Oct. 27, 2013
COLUMBIA, S.C. - Auburn got its first sweep in Southeastern Conference volleyball play this season, taking down South Carolina 3-0 (25-22, 25-22, 25-23) on Sunday afternoon at the Volleyball Competition Facility.
The Tigers (13-8, 4-5 SEC) won at South Carolina for the second-straight time and fourth time in the last five trips to Columbia. In an extremely tight match, Auburn was able to fight off late pushes in all three sets by the Gamecocks (11-11, 3-6 SEC) and come away with a weekend split.
"I thought we did a really good job finishing all three games," Auburn head coach Rick Nold said. "We had some breakdowns in the middle of each game, but mentally, it's big for us when we can overcome some breakdowns to stay strong. I thought the outsides did a really good job swinging when we were out of system."
Katherine Culwell picked up her ninth double-double of the year with a 12-kill, 12-dig performance that also included a pair of service aces. Kathia Rud also had a double-double, her sixth of the season, with 10 kills and 11 digs, and Camila Jersonsky led all hitters with a .389 percentage, putting down 10 kills on the day. Freshman Stephanie Campbell also contributed nine kills in the match.
Sarah Wroblicky paced the defensive effort for the Tigers with a 14-dig performance along with a pair of assists. Emily Klitzke was big at the net for Auburn, posting a career-high five blocks along with three kills, and Courtney McDonald contributed four blocks as well.
South Carolina was led by senior Juliette Thevenin, who had 15 kills and 12 digs in her final match against Auburn. Darian Dozier had 10 kills on the day, and Kellie McNeil had 34 assists along with six digs and three kills.
All three sets saw one team build a lead only to see the opponent mount a big comeback. Carolina jumped out to an early 4-1 lead, only to see Auburn rally for a 14-9 lead.However, the Gamecocks clawed their way back to tie things up at 21-21 before a pair of Gamecock errors and an ace by Wintzinger gave the Tigers a chance at set point. A kill from Rud put the opening set away to give Auburn a 25-22 win.
Set two was very similar. The Gamecocks jumped out to an early five-point lead, but the Tigers fought back to take the lead for the first time at 12-11. Auburn's lead extended to 20-17 after a 3-0 run that included two-straight blocks from Klitzke and McDonald, and the Tigers held off another late push to take another 25-22 win and a 2-0 lead.
Auburn jumped out to an early lead in set three, pushing ahead by as many as six points at 11-5, but the Gamecocks scrapped their way back and eventually tied the match at 19-19. However, Carolina would never take the lead as the teams kept trading sideouts until a Rud kill gave Auburn a match point try at 24-22. After the Gamecocks fought off one attempt, a ball-handling error call gave the Tigers the game at 25-23 and a sweep in the match.
The teams were nearly even statistically with Auburn out-hitting Carolina .228-.216 and putting down just three more kills than the Gamecocks (46-43). Auburn had one more dig (52-51), and the teams were even in blocks with six apiece. The Tigers did have five service aces on the day, compared to just two for Carolina.
The Tigers will have a split weekend in SEC play next week. Auburn will travel to Knoxville, Tenn., to take on the Tennessee Lady Vols on Friday, Nov. 1, then head back home on Sunday to host Mississippi State. Sunday's match vs. the Bulldogs will begin at 3 p.m. and be televised by CSS.