Texas A&M Snaps Auburn's Win Streak in Four Sets

AUBURNTIGERSDOTCOM
<B>Courtney McDonald</b>

AUBURNTIGERSDOTCOM
Courtney McDonald
AUBURNTIGERSDOTCOM

Nov. 9, 2012

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AUBURN - Auburn's volleyball team could not take advantage of numerous opportunities against a strong Texas A&M squad, falling 3-1 (21-25, 24-26, 25-22, 23-25) to the Aggies Friday night at the Student Activities Center.

The Tigers (17-9, 8-8 SEC) saw their four-match SEC winning streak come to an end at the hands of Texas A&M (20-5, 12-4), which added to its lead in the SEC Western Division. All four sets were competitive to the last point, but all the bounces seemed to go the Aggies' way on this night.

"I thought we were pretty inconsistent," Auburn head coach Rick Nold said. "Really up and down. Against a team like that, you just can't afford to take plays off. We got some opportunities. We scrapped back in a lot of situations, which is good to see. It was a close match. A play here and there, and maybe it goes our way. But again, when it comes down to it, you just can't take as many plays off as we did.

"Obviously there's some parts of that they earned, and some you question that maybe we gave them. And I'm sure they'd say the same thing back. But for our side, we've got to control the things we're doing. And I didn't think we did a great job of that. We had some runs for ourselves, but we've got to take care of the ball."

Reigning SEC Defensive Player of the Week Camila Jersonsky had another strong performance, putting down 17 kills on 30 attacks with just five errors for a .400 hitting percentage. She also recorded five digs and three blocks in the match. Sarah Bullock and Katherine Culwell both recorded double-doubles; Bullock had 13 kills and Culwell had 12 while both finished with 11 digs.

Chelsea Wintzinger was one assist shy of her season-high with 34 on the night, and libero Sarah Wroblicky had a team-high 13 digs. And Courtney McDonald added eight kills with just one error for a team-high .412 hitting percentage.

Texas A&M setter Allie Sawatzky, last week's SEC Offensive Player of the Week, filled the stat sheet with seven kills, 41 assists, 10 digs, five blocks and three service aces. Alisia Kastmo led the Aggie attack with 17 kills while Tori Mellinger added 13 kills and 14 digs.

The serve-and-pass game was a key for both teams as Texas A&M had seven service aces while Auburn had four. The Tigers also committed five errors while A&M had four. Auburn had more kills than Texas A&M (61-55), but A&M won the stat battles in aces, digs (62-60), blocks (11-7) and hitting percentage (.205-.188).

The Aggies jumped out to a 13-10 lead in the first set and never trailed again as they took a 25-21 win. Auburn pulled as close as one point at 18-17 but could never get over the hump as A&M had 15 kills with just four errors in the opening frame. Auburn had 17 kills, though, led by five from Culwell and four each from Jersonsky and Bullock.

Set two was the game-changer. Auburn jumped out quickly to an 8-1 lead on a strong service game from Bullock, but the Aggies kept clawing their way back. However, a late run by the Tigers gave them a 24-20 lead and four chances at set point. But after an Aggie timeout, Texas A&M got a kill and three straight attack errors from Auburn to tie the set at 24-all. A kill from Lindsey Miller gave the Aggies set point at 25-24, and an ace finished off the set and gave A&M a 2-0 lead.

Despite the setback and then falling in an 8-1 hole in the third set, Auburn refused to give up. The Tigers went on a 15-6 run of their own to take a 16-14 lead and never trailed again in set three, winning 25-22. Auburn held the Aggies to an .094 hitting percentage in the third set, and a big performance from Jersonsky (6 kills on 8 attacks with one error for a .625 hitting mark) kept the match alive for Auburn.

The fourth set was a back-and-forth affair that saw 12 ties and five lead changes. Auburn led by as many as three points at 14-11, then held a two-point lead at 17-15. But from there, the Aggies would score seven in a row to take a 22-17 lead, taking advantage of three Auburn errors on their 7-0 run. But Auburn would respond, scoring the next five straight to tie the game at 22-all. Two sideouts later, the Tigers were serving at 23-all, but an Aggie kill followed by an Auburn error were enough to finish the match off with a 25-23 A&M win.

Auburn will have Sunday off before finishing the season with four matches in an-eight day stretch over the next two weeks. The Tigers will travel to Knoxville to face Tennessee next Friday, Nov. 16, at 6 p.m. CT, then head to Tuscaloosa next Sunday, Nov. 18, for a 1:30 p.m. match against Alabama.