AUBURN, Ala. -- The Auburn volleyball opened a busy weekend on the Plains with a 3-1 (25-22, 23-25, 25-18, 25-20) victory over Tennessee Friday night in Auburn Arena. The Tigers improved to 14-8 on the season and 7-6 in the Southeastern Conference.
The match was a back and forth affair, seeing 45 ties over four sets played.
"We settled down as the match went along and that gave us a chance to be successful defensively," head coach Rick Nold said. "We really embraced the good match with a team that is as good as Tennessee is. We needed to just keep battling and trusting ourselves and we did that."
Auburn saw a balanced effort on all fronts, having three student-athletes finished in double-digit kills and four in double-digit digs.
"Alexa (Filley) did a good job attacking their weaker blockers and allowing our hitters to get good swings on the ball," Nold added. "That gave our defenders a chance to make some plays in the back. We did a great job handling Tennessee's out-of-system plays and at handling the simple stuff."
Junior Brenna McIlroy led all players with 20 kills on the night. That total was a season-best for the Garland, Texas, product. She added 12 digs for her seventh double-double of the year.
Sophomore Shaina White finished with 17 kills, while classmate Gwyn Jones had 11. Senior setter Alexa Filley had a match-high 53 assists and added a season-best 21 digs for her 15th double-double. Senior Macy Reece came in off the bench for the Tigers and had a solid performance with seven kills and three blocks.
Tennessee (11-12, 4-10) was led by Tessa Grubbs with 10 kills, while Madison Coulter and Breana Jeter finished with nine a piece. Libero Brooke Schumacher had a match-high 26 digs and Erica Treiber totaled eight blocks. Setter Sedona Hansen guided the Volunteer offense with 25 assists to go with 16 digs.
A trio of kills by McIlroy highlighted the start of the match, giving Auburn a quick 4-1 advantage. The Volunteers responded with a run to take their first lead at 12-10. A kill from Anna Stevenson followed by one from Jones sent the Tigers on a 5-1 rally to make it 16-16 and a pair of UT errors lifted the home team to an 18-17 lead. A kill by McIlroy gave the Tigers set point and the squad took the stanza, 25-22.
The second set saw the teams go back and forth throughout, having 14 ties overall. Locked at 6-all, UT pushed a run to take a three-point advantage at 9-6. Kills from S. White boosted AU to a 15-13 lead before another rally from the Volunteers made it 19-18 UT. Tennessee held on for a 25-23 set win.
The Tigers and the Vols exchanged sideouts to kick off the third until a kill and a solo block from Reece pushed AU ahead at 13-12. Another kill from Reece followed by a handful of UT errors forced a Volunteer timeout with the Tigers up 18-15 and a kill by McIlroy made it 21-17. Strong serving from Earl closed out the set with a 25-18 win.
Tied at 10-10 in the final stanza, a 5-1 Auburn run brought the two squads to the media timeout with the Tigers up 15-11. A service ace from Beasley pushed the Tigers ahead at 21-17 and kills from McIlroy and S. White closed out the match, giving AU a 25-20 victory
Auburn caps the full weekend schedule with a 1:30 p.m. CT contest vs. No. 7 Kentucky Sunday, Nov. 12. The Tigers and Wildcats will go head-to-head in Auburn Arena and the match will be streamed live on SEC Network+.