BATON ROUGE, La. - In one of the most improbable comebacks anyone can remember, the Auburn Tigers fought off nine LSU set- or match-point chances and held on for a 3-2 win (26-24, 18-25, 18-25, 28-26, 15-11) in SEC volleyball action Friday night at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.
The Tigers (17-9, 8-6) hit just .122 in the match but came up with some huge plays at the most opportune times and fought off four set points in the first set and five match points in the fourth, then took an early lead in set five and never looked back.
"It was an ugly match on our side, and there's a lot of things we need to do a lot better," Auburn head coach Rick Nold said. "But the thing we were able to do was battle. We battled at some really important times. We stayed aggressive. And when you do that, you can earn some points. Again, it's not always going to be pretty, but I was proud of the way we battled through a tough match."
Auburn was down 24-21 in the first set and facing three set point opportunities for LSU, but kills from Courtney McDonald, Camila Jersonsky and a block by Jersonsky and Emily Klitzke tied it up, then two straight swings from Katherine Culwell gave the Tigers a first-set victory, 26-24.
Set four was an even more dire situation. Leading the match 2-1, LSU led the fourth game 24-20 and had four chances at match point. A Jersonsky kill and a Klitzke/Jersonsky block made it 24-22, and a controversial over-the-net call on an LSU swing that would have ended the match gave Auburn another lease on life at 24-23. From there, Jersonsky tied it up with another kill, then put down two more, including the set-winner, to send the match to a deciding fifth set.
In the fifth, Auburn jumped out to a 4-1 lead and never trailed, despite LSU pulling within a point at 9-8. Three LSU errors increased Auburn's lead to 13-9, and kills by Jersonsky and Culwell put the match away to give the Tigers their first win in Baton Rouge since 1999.
Jersonsky led the Auburn attack with a career-high 19 kills, including seven in the all-important fourth set. Four Tigers had double-doubles on the night: Culwell (15 kills, 22 digs), Kathia Rud (14 kills, career-high 21 digs), Chelsea Wintzinger (34 assists, 13 digs) and Alyssa Ivey (25 assists, 13 digs). Wintzinger moved into fourth place all-time at Auburn with 2,552 career assists. Stephanie Campbell also added 12 kills on the night.
Senior Sarah Wroblicky was a defensive standout in the match, posting a career-high 33 digs, the fourth-highest dig total in Auburn history and the most since the 25-point rally scoring era began in 2008. Wroblicky also moved within two digs of fifth all-time at Auburn; she now has 1,183 for her career.
The Tigers shattered the team digs record for the rally scoring era with 112, 15 more than the previous high of 97 against Georgia in 2007. It was just shy of the all-time, all-era record of 117, set against Central Florida in 1986.
LSU's defense, meanwhile, was spectacular. The purple and gold Tigers had 20 blocks in the match, including 10 from freshman Briana Holman, who had 13 kills for a kills-blocks double-double. Desiree Elliott had eight blocks to go with 13 kills, and setter Malorie Pardo had eight blocks with 50 assists. LSU also posted 111 digs with 32 coming from Katie Lindelow.
Auburn hit just .122 for the match, a season-worst in a winning effort. LSU was less than spectacular themselves at .172. Auburn had 67 kills to LSU's 60 and one more dig than their opponent (112-111), but LSU won the blocking battle 20-9.
Auburn will wrap up the weekend road trip Sunday afternoon in College Station, Texas, as the Tigers face Texas A&M at 1:30 p.m. Live audio and live stats will be available at AuburnTigers.com