Auburn Travels To Georgia For A Wednesday Match
Courtney McDonald

Oct. 27, 2009

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AUBURN, Ala. - The Auburn volleyball team takes to the road for the first time in two weeks and heads to Athens, Ga. for a weekday match against Georgia on Wednesday. Match time set for 6 p.m. CT.

"This is a big match for both teams because both are very similar," Wade Benson, head volleyball coach, said. "We are confident it is a win we can take and it is up to us to play our best."

Auburn improved to 14-8 and 6-5 in the SEC with a pair of conference sweeps this past weekend. The Tigers opened up with a 3-0 win over in-state rival Alabama on Friday. The win marked just the second time since 1999 that the Tigers defeated the Crimson Tide. Sophomore Kelly Fidero finished with 11 kills and hit .348 overall. Junior Morgan Johns and freshman Sarah Bullock each had nine kills on the night.

Auburn picked up a 3-0 win against Mississippi State on Sunday and was led by Bullock and Johns. Bullock finished with a match-high 12 kills, while Johns had 11 and had a .429 hitting percentage. The Tigers' 14 wins are the most Auburn has recorded this decade and the team's SEC mark is the best start in conference play for the Tigers since the 1999 season.

Freshman Sarah Bullock earned her first weekly honor of her career, taking the SEC Freshman of the Week honor on Oct. 27.

"This was a long time coming for Sarah," Benson said. "She has been such a steady player for us and is really the backbone of this team. It is a well-deserved honor."

"I'm really happy and honored to get the award," Bullock said. "I played very solid this weekend and am extremely excited."

Bullock led the squad in kills against Mississippi State, having 12 kills. That mark is the tenth time this season she has recorded double-digit kills. Her overall attack percentage of .292 was third-best on the team for the weekend. Bullock's 21 total kills on the weekend gave her 199 kills on the year, the most on the team.

The Georgia volleyball squad is coming off a pair of wins over Mississippi State and Alabama. The Bulldogs topped MSU 3-0 and defeated the Crimson Tide 3-1.

Erika Clark leads Georgia with 237 total kills, averaging 3.04 kills per set. She also leads the squad with eight double-doubles and is second on the squad with 221 total digs. Valentina Gonzalez has a team-best .331 attack percentage with 192 kills on 420 attempts, while Carla Tietz has a team-high 316 total digs. Setter Kathleen Gates averages 9.96 assists per set to lead the Bulldogs.

In this week's RPI, the Auburn Tigers moved are currently ranked No. 65 in the country. After finishing the 2008 campaign at No. 232, the Tigers jumped 163 spots and were ranked No. 69 in the 2009 initial NCAA Division I Volleyball RPI poll.

"The continued progression up through the RPI is a testament to how hard our team is working," Benson said. "Things continue to move in the right direction for Auburn volleyball and we hope to keep moving up."

The Auburn volleyball team remains among the SEC's top five in a handful of categories entering the week.

The Tigers are fourth in the SEC in hitting percentage, having a .245 attack percentage with 1011 kills on 2571 attempts. The team is fifth in opponent hitting percentage, limiting their opponents to just a .189 attack percentage.

With help from team leaders Katherine Culwell and Liz Crouch, Auburn is third in service aces per set with 1.24. Culwell is eighth overall in the SEC with a 0.29 average and a team-best 22 aces, while Crouch has 18 on the year.

Auburn setters rank fourth with a 12.58 assist per set average. Leading the way is junior Sara Shanks, who is averaging 5.47 assists per set.

Other top 10 leaders in the conference is junior Alyssa Davis and Crouch. Davis is seventh overall in attack percentage, recording a .324 hitting percentage with 116 kills on 262 attacks and just 31 errors. Crouch is seventh in digs with a 4.00 dig per set average.

Auburn travels to Baton Rouge, La., for a Sunday afternoon match at LSU. Match time is set for 1 p.m. and will be broadcast by Cox Sports Television.