Nov. 4, 2011
AUBURN - Four Auburn players had double-doubles and the Tiger volleyball team fought to the last point in all four sets against SEC West-leading LSU, but ultimately fell in a tight battle with the Bayou Bengals, 3-1 (26-28, 35-33, 25-27, 23-25) on Friday night at the Student Activities Center.
Auburn (10-15, 4-11 SEC) had numerous opportunities in all four sets to pull out a victory, but LSU (16-8, 9-5 SEC) was able to score points at just the right time and leave Auburn with a hard-fought win.
"Obviously a very competitive match," Auburn head coach Rick Nold said. "There were just a couple of points where we were a little conservative, and that was the difference. We talked a lot about serving. They pass the ball really well; we've got to find their weaker passers and go after them. It just didn't go our way tonight.
"We've talked about this for a while - we're right there. I think sometimes, we've got to take some chances in those close situations. We had some opportunities. In game two we really went after them. You saw both teams playing well at the end. But in the end, we've just got to step up and make plays."
Four Tigers posted double-doubles on the night. Senior Kelly Fidero had her second straight effort with 20+ kills, recording exactly 20 to go along with 10 digs for her second consecutive double-double and the third of her career. Sarah Bullock had 15 kills and 17 digs for her ninth double-double of the year. Both Auburn setters had double-doubles as well: Chelsea Wintzinger recorded 34 assists and 10 digs for her third of the season, and Christina Solverson had her first of the year with 20 assists and 13 digs.
Kathia Rud, making her second SEC start, was impressive yet again with a 16-kill performance with just two errors in 27 attacks, hitting a team-best .519. Sarah Wroblicky had yet another solid defensive performance with a match-high 26 digs, and Courtney McDonald led Auburn with four blocks.
Auburn hit .239 as a team to LSU's .247 and had four more kills (71-67) than the SEC's other Tigers. Auburn also had 84 digs to LSU's 67, but LSU recorded seven service aces to Auburn's one and 15 blocks to Auburn's six.
The first set saw 11 ties and eight lead changes - and that was one of the less competitive sets. LSU led most of the way, but Auburn fought off two set point attempts at 24-22 to tie the game at 24 apiece. LSU had another set point chance at 25-24, but a kill from Bullock tied the score again. An LSU error gave Auburn a set point chance at 26-25, but LSU's Madie Jones posted three straight kills to give the purple and gold Tigers a 28-26 first-set win.
Set two was one of the most epic games of volleyball in the SEC this year as the lead changed hands six times and saw the score tied on an amazing 20 occasions. LSU led 21-19 - the largest lead for either team in the set - before Auburn scored three straight to take a 22-21 lead. Auburn had the first chance at set point at 24-23, but could not convert. AU again had set point at 25-24 and 26-25, but again LSU came through. LSU then had chances to win the set at 28-27, 29-28, 30-29, 31-30, and 32-31, but all five times Auburn was able to stay alive. After LSU fought off another Auburn set point attempt at 33-32 with another Madie Jones kill, an LSU service error set up Kelly Fidero for her seventh kill of the set - Auburn's 24th - to give Auburn a 35-33 victory and tie the match up at one set apiece.
For the third straight set, it would take more than 25 points to decide a winner. This time. Auburn had three chances to put the game away with a 24-21 lead. But a service error and two straight kills from Helen Boyle tied the score at 24 apiece. Chloe Rowand got a kill to give Auburn another chance at 25-24, but LSU would score three straight points - two on Auburn errors - to take the 27-25 win. In that third set, the lead changed hands seven times and saw the score tied 12 times.
Auburn jumped out to a 16-10 lead in the fourth set and things looked to be headed to a deciding game. But LSU fought back and took advantage of several Auburn errors to eventually tie the score at 19-19, then go on a 4-1 run to make it 23-20 on two more Auburn errors. A kill from Jones gave LSU match point at 24-21, at which point Auburn survived two attempts but not a third as LSU earned a 25-23 win and a victory in the match. Auburn out-hit LSU .300 to .220 in the final set but LSU had three service aces and four blocks to Auburn's zero aces and one block.
The Tigers will be back in action Sunday afternoon as another SEC West opponent - the Arkansas Razorbacks - visits the Student Activities Center. First serve is set for 1:30 p.m., and admission is free.