Nov. 13, 2009
AUBURN, Ala. - Down two sets, the Auburn volleyball squad battled back and defeated Tennessee, 3-2 (11-15, 20-25, 25-22, 25-21, 17-15), Friday at the Student Activities Center. The win marks just the second time this decade the Tigers have bested the Lady Vols.
"It was a great, gutsy win for our young squad," Wade Benson, head volleyball coach, said. "It showed us that not giving up pays off. They worked very hard today and all week at practice. It is a nice victory for this team."
With the win, Auburn improves to 15-12 overall and 7-9 in the SEC, while Tennessee is now 19-7 and 12-4 in conference play.
"We stuck it out and fought hard as a team," junior Morgan Johns said. "We came together and matured a lot as a squad over the season and this game showed it tonight."
Johns led Auburn offensively with 17 kills, while libero Liz Crouch finished with a team-best 19 digs. Freshman Sarah Bullock picked up her sixth double-double of the year, finishing with 10 kills and 11 digs. Classmate Katherine Culwell added 10 kills and four blocks for the Tigers.
Setting duo Christina Solverson and Sara Shanks each recorded double-doubles on the evening. Solverson had a career-high 18 digs to go with 27 assists, while Shanks finished with 12 assists and 15 digs. Junior Lauren Mellor led the squad with six blocks and Alyssa Davis added four.
Tennessee's Nikki Fowler finished with a match-high 22 kills and 15 digs. Kayla Jeter tallied 15 kills, while libero Chloe Goldman had a match-best 23 digs. Setter Kelsey Mahoney recorded 53 assists and 19 digs for the Lady Vols.
Tennessee opened the match with 4-0 run in the first set and pushed forward to go up 10-3. A kill from Bullock cut the Lady Vols' lead to six at 10-4, but the visiting team put together another big run to take a 15-5 lead. The Lady Vols went on to take the set, 25-11.
A handful of Tennessee attack errors, with kills from Johns and Davis gave Auburn a 6-3 lead at the start of set two. A small run brought the Lady Vols within one at 10-9, but a 5-1 Tiger rally gave Auburn the 15-10 advantage. Tennessee fought back and tied the set at 16 and with the set locked at 19, a 6-1 Tennessee run gave the Lady Vols the 25-20 win.
Tennessee started the third set just as the first, opening with a 4-1 lead. A kill from Culwell, however, brought Auburn within a point at 5-4 and a service ace from Crouch tied the set a nine apiece. The squads battled back a forth through the middle of the set until a pair of Tennessee errors and a Culwell kill pushed Auburn to a 20-18 lead. A trio of kills from Johns and a pair from Bullock propelled the Tigers to a 25-22 set three win.
The teams fought in the beginning of set four, seeing seven ties. Down a point at 8-7, a kill from Shanks sparked a three-point rally to give Auburn its first lead of the set at 10-8. Another big Tiger run gave Auburn its largest lead at 18-12 and a kill from Davis solidified a 25-21 victory.
In the final set, Tennessee came out with a quick 6-3 lead and went up by as much as four at 10-6. A pair of kills from Davis brought Auburn within three at 11-8 and a kill from Mellor closed the gap even more, seeing Tennessee up just 13-11. Facing match point, a kill by Johns and a service ace from Chanelle Clark kept the Tigers alive and a Lady Vols setting error tied the set at 14. With momentum on Auburn's side, two more kills from Johns pushed Auburn to a 17-15 match win.
The Tigers return to the Student Activities Center on Sunday as they host No. 11 Kentucky at 1:30 p.m. Admission is free to the public.