COLUMBIA, S.C. -- The Auburn volleyball team used a collective effort to earn a 3-1 (20-25, 29-27, 25-18, 25-22) win at South Carolina Sunday night in the Carolina Volleyball Center. The Tigers improved to 12-8 overall and 5-6 in the Southeastern Conference.
"I like how we responded in a positive way after the first set," head coach Rick Nold said. "We came out and put pressure on them, trusting ourselves and the game plan we put together. Our defense was disciplined and the passers gave Alexa (Filley) great opportunities to spread out the offense. We had a handful of players step up when we needed kills and our blocking was more aggressive, taking opportunities away from South Carolina."
Junior Brenna McIlroy led the way with a season-high 17 kills to go with 17 digs for her fifth double-double of the season. Freshman Anna Stevenson of Laurens, S.C., had a career day for the Tigers, having 13 kills and eight blocks. Sophomore Shaina White added 12 kills in the match.
Senior setter Alexa Filley recorded her 13th double-double of the season with 48 assists and 12 digs, adding two blocks for the Tigers. Senior libero Jesse Earl finished with 14 digs and three service aces, while sophomore Karis Beasley totaled eight digs and two aces. Sophomore Gwyn Jones set a career-best with five blocks on the day and freshman Payton White chipped in nine digs.
South Carolina (10-12-, 3-7) was led by Mikayla Shields with 17 kills. Libero Aubrey Ezell totaled 17 digs and Mikayla Robinson had a match-high nine blocks. Setter Courtney Koehler finished with 33 assists and nine digs.
An ace from Earl and a kill by S. White gave the Tigers a quick 4-3 lead in the opening stanza, but the home squad pushed a run to go ahead 9-7. Auburn battled back to take a 12-11 lead on a Courtney Crable kill before tough SC blocks made it 19-17. The Gamecocks closed out the set on a 6-1 run to win, 25-20.
The second set was a back-and-forth affair late, seeing 14 ties and six lead changes. SC held momentum early and went up 11-8 to force an Auburn timeout. The Tigers used another timeout with the Gamecocks up 16-12 and then capitalized on tough serving from Beasley to take a 21-19 lead. Another ace from Earl gave Auburn set point, but SC came back to lock it up at 24. After exchanging points, the Tigers took the set with a big block by Filley/Jones, 29-27.
With the help of tough serving from McIlroy and Earl, the Tigers grabbed a quick 8-3 advantage in the third. The Gamecocks inched their way back into the set and used big blocks to take a 12-11 lead. A kill from S. White and a solo stuff for Stevenson made it 18-16 AU and efficient hitting for the Tigers closed out the set, 25-18.
Auburn capitalized on South Carolina errors in the fourth and went up 8-4. Kills from Jones and Stevenson made it 11-6 and a McIlroy slam sent the teams into the media timeout, 15-7. The Gamecocks crept back into the set and forced an Auburn timeout with the Tigers leading 17-13. More SC errors pushed AU to a 23-18 advantage and after a late rally from the home team, a kill from S. White sealed the match, 25-22.
Auburn returns to The Plains for a Wednesday night tilt, hosting rival Alabama. The Tigers and the Crimson Tide square off at 7 p.m. CT and the match will be broadcast live on SEC Network.