3-8 SEC) dropped its fifth straight match and lost for just the second time at home this year. Tennessee (17-3, 10-1 SEC) extended its lead in the SEC Eastern Division and its overall lead in the conference title race.
"I think we had our opportunities," Auburn head coach Rick Nold said. "In game one, we probably didn't play our best, but we stayed aggressive and took advantage of some of their mistakes and got them out of system. As the match went along, the opportunities were there. We've just got to learn to capitalize on those, and you do that by being the aggressor. We're right there, it's just a matter of turning the corner."
Senior Kelly Fidero shared the Tiger lead along with sophomore Camila Jersonsky as each recorded nine kills apiece. Sarah Bullock added six and Courtney McDonald had five. Jersonsky led the Tigers with a .438 attack percentage. For the first time in SEC play, no Auburn player hit double-digits in kills.
Bullock led the Tigers with 10 digs, but snapped a string of five consecutive double-doubles. The junior also added two of Auburn's five service aces, as did Jersonsky.
The Tigers recorded a season-high 15 blocks as a team, led by Jersonsky's six and Bullock's five. Brittney Rhude and McDonald had four blocks apiece. Chelsea Wintzinger led Auburn with 30 assists, while Christina Solverson added five as the Tigers switched back to a 6-2 offense in the third set.
Tennessee was led by Tiffany Baker with 19 kills and a .447 hitting percentage. DeeDee Harrison had 12 kills, and Kelsey Robinson posted a double-double with 10 kills and 10 digs.
Auburn had 15 blocks to Tennessee's 11 and five service aces to the Lady Vols' three. But Tennessee controlled the remaining categories, including kills (57-41), digs (51-41) and attack percentage (.238-.172). The Tigers fell to 1-10 on the year when hitting below the .200 mark.
The Tigers jumped out to an early lead in the first set and never trailed in a 25-19 win to take a 1-0 lead in the match. Auburn led by as many as five in the early going and won the battle in the service game. Tennessee committed six service errors, and Auburn recorded three service aces (two by Jersonsky) to account for a nine-point swing in the game. Each team had 10 kills, but Auburn out-hit Tennessee .222 to .143. The Lady Vols cut the lead to as little as 19-16 late, but Auburn would score the next two points on two UT service errors and an attack error, then pulled away for a first-set win.
Like Auburn in the first set, Tennessee took an early lead and never trailed as the Lady Vols took a 25-20 win in set two. Tennessee had 16 kills and hit .324 in the set, led by eight kills from Baker. The Lady Vols jumped out to a 10-4 lead before Auburn cut the lead to 14-11 on kills from Wintzinger and McDonald, forcing a UT timeout. From there, the teams would trade sideouts on 13 consecutive rallies before Tennessee took a 21-17 lead on another Baker kill. Auburn fought off one set point at 24-19 before Robinson put down a kill to end the set.
The third set saw Auburn fight back from a large early deficit to make it a one-point game, but Tennessee eventually pulled away for 25-23 win. UT led early 15-9, but the Tigers would go on a 7-3 run to cut the deficit to 18-16 on a Fidero kill, forcing a Tennessee timeout. A Tennessee error made it a one-point game at 20-19 before Tennessee pulled ahead to set point at 24-21. A kill by Vesela Zapryanova and an ace from Bullock fought off two set points and made it again a one-point game, but a kill from Leslie Cikra gave UT a 2-1 lead in the match.
Auburn jumped out to an early lead in set four but could not hold on as Tennessee put away the match with a 25-18 win. After leading 4-0, Auburn saw Tennessee chip away, eventually taking the lead at 9-8 on two straight kills from Baker. UT would sustain an 11-5 run from that point, taking an 18-13 lead and coasting to the finish. The Lady Vols had 19 kills to Auburn's eight in the final set, hitting at a .333 clip.
The Tigers will face their second straight ranked opponent Sunday afternoon as No. 24 Kentucky visits the Student Activities Center for a 1:30 p.m. match. Admission is free.
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