Auburn Volleyball Preview
Auburn (2-1, 0-0 SEC) at Mercer - Wednesday, Sept. 8
Salsbageon Suites Invitationals w/St. Mary's, Oregon State and Oral Roberts
Friday Sept. 10 & Saturday, Sept. 11 Corvallis, Ore.
The Auburn volleyball team is in its 19th year of existence after the school reinstated the program in 1986 following a six-year hiatus ... Auburn is 295-278 (.515) since the reinstatement ... Laura Farina is in her third season at the helm of the Tigers, owning an 13-46 (.220) record ... Last season the Tigers experienced a nine-win turnaround from the prior year ... AU has four freshmen and a redshirt junior added to the mix this season.
Who's on the Schedule This Week
The Tigers head to Macon, Ga., for a single match with Mercer on Wednesday before jet-setting out to Corvallis, Ore., for the Salsbageon Suites Invitational at Oregon State. Besides the Beavers, AU will face St. Mary's and Oral Roberts.
Quoting Coach Farina on the Upcoming Matches...
"Mercer played us really tough last year. We beat them at home in four. Since we are the home opener and the inagural match in a new facility, I expect that they are going to be highly charged and ready to play Auburn. It has probabaly been a match highlighted on their schedule by their seniors since last year.
"I think (the OSU tournament) will provide great competition, but it is also the right time to have this type of compeition. St. Mary's just upset Stanford, Oregon State is a good Pac-10 team and Oral Roberts is always a solid team. Going to Oregon State will be a good chance to see where we are compared to the rest of the nation. This should be good preparation for the SEC schedule."
The Tigers went 2-1 in round-robin tournament play during the Mizuno/Auburn Challenge this past weekend. AU defeated both East Tennessee State and Birmingham Southern, 3-0, before falling to Iowa State, 3-2, in the finale.
Junior transfer Jennifer Amobi led the Tigesr with 43 kills and a 3.91 KPG mark while junior Bailey Veit averaged 2.73 KPG, 3.18 DPG and 1.64 BPG in being named to the all-tournament team. Freshman Rachel Shanks joined Veit on the all-tournament team after averaging 3.09 KPG with a .286 attack percentage.
Freshman Jordan Elliott posted a 12.55 APG mark in her first weekend on the court.
For the third straight season, Laura Farina will have the same assistants on her staff. Joining her for their seventh season together is Matt Darling. Farina and Darling spent the 1995 and 1996 seasons together at Michigan State, 1999-2001 at Marquette and the last two at Auburn. Steve Aird also begins his third year on the Plains after a stellar career at Penn State.
Tigers and Bears, Oh My!
Auburn and Mercer will be meeting for the second straight year on the volleyball court and the third time overall. Last season the Tigers defeated Mercer, 3-1, in the Auburn Challange. The only other meeting between the two schools was in 1995, when AU won , 3-1, in Macon, Ga.
AU vs. the Invite
The Tigers will be facing three new opponents at the Salsbageon Suites Invitational. Against the three conferences represented (SMC - West Coast, OSU - Pac-10, ORU - Mid-Continent), the Tigers are a combined 2-4 with both wins coming over Mid-Con teams.
AU Wins Season Opener
Auburn won its season-opener for the first time since 2000 when the Tigers knocked off East Tennessee State, 3-0. The win was also the first sesaon-opening victory in the six-year head coaching career of Laura Farina.
Bailey Veit and Rachel Shanks were both named to the Mizuno/Auburn Challenge All-Tournament team this past week. It marked the second straight season that Veit was named to the Auburn Challenge all-tournament squad.
The Tigers started the season with four newcomers and two returnees on the floor. Ashlee Johns and Bailey Veit both returned to the court for AU and were joined by three freshmen (Jordan Elliott, Whitney Jacob and Rachel Shanks) and a junior transfer (Jennifer Amobi).
Senior Jennifer Buckert has really responded to her role as the libero. In the team's match with Iowa State, Buckert dug a career-best 19 ISU attacks while also serving up an ace. The 19 digs was more than she had total as both a freshman and a sophomore.
After three matches this season, Auburn has already posted 31 total blocks. Compare that to the 2003 season when AU had just 17 after three games. Leading the way is junior Bailey Veit, who has 18 total blocks (5 BS, 13 BA) - and that is without the services of Julie Bosler, who led the Tigers in blocks last season (19 BS, 67 BA - 86 TB) who is out for the beginning part of the season with a lower leg injury.
Freshman Jordan Elliott was quick to grasp her role as team leader and setter during the Mizuno/Auburn Challange. In the match with Iowa State, Elliott set the table for 64 AU kills (12.80 APG) and average 12.55 APG for the weekend
With just three matches under their belts, the Tigers had already served up 20 aces, an average of 1.82 per game. Jordan Elliott has already served up eight to lead the team with just three service errors. However, the most dangerous server so far has been freshman Jelena Sekulic, who aced Iowa State with her first two serves of the season.