AUBURN, Ala. -- The Auburn volleyball held off Alabama Wednesday night to defeat the Crimson Tide, 3-2 (25-21, 25-14, 20-25, 23-25, 15-11), in Auburn Arena. The Tigers improved to 13-8 overall and 6-6 in the Southeastern Conference.
"I'm happy with the way we embraced the battle today," head coach Rick Nold said. "We started off strong, but Alabama is a good team and we knew they would fight back. We had every opportunity to let that get us down. We kept fighting and that's the team we've been all year. It was great to see that tonight."
Five Tigers finished with double-digit kills with sophomore Shaina White leading the way at 15. Junior Brenna McIlroy totaled 14, while sophomore Gwyn Jones had 12. Senior Courtney Crable and freshman Anna Stevenson finished with 10 apiece.
Setter Alexa Filley had a match-high 51 assists to go with 13 digs for her 14th double-double of the season. Senior Jesse Earl led all student-athletes with 26 digs, while McIlroy had a season-best 19. Sophomore Karis Beasley added 10 digs for the Tiger defense.
Alabama (16-9, 4-7) had two student-athletes with double-digits offensively in Mahalia Swink and Ginger Perinar. Swink finished with 16 kills, while Perinar had 14. Setter Meghan Neelon had 45 assists and 14 digs and libero Quincey Gary led the team with 19 digs.
The Tide captured a quick 7-3 lead to start the match, but kills from S. White and Stevenson sent the Tigers on a 4-1 run to cut the Alabama lead at 9-7. A block from Jones/Filley triggered a four-point Tiger rally to push Auburn up 12-11. Kills by Crable and S. White forced a UA timeout with the home squad up 19-16 and the Tigers sealed the set with a S. White/Jones block, 25-21.
Kills by McIlroy highlighted the start for Auburn in the second and a kill by Crable sent the Tigers on a run to go up 7-6. A kill from Jones followed by one from Stevenson pushed a 9-1 Auburn rally for a 12-8 advantage. Another long Tiger run made it 21-10 and AU took the set, 25-14.
Tied at eight in set three, the Tide pushed an 8-0 run to go up 16-8. The Tigers chipped away at the visitor's advantage and forced a UA timeout at 22-18, but the Tide took the set, 25-20.
The fourth set was one of runs, seeing 10 ties throughout the stanza. Back-to-back Stevenson kills made it 8-5 Auburn before a long Tide rally pushed Alabama ahead, 11-8. The Tigers battled back to go up 14-12, but UA once again responded with a long push to take an 18-15 lead. Tied at 19, the teams went back and forth until the Tide held set point, 24-23, and forced a fifth with a 25-23 win.
A kill from Jones tied the deciding set at 6-6 before the visitors took two points to go up 8-6 at the media timeout. A pair of big kills from Crable followed by a UA error locked the set at 10 and a kill from McIlroy sparked a late Auburn push to give the Tigers the match, 15-11.
Following a much-earned, week-long break from competition, the Tigers host a pair of SEC opponents in Auburn Arena. The Tigers will welcome Tennessee to the Plains for a Thursday-night match, Nov. 9, starting at 7 p.m. CT. Auburn follows with a rematch with No. 6 Kentucky, Nov. 12, in Auburn Arena starting at 1:30 p.m. CT. Both matches will be streamed live on SEC Network+.