Oct. 28, 2012
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OXFORD, Miss. - Sarah Bullock and Katherine Culwell both posted double-doubles for the fourth straight match, and another stellar offensive performance led Auburn's volleyball team to a 3-0 sweep (25-16, 25-19, 25-19) of Ole Miss on Sunday afternoon at the Gillom Sports Center.
With a sweep of South Carolina on Friday night, the Tigers (15-8, 6-7 SEC) earned back-to-back road wins in SEC play for the first time since the end of the 2010 season, when Auburn beat Alabama, Mississippi State and Georgia on the road to close out the season. Ole Miss (10-11, 4-8 SEC) had a two-match win streak snapped after the Rebels beat South Carolina and Missouri last weekend.
The Tigers hit .325 in the match, giving them two straight contests over the .300 mark, with 52 kills against just 15 errors in today's match. Auburn was also outstanding on defense, holding Ole Miss to a .140 hitting mark and out-digging the Rebels 52-38.
"This came at a great time" Auburn head coach Rick Nold said of the weekend sweep. "I think we really needed that. One of the things we felt really good about was our serving - not necessarily just serving aggressively, but finding ways to take them out of their offense a little bit and make it easier on our defense. Today, I thought that was the difference.
"Our serve-receive throughout the weekend was much better. You give your offense more opportunities, and you can spread things around to make it more difficult to defend us."
Bullock and Culwell were outstanding for the second straight match. Bullock finished with 17 kills and 14 digs for her fourth-straight double-double. She had 15 kills in the first two sets - seven in the first and eight in the second - before the Rebels made an adjustment to stop her.
"I think Sarah was taking advantage of her opportunities," Nold said. "She got several opportunities when we were out of system, and she made some aggressive swings. It wasn't necessarily something we planned on, but when something's working, you keep going to it. They made an adjustment and brought a bigger block on the right side, and (running offense through the middle) was our way to combat that. I thought Katherine stayed aggressive on the outside with that block, and we made some big plays."
Culwell also had her fourth-straight double-double with 12 kills and 12 digs, and she contributed a pair of blocks and a service ace as well. With just two errors on the day, she finished with a .345 hitting percentage.
Camila Jersonsky had another strong performance with eight kills on 13 attacks with just two errors for a .462 hitting percentage. Courtney McDonald and Halle Kearney had six kills apiece. Sarah Wroblicky hit the double-digit mark in digs with 10, and Ciara Richards had a match-high 23 assists.
Ole Miss shuffled its lineup throughout the match and spread its 31 kills among nine players. Setter Amanda Philpot led all categories with seven kills, eight digs and 18 assists.
"There's a way that we played this weekend in terms of consistency, great effort, making scrappy plays," Nold said. "That's something we've been trying to find this season, and hopefully this is something we've found that we can keep. A lot of it is just coming to practice and doing the things we see out here."
Ole Miss jumped out to a 5-1 lead early in the first set, but an 11-3 run by the Tigers gave Auburn a 12-8 lead it would never relinquish. Auburn kept up its hot offensive performance from Friday's match, hitting .455 in the opening set with 18 kills against just three errors to take a 25-16 win and an early 1-0 lead.
The second set was more of the same as Auburn jumped out to a big lead at 12-4, courtesy of seven kills from Bullock in that opening stretch. The Rebels would close the gap to as few as three points at 20-17, but Auburn ended the set on a 5-2 run to take a 25-19 win and a two-set lead into the break.
In the third set, Ole Miss came out with a different lineup and caught Auburn off-guard to the tune of a 4-0 lead, but the Tigers would fight back and take their first lead at 11-10 on a kill from Kearney. The lead changed hands three times and the score was tied on five occasions in the set, but the Tigers would move ahead for good on back-to-back kills from Culwell, who had six in the set, at 16-14. From there, Auburn extended its lead to as many as six points and finished off the Rebels with a 25-19 win.
Auburn will be home for the next two weekend with three straight matches at the Student Activities Center. Homecoming weekend kicks off Friday night with a 7 p.m. home contest against the Arkansas Razorbacks.