Auburn Volleyball Preview - Mississippi State and Ole Miss Games
Mississippi State (13-13, 4-8 SEC) at Auburn (8-12, 3-9 SEC)
Friday, Nov. 5 - Auburn, Ala. - 7 p.m.
Ole Miss (10-14, 2-10 SEC) at Auburn
Sunday, Nov. 7 - Auburn, Ala. - 1:30 p.m.
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 301-289 (.510) since the reinstatement ... Laura Farina is in her third season at the helm of the Tigers, owning an 19-57 (.250) record ... Auburn has already surpassed its SEC win total of the last three years combined and equaled its win total from 2000 ... AU has won three SEC road matches for the first time since 1999 ... 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 first half of their final home stand this weekend, beginning with a Friday night tilt with Mississippi State at 7 p.m. before playing host to Ole Miss on Sunday at 1:30 p.m. The first 250 fans on Sunday will receive Auburn volleyball golf balls.
All Auburn, All Orange, All Win
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 had their All Auburn, All Orange night on Oct. 22 against Tennessee and were victorious, 2-1, over the #8-ranked Lady Voles.
The volleyball crowd's turn comes this Friday night when the Tigers welcome Mississippi State to the Student Activities Center.
"All Auburn, All Orange" is a program established to create unity and spirit among the Auburn student body, alumni, fans and student-athletes at sporting events.
One home game during each sport season will be designated as the "All Auburn, All Orange" event. At each designated event, fans are encouraged to wear orange.
A specially designed "All Auburn, All Orange" t-shirt is now available at Auburn area retail outlets, as well as on-line at http://www.auburnonlinemall.com.
Five percent of the revenue from each shirt sold will benefit Tiger Habitat, the Habitat for Humanity program at Auburn University.
Tigers on Radio
Ben Taylor will provide all the action over the airways as all the Auburn volleyball home and away matches will be carried live on radio for the remainder of the season. Friday's tilt with Mississippi State and Sunday's match with Ole Miss will both be carried live on WANI 1400 in the Auburn-Opelika area as well as through the Auburn website, www.auburntigers.com.
Auburn dropped a pair of SEC road matches this past weekend to fall into ninth-place in the 11-team SEC, a game behind both Mississippi State and South Carolina in the race to make the SEC Tournament.
Junior captain Bailey Veit continues to excel in her switch from starting middle blocker to libero. Since the switch prior to the match at Ole Miss, Veit is averaging a team-best 3.21 DPG with 45 digs.
Offensively the Tigers continue to rely on the arm of senior Ashlee Johns. Through the first 20 matches, Johns has recorded 270 kills for a 3.70 KPG mark and a .224 hitting percentage.
Scouting the Lady Bulldogs
Mississippi State enters the stretch run of the 2004 campaign this weekend with a pair of divisional battles in neighboring Alabama. The Volleyball Bulldogs trek to Auburn Friday and then venture on to Alabama Sunday.
MSU notched its fourth league win of the year and stayed in the SEC Tournament chase with a 3-2 Friday night home win over Georgia. Junior Rachel Cooper had 19 kills against Georgia and climbed to No. 8 among MSUﾹs career kills leaders. She enters the week with 351 kills, third-most in the SEC, and 967 career kills in three seasons. Freshman libero Megan Lukasek totaled 25 kills last weekend, raising her team-leading rookie season total to 300, fourth-most in the SEC.
AU and Mississippi State
Auburn has dominated the series with Mississippi State, owning a 22-9 record against the Lady Bulldogs, which includes AU's 3-0 victory in Starkville two weeks ago.
The Tigers have claimed a total of 11 wins against just three losses when the Lady Bulldogs come to the Plains.
Auburn's only SEC win of the 2003 campaign came at home against State.
Auburn's 22 wins in the series is the most victories for AU against any opponent.
Scouting Ole Miss
Ole Miss' Elena Garcia averaged double digit kills this past weekend, coming up with 10 kills against No. 8 Florida and 16 kills against Georgia on Sunday. The senior led the Lady Rebels in both losses.
The Lady Rebels will return to the road this week, playing at Alabama and Auburn. Ole Miss dropped both matches with the Alabama teams earlier this season, falling to Auburn 3-2 and Alabama 3-0. The loss marked the first to Auburn since the 1999 season.
AU and the Lady Rebels
Auburn and Ole Miss have squared off a total of 21 times on the court since 1986, and the Tigers hold a slight 17-14 advantage, which includes AU's thrilling come-from-behind 3-2 victory in Oxford earlier this season.
When the match is contested on the Plains, Auburn is 7-6, though their last home win came in 1999.
AU and MSU Since Farina Arrived
Auburn and Mississippi State have seen each other a total of four times since Laura Farina arrived as the head coach of the Tigers, and the schools have split the series with AU winning the last two.
