Auburn Tigers Volleyball Open SEC Play
September 27, 2002 - South Carolina
September 29, 2002 - Kentucky
Complete Release in Acrobat PDF format
The Tigers enter this weekend's conference openers 1-11, 0-0 SEC ... Auburn owns a record of 283-243 (.538) since the program was reinstated in 1986 ... The Tigers are in search of their first conference victory since a 3-1 victory over LSU on Nov. 5, 2000.
Auburn on the Internet
Visit the official Auburn University athletic website at www.AuburnTigers.com. Follow the rest of the Southeastern Conference at www.SECsports.com.
Scouting the Gamecocks
South Carolina enters the match 8-3, 1-0 SEC after shutting down Kentucky last weekend in the conference opener for both. Three Gamecocks finished with double-digit kills with Sam Alban leading the way with 13 kills and no errors in 17 attempts for a .765 hitting percentage. For the year, Niece Curry leads USC with a .380 hitting percentage while Megan Hosp does most of the table setting for the hitters, averaging 12.26 assists per game. Hosp also leads USC with a 3.37 dig/game average. South Carolina leads the all-time series, 7-6, and have won the last six in the series.
Scouting the Wildcats
Kentucky (6-5, 0-1 SEC) enters the tournament trying to snap a two-game losing skid, which included the conference opening loss to South Carolina last weekend. Kristen Batt leads all hitters with 136 kills and a 3.68 k/game average. On the defensive front, Anne Koester has tallied 44 total blocks on the year to lead the Big Blue front line. The Wildcats hold a 14-5 advantage in the series and a 5-1 lead in Lexington. UK won, 3-0, in the teams only meeting last season.
Last Time Out
The Tigers finished 0-3 at the Comcast Lobo Invitational in Albuquerque, N.M., last weekend. AU fell to Temple, 0-3, SMU, 0-3, and host New Mexico, 0-3. Senior Kathia McKenzie was named to the all-tournament team, the first Tiger to claim such an honor this season.
The Tigers will stay on the road for their next two matches, heading to the Magnolia State to battle Mississippi State (10/4) and Ole Miss (10/5).
Negin Azerbehi had been on a string of big kill matches. From Sept. 6 until Sept. 14, the junior college tranfer strung together five consecutive double-digit kill matches. In three of those matches, she also corralled double figure digs. Her high-water mark for kills is 19 (vs. Marist) and her benchmark for digs is 21 (vs. Hartford). Her three double-doubles also lead the team.
Tigers in Tournaments
The Tigers played in four pre-conference tournaments, playing host to one and travelling to three others. AU went 1-11 in those contests with their lone win coming over Marist in the Hartford Fall Volleyball Invitational.
Senior captain Grace Boyd has been a consistent leader for the Tigers this season. Her .245 attack percentage leads AU while her four solo blocks (she has 27 total) is tied for the highest mark on the team.
Boyd has also been turning it up of late, collecting a 13-kill, 10-dig double-double against UNC Greensboro. In the last eight matches, she has finished with 10 or more kills in four of them.
Diaz is how we do it
Brittney Diaz has been hard at work this season, averaging 2.72 k/game, the second best mark on the team. Her 346 total attacks leads the team and has connected for double-digit kills in five matches this season.
Streaks and Peaks
Auburn snapped a five-match losing streak with its 3-1 victory over Marist on Sept. 7, to close out the Hartford Volleyball Fall Invitational. Negin Azarbehi led the Tigers with 19 kills in the win, an Auburn season high.
The 2002 season marks the beginning of a new era in Auburn volleyball as Laura Farina takes over the helm of the program. A four-year letterwinner at Illinois and a member of the 1989 AVCA/Russell All-America second team, Farina spent the last three years as the head coach at Marquette, compiling a 46-49 (.484) record. Previous to that, Farina was an assistant coach at Michigan State.
Joining Farina's staff are Matt Darling and Steve Aird. Darling was a part of Farina's staff at Marquette and played for the nationally-ranked club volleyball while an undergrad at Kentucky. Aird comes to The Plains from Penn State where he was a two-time captain for the Nittany Lions.
Grace Boyd, a senior from Huntington Beach, Calif., and Jennifer Morozov, a sophomore from Fresno, Calif., were named captains for the 2002 season, a year where their leadership will be vital to the future success of the Auburn volleyball team. Entering a year deemed for rebuilding, the captains are ready to play a pivotal role in the Tigers' 2002 season.
New in '02
Aftermany rule changes in 2001, the collegiate volleyball scene went through additional modifications this season with the addition of the libero (pronounced LEE-ber-oh) position.
The libero is a designated backrow player intended to be used as a ball-control specialist. The person must be designated at the beginning of each game and does not have to be the same person from game-to-game. The libero does not count against the team's substitutions, but the limit of 18 substitutions has been lowered to 12 this year.
Coaches Pick Gators
In a poll of the SEC's 11 head coaches, the Florida Gators have been selected to win the Southeastern Conferent title.
UF has won 11 consecutive conference crowns have have won nine of the last 10 tournament titles.