Volleyball Picks Up First SEC Victory In 3-0 Sweep Over Mississippi State
Oct. 31, 2008
AUBURN - A balanced offensive attack along with a .296 team hitting percentage helped the Auburn volleyball team (6-18, 1-12 SEC) pick up its first SEC victory of the season Friday at the Student Activities Center against Mississippi State (6-18, 1-12 SEC). The Tigers put together their best match of the season, cruising to a 3-0 (25-13, 25-13, 25-19) win over the Bulldogs.
The win over MSU marked several firsts for the Auburn netters. The win was the first over a SEC team this season, Auburn's first home victory, as well as head coach Wade Benson's first SEC win and first win in the Student Activities Center. The victory was also Auburn's first home SEC win in nearly two years wit the last one coming on Nov. 10, 2006 in a 3-2 decision over Mississippi State.
"Last year the team did not get one home win at all in the SEC, so it's been almost two years since we had a home win," said Benson. "This is a big deal, along with the fact that we won 3-0 - that was very impressive, especially at the scores that we did it in."
The win also broke some long droughts for this season as it was the first victory for Auburn since a 3-1 win over Oakland at the Michigan Pepsi Challenge on Sept. 13. It was also Auburn's first sweep since beating Presbyterian on Sept. 5 at the Mercer Bear Brawl.
After a few close calls this season, taking five-set losses against Arkansas twice, against Georgia and at Mississippi State, Benson was glad to finally get the first conference win out of the way.
"We have been working hard and playing well for the past two weeks; we should have had a win versus Arkansas as well as four or five others along the way, but we are very young and struggled to close out matches," said Benson. "It is nice now to have the monkey off our back."
Freshman Kelly Fidero led the balanced offensive attack with a team-high 10 kills, six of which came in the first set. She also posted a match-high .421 hitting percentage.
Right behind Fidero was senior Jessica Glover and sophomore Jonelle Wallace with eight kills each. Glover and Wallace also stepped up big on the defensive end, led by Glover's six digs and five blocks. Wallace chipped in five digs and three blocks of her own.
Balancing out the Tiger offensive effort were sophomores Milena Bukinac and Alyssa Davis with six kills each. Sophomore setter Sara Shanks also had a big match with 33 assists, seven digs, two blocks and a match-high three aces.
Defensively, sophomore libero Liz Crouch led all players with 16 digs. She also led the Auburn defensive effort that out-dug Mississippi State, 51-38.
"We played very well," said Benson. "If you look at the hitting percentages and the defensive digs, we put the whole match together very well and we plan on doing the same thing against Alabama on Sunday."
Auburn dominated in the first two sets, hitting over .400 in both. The Tigers hit. .105 in the third set to finish with a team hitting percentage of .296, compared to a .061 outing from Mississippi State.
Ioana Demian led MSU with six kills and eight digs. Leanna King and Dorey Gray added eight digs each to lead the Bulldog defensive effort while Ashley Newsome picked up four blocks.
Auburn was quick out of the gate in the first set, taking a 5-1 lead on the back of a pair of Fidero kills. After taking an 8-2 advantage, the Tigers forced MSU to take its first timeout. Auburn would hold on to that lead throughout the rest of the match en route to the 25-13 win.
MSU bounced back early in the second set, holding Auburn to a one-point advantage at the 6-5 mark. But, the Tigers came right back with a 13-3 run to build a 19-8 lead. AU was near-perfect in the set, racking up 13 kills on 28 attempts with only one error for a .429 hitting percentage and another 25-13 win.
The Bulldogs stayed with Auburn out of the gate, tying the third set at 6-6, but Auburn scored three straight points to force a MSU timeout. From there, Auburn steadily built up its leading, taking a seven-point advantage at one point en route to the 25-19 set and match win.
The Auburn volleyball team wraps up its homestand on Sunday with the "Iron Bowl of Volleyball" against in-state rival Alabama (11-10, 4-8 SEC). Action is set to begin at 1:30 p.m. in the Student Activities Center.
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