Auburn Volleyball Preview, Florida, Georgia
Auburn (6-4, 1-1 SEC) at #5 Florida (10-2, 2-0 SEC) Friday, Oct. 1 - Gainesville, Fla.
Auburn (6-4, 1-1 SEC) at Georgia (7-4, 0-2 SEC) Sunday, Oct. 3 - Athens, Ga.
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 299-281 (.516) since the reinstatement ... Laura Farina is in her third season at the helm of the Tigers, owning an 17-49 (.258) 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 play the second half of their four-match SEC road swing this weekend, taking on #5-ranked Florida in Gainesville on Friday night before heading north to Georgia for a Sunday afternoon tilt with the Bulldogs.
The Tigers are 6-4 after splitting their conference openers. AU fell to archrival Alabama in Tuscaloosa, 3-0, but rebounded to knock off Kentucky, 3-1, in Lexington for the Tigers first SEC road win in over three seasons. Offensively, junior captain Bailey Veit is leading the team in attack percentage at a .299 clip, just ahead of freshman Whitney Jacob's .290. Defensively, Jacob is the lead blocker with 38 total blocks while Veit is next with 35. Libero Jennifer Buckert leads the Tigers in digging with 106 on the year (2.86 DPG) while Veit is next with 97 (2.62 DPG). Freshman Jordan Elliott is the leading setter with 11.29 APG.
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 playing career at Penn State.
AU Snaps SEC Losing Streak
After suffering 25 consecutive losses on the road in SEC play, the Tigers claimed a 3-1 victory over Kentucky on Sunday, Sept. 26 in Lexington. The last AU road conference win was on Nov. 5, 2000 at LSU.
AU in the SEC
Auburn has been a volleyball member of the SEC since 1987. Over the course of those 17 years, AU has gone 88-135 (.394) with just five seasons of better than .500 volleyball ('92, '96, '97, '98, '99). Since the 2000 season, AU is just 5-59 (.078).
AU and Florida
Auburn and Florida have faced off 25 times, and 24 of them have resulted in Florida victories. The lone AU win was in a 1990 home match for the Tigers, when AU won a 3-1 battle with the Gators. When the match is played in Gainesville, the Tigers are a combined 0-8. The last time the Tigers took a game from UF was in 1999 and the last time AU scored a game victory on the Gators' home court was in 1993, which is the only game victory AU has claimed at the O'Connell Center.
Entering the Record Books
With one full season under her belt, Ashlee Johns has inched her way towards the Auburn record books. After 33 matches as an Auburn Tiger, Johns hascracked the career attack percentage list, checking in at ninth with a .235 mark (463-193-1149). The last Tiger to enter the top-10 was Grace Boyd, who collected a .239 attack percentage (380-136-1021) over her two-year stay on the Plains in 2001 and 2002.
Veit at the Net
Junior Captain Bailey Veit has found her way into the Auburn career record books. In the match against UAB, Veit's block in the fourth game on a Shaniquwa Cooper attack gave her 38 solo blocks for her career, moving her into 10th-place on the AU list. She has since tied Allyson Beecroft and Gretchen Thompson for eighth on the liats at 39. At her current pace of .8 solo blocks per match, she would end up with 21 blocks on the year, giving her 52 for her career, which would place her sixth. Veit's 0.95 BPG average is also in the books, ranking fifth, just behind Gina Thomas (0.98) and Tory Gutierrez (1.03). Veit is also just 59 digs shy of reaching 500 for her career. Her current mark of 2.15 DPG would rank her ninth on the Digs Per Game chart.
Over the course of the first 10 matches, freshman Whitney Jacob has had five matches where she has committed two or fewer errors. In those five matches (East Tennessee State, Mercer, Oregon State, UAB & Kentucky ), Jacob is hitting at a .457 clip (57-9-105) with a 2.85 KPG mark. Auburn is 4-1 in those matches.
All Auburn, All Orange, All Win
The Tigers have worn their orange tops in two matches this season, and both have been wins. The Tigers debuted their orange digs at Mercer and won 3-2 and then donned the jerseys again at Kentucky, a 3-1 AU triumph. The All Auburn, All Orange campaign is being used by all Auburn athletic teams this season. At the Auburn-LSU football game, the crowd of 87,451 was mostly decked out in orange to see the Tigers win 10-9. The AU soccer team will have their All Auburn, All Orange night on Oct. 22 against Tennessee while the volleyball crowd's turn will come on Nov. 5 against Mississippi State.
Jekyl and Hyde
The Tigers played a little Jekyl and Hyde volleyball in their match with UAB. In the three games that the Tigers won, they hit a collective .321 (39-13-81) while in the two games they lost, they hit .088 (23-17-88). For the season, when the Tigers are victorious in the match, they are knocking balls down at a .275 clip (360-128-845) while in matches they lose, they attack at a .149 mark (175-105-471).
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. Veit followed that up by being named to the Salbasgeon Suites Invitational All-Tournament team the following weekend. That gives Veit three all-tournament selections all-time.
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, which she matched in the win over Kentucky, while also serving up an ace. The 19 digs was more than she had total as both a freshman and a sophomore. For the year, Buckert is averaging 2.86 DPG with 106 digs.
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 averaged 12.55 APG for the weekend. She followed that up by posting a career-best 76 assists in a five-game match with Mercer. In the matches that Elliott has started in the setting position, she averaged 12.34 APG.
With 10 matches under their belts, the Tigers had already served up 63 aces, an average of 1.70 per game. Jordan Elliott has already served up 13 to lead the team with just seven service errors. During the match with UAB, five of the six servers (Jelena Sekulia, Rachel Shanks, Jordan Elliott, Bailey Veit, Ashlee Johns) recorded two aces while the sixth, Jennifer Buckert, recorded one for a total of 11.