Aug. 25, 2011
GameTracker | Tournament Notes
@AUVolleyball on Twitter | Auburn Volleyball on Facebook
AUBURN - The 2011 season and a new era for Auburn Volleyball get underway Friday, Aug. 26, as the Tigers travel to Gainesville, Fla., for the Active Ankle Challenge.
The Tigers will face a pair of foes from the Atlantic Coast Conference in the two-day tournament. Up first will be North Carolina, the defending ACC Champion and an NCAA Tournament participant in 2010. The Tigers will then face Boston College on Saturday. The Tigers have won six of their last seven season openers and are 22-27 all-time against the ACC.
Fans can follow @AUVolleyball on Twitter for live updates throughout both weekend matches. Live stats are also available through GameTracker.
ABOUT AUBURN VOLLEYBALL
This is the 26th year of intercollegiate volleyball at Auburn University. The Tigers enter the 2011 season with an all-time record of 378-401 (.485) and an all-time SEC mark of 123-236 (.343). In 2010, the Tigers had one of the best seasons in school history as they earned the program's first NCAA Tournament berth, advancing to the second round with a win over Missouri State. Auburn finished with an overall record of 21-13, including an 11-9 mark in SEC play. Both records were the best in more than a decade for the Tiger volleyball program.
Auburn returns four starters and 12 letterwinners from last year's team. Auburn has two seniors, four juniors, seven sophomores and one freshman on their 14-player roster.
THE RICK NOLD ERA BEGINS
Friday marks the debut of head coach Rick Nold - as well as assistants Eysha Ambler and Floyd Deaton - on the Auburn sideline. Nold comes to Auburn from Jacksonville State, where he served nine years as head coach, leading the Gamecocks to three NCAA Tournament appearances and an overall record of 172-98.
Nold is the eighth head coach in Auburn history. Here's a breakdown of the seven previous Tiger coaches and their first seasons at the helm:
|Coach||First Match||First Year|
|Pat Ghastin (1986-90)||L 1-3 vs. NE Louisiana|| 19-16|
|Sharon Dingman (1991)||W 3-0 vs. Fla. Int'l|| 22-13|
|Liz Bitzer (1992-97)||L 2-3 vs. Wright State|| 11-19|
|Kris Grunwald (1998-99)|| W 3-0 vs. FAMU ||22-9|
|Kevin Renshler (2000-01)||W 3-0 vs. South Alabama|| 13-16|
|Laura Farina (2002-07)||L 0-3 vs. Wake Forest|| 1-27|
|Wade Benson (2008-10)||L 0-3 vs. Samford ||6-25|
|Rick Nold (2011- )||?? ??|
SCOUTING NORTH CAROLINA
North Carolina returns nine letterwinners from its most successful season in a decade after the Tar Heels - much like Auburn - advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Highlighting the three returning starters for the Heels is senior libero Kaylie Gibson, the 2010 ACC Defensive Player of the Year. Gibson posted 690 digs in 128 sets (5.48 DPS) to lead the ACC and rank in the nation's top 15 a year ago. She comes into the season with 1,496 career digs. The offensive attack is paced by junior setter Cora Harms (997 assists; 8.07 APS) and senior middle blocker Shelbey Bleke (.234 pct.; 175-74-432).
Last season, UNC finished 25-10 overall and 15-5 in ACC play to finish second in the conference. Head coach Joe Sagula is in his 22nd season at the helm of the Tar Heel program, amassing a 421-272 record in his tenure.
NORTH CAROLINA SERIES HISTORY
Auburn and North Carolina have met just three times on the volleyball court, but this will be the first meeting in 18 years. All three previous matches between the schools have gone to five sets. The Tigers are 1-2 all-time against the Tar Heels, winning the teams' first meeting in 1990 by a 3-2 score in Columbia, S.C. The teams met again in 1992 in Athens, Ga., with the Tar Heels taking a 3-2 victory. UNC also won the third meeting on Sept. 25, 1993, in a tournament the Tar Heels hosted in Chapel Hill.
SCOUTING BOSTON COLLEGE
Boston College lost four starters from a team that went 9-24 (1-19 ACC) in 2010, but nine letterwinners return for the Eagles in 2011. The Eagles do, however, return their 2010 leader in hit percentage, sophomore middle blocker Melissa McTighe, who hit at a .313 clip last season with 130 kills in 319 attacks.
The Eagles are led by second-year head coach Chris Campbell, a former Auburn assistant.
BOSTON COLLEGE SERIES HISTORY
Auburn and Boston College have met just once in previous years. The Tigers took a 3-0 victory over the Eagles on Sept. 5, 1997, at the Rhode Island Classic in Kingston, R.I.
Auburn will open its home schedule on Tuesday, Aug. 30, as the Tigers play host to Alabama A&M at the Student Activities Center. First serve is set for 7 p.m., and admission is free.