Sept. 22, 2011
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AUBURN - The Auburn volleyball team (6-6, 0-2 SEC) returns to the friendly confines of the Student Activities Center for the first time in nearly a month this weekend as the home SEC schedule opens with visits from Alabama and Ole Miss. Friday's match against the Crimson Tide is set for a 7 p.m. start, while first serve for the Ole Miss match will be at 1:30 p.m. Sunday.
Admission is free to all Auburn home volleyball matches. Live video for Friday's match and live stats for both matches will be available through AuburnTigers.com. In addition, fans can follow @AUVolleyball on Twitter for updates throughout the weekend.
Friday night will feature the Beat Bama Tailgate Contest where fans are encouraged to bring their best tailgate dish to the Student Act for a taste testing. The winning group will win a new HDTV for their tailgate. In addition, the Auburn pep band will be in attendance for the match. Sunday will feature a post-match autograph session where fans can meet their favorite players.
ABOUT THE TIGERS
Auburn enters the week led offensively by senior Kelly Fidero, who has 108 kills (2.63/set) on the season. Last week, she had a season-high 14 kills in a three-set loss to Tennessee, the best mark by a Tiger in a three-set match this season. For the weekend, she had 22 kills (3.67/set) and hit .341 on the opening weekend of SEC play. Sophomore Camila Jersonsky ranks fourth in the SEC in hitting percentage at .365.
The Tigers look to get back on the winning track after dropping five of their last six matches, all to teams that competed in the 2010 NCAA Tournament and are either ranked or receiving votes in the national polls. Last weekend, Auburn dropped a pair of 3-0 decisions on the road at Kentucky and Tennessee to open SEC play.
The Alabama Crimson Tide (6-6, 0-2 SEC) enter the weekend with an identical record to the Tigers, having dropped their first two SEC matches last week to Arkansas and LSU. The Tigers are hitting .225 as a team and holding opponents to a .205 percentage. Alabama is strong defensively, averaging 16.9 digs/set to rank second in the SEC in that category.
Junior outside hitter Kayla Fitterer leads the Tide with 216 kills (4.32/set), a mark that ranks third in the SEC. Andrea McQuaid and Stephanie Riley have split the assists with McQuaid averaging 5.72/set, but McQuaid is the Tide's leader in the service game with 16 aces. The team's digs have been evenly distributed with five players tallying more than 100, and junior Leigh Moyer leads the team with 30 blocks on the year.
Auburn and Alabama have one common opponent so far this year, and the results were identical. Alabama took down Austin Peay 3-1 in the Crimson Tide's home tournament on Aug. 26, and Auburn defeated the Lady Govs by a 3-1 count on Sept. 3 at the Blue Raider Bash. Alabama has won at least one set in every match it has played with only two of the Tide's matches this season being three-set affairs.
ALABAMA SERIES NOTES
Since Auburn revived volleyball in 1986, the series between the two bitter rivals is even at 22 wins apiece. While Alabama dominated the series since 2000, taking 18 of 19 decisions from 2000-09, the Tigers have won the last three meetings, including a thrilling, come-from-behind win in Tuscaloosa late last season.
LAST TIME vs. ALABAMA - NOV. 19, 2010
Auburn entered the third set down two, but came back to take the final three sets and pull off the come-from-behind, 3-2 (21-25, 26-28, 25-19, 25-19, 16-14), win over in-state rival Alabama at the CAVE.
Senior Morgan Johns put together the best performance of her career as she finished with 24 kills and hit a scorching .488 for the Tigers. Sophomore Sarah Bullock tallied 16 kills and nine digs, while senior libero Liz Crouch had a match-best 17 digs. Junior setter Christina Solverson had a career-best 38 assists, while finishing with nine digs. Freshman Camila Jersonsky had seven kills on the night and Jonelle Wallace and Kelly Fidero finished with five and four kills, respectively.
SCOUTING OLE MISS
The Ole Miss Rebels (5-5, 1-1 SEC) hit the road for the first time in conference play after splitting a pair of 3-2 matches last week against Arkansas and LSU. The Rebels fell to LSU Friday night before outlasting Arkansas on Sunday. Ole Miss is coming off its third NCAA Tournament appearance in the last five years. Ole Miss is hitting .178 as a team, averaging 11.8 kills/set, but the Rebels have been strong at the net with 95 blocks on the year (2.4/set).
Allegra Wells leads the Rebel offense with 109 kills (2.79/set), while Regina Thomas has the team's top hitting percentage at .364. Amanda Philpot averages 8.13 assists/set as the team's primary setter, and Thomas and Wells have combined for 80 blocks on the year.
OLE MISS SERIES NOTES
Ole Miss holds a 23-20 advantage in the all-time series that dates to 1987. The Tigers dominated the series prior to 2000, winning 16 of 22 matches from 1987-99. But Ole Miss has controlled the recent history, taking 17 of the last 21. The Rebels won both matches during the 2010 season.
LAST TIME vs. OLE MISS - NOV. 14, 2010
Auburn came back from being down two sets to force Ole Miss to a fifth set, but the Rebels outlasted the Tigers to take the 3-2 (25-17, 25-17, 13-25, 18-25, 15-13) win at the Student Activities Center. Morgan Johns led all attackers as she finished with career-best 17 kills and a .389 attack percentage. Sophomore Sarah Bullock tallied her ninth double-double of the season, finishing with 16 kills and 10 digs. Junior setter Christina Solverson recorded her second double- double of the year, having 29 assists and 12 digs. Liz Crouch recorded a season-best and match-best 27 digs to lead the Tiger defense. Freshman Chelsea Wintzinger added 19 assists and eight digs, while Mellor and Bullock each had three blocks. Junior Kelly Fidero contributed with seven kills, while freshman Camila Jersonsky had six.
NO PLACE LIKE HOME
After a nine-match road trip that spanned the first three weeks of September, the Tigers finally return home this week. A total of 11 of Auburn's first 12 matches have been on the road; the home opener against Alabama A&M on Aug. 30 being the only match within 300 miles of home so far.
The team logged more than 3,500 miles of travel over the first four weeks of the season (round-trip mileage to Gainesville, Fla., Murfreesboro, Tenn, Coral Gables, Fla., and Lexington, Ky.). Auburn is the only SEC team to have not played at least three home matches thus far.
NO PLACE LIKE HOME, PART 2
Auburn will play its first home match outside the Student Activities Center since 2007 when it plays host to the No. 6 Florida Gators at the new Auburn Arena on Sept. 30. It will be the first volleyball match inside the new facility.
TOUGH SCHEDULE TO START
In their first 12 matches of the season, the Tigers have faced nine teams that advanced to the NCAA Tournament in 2010, winning three of those contests. All six of Auburn's losses have been to teams that were either ranked or receiving votes in the Top 25 at the time or are currently ranked nationally. The six opponents that have defeated the Tigers thus far - North Carolina, Missouri, Miami, Oklahoma, Kentucky and Tennessee - have a combined record of 64-14 (.821) so far in the 2011 season.
A LOOK AHEAD
Auburn will play the first volleyball match at the new Auburn Arena on Friday, Sept. 30 as the No. 6-ranked Florida Gators visit for a 7 p.m. contest. The Tigers will then close out a four-match homestand with a Sunday afternoon match against South Carolina, which begins at 1:30 p.m. at the Student Activities Center.