Both teams have swept in Starkville once (MSU in 2002, AU in 2004) and both have won five-game matches at home (AU in 2003 and MSU in 2003).
Prior to AU's win in Auburn last season, MSU had won four straight.
Down the Stretch
Auburn's final four matches are possibly the four most important matches since Laura Farina became the head coach of the Tigers in 2002. It all starts with Friday's match against Mississippi State, considered by the staff to be the single most important match since they arrived. The last time the Tigers had a match this important to their tournament lives this late in the season came in 2000, when again the Tigers face Ole Miss and Mississippi State for two of their final four matches.
Sweeping the Magnolia State
Auburn is in need of a strong finale to the SEC season in order to make the SEC Tournament (only the top eight teams make it). The Tigers got off on the right foot with a sweep of Ole Miss and Mississippi State two weekends ago, downing the Lady Rebels, 3-2, with a come-from-behind victory, and defeating the Bulldogs, 3-0, before dropping two 3-0 decisions to LSU and Arkansas last weekend.
Now the Tigers are in need of a home sweep of the Mississippi's to keep their tournament hopes alive. The last time AU swept the two schools from Mississippi at home was in 1999, also the last time AU made the conference tournament.
In total, AU has had a home sweep of the two Mississippi schools a total of seven times (1991, 1993, 1994, 1996, 1997, 1998 and 1999)
The Tigers have swept their trip through the state of Mississippi six times since 1986 (1988, 1992, 1993, 1997, 1998, 2004).
AU's sweep in the Magnolia State has brought an SEC Tournament bid with it the previous five times while an AU sweep at home has also brought a tournament berth along with it.
The Tigers have had a four-match sweep of the Mississippi's just three times. (1993, 1997, 1998).
Veit Named SEC DPOW
Auburn's Bailey Veit was named the SEC's Defensive Player of the Week for the week ending Oct. 25. Veit, who had been the starting middle blocker for the Tigers up until the Ole Miss match, played as the libero in both the Ole Miss and Mississippi State away matches and made a very smooth transition. In the match at Ole Miss she collected a career-best-tying 20 digs as the Tigers rallied from a 2-0 deficit to win 3-2. Against Mississippi State she went for a team-best 11 digs, giving her 31 in eight games for a 3.88 digs per game mark.
Junior captain Bailey Veit entered the Auburn record books during the second game of the Ole Miss match as she dug her 500th ball. With the dig, she earned her way onto the career digs per game charts where she sits eighth with a 2.22 mark.
Two for the Books
Sophomore Julie Bosler is just two blocks shy of making her first appearance in the Auburn record books. With two blocks this weekend, Bosler will reach the 100-career-block mark. At her current pace of 98 total blocks in 104 games, she would sit fifth with a 0.94 BPG mark.
Six in a Row
Auburn rallied from a 2-0 deficit to defeat Ole Miss, 3-2, before handing Mississippi State a 3-0 defeat, running the Tigers streak of consecutive SEC game wins to six. The last time AU had won six straight SEC games was in 1998 when the Tigers ran off 10 straight SEC games wins (game 1 on Oct. 25 vs. Tennessee through game 1 on Nov. 5 at Alabama). AU's game one loss at LSU ended the streak at six.
AU Against the West
Auburn holds an all-time record of 69-79 (.466) against teams from the SEC West. The Tigers own winning records against Alabama (18-13), Ole Miss (17-14) and Mississippi State (22-9).
Staying in the Race
With four matches left in their SEC season, the Tigers are still fighting for their first SEC Tournament berth since 1999, when AU lost to Tennessee, 3-1, in the first round.
The Tigers currently sit ninth in the race, a game behind both Mississippi State and South Carolina. Heading into the weekend, AU holds the tiebreaker with the Bulldogs while the Gamecocks hold the edge on the Tigers.
The Tigers are 4-14 in the SEC Tournament since the reinstatement in 1986, and their current four-year drought of making the tournament is the longest in the program history.
Auburn found itself down to game and match point in the third game of the match at Ole Miss on Friday, Oct. 22, only to rally and win in five games. The last time Auburn rallied from a 2-0 deficit to win was on Sept. 4, 1999, against George Mason when the Tigers fell behind after game scores of 12-15 and 8-15 only to rally and win games three, four and five by scores of 15-7, 15-11, 15-8.
The last time AU accomplished such a big comeback in SEC play was on Nov. 16, 1997, when AU won at Mississippi State (9-15, 3-15, 17-15, 15-8, 15-13).
Auburn has only rallied to win after losing the first two games of SEC play a total of five times. The other three times were on Oct. 26, 1997 against Ole Miss, Nov. 1, 1996 at Arkansas and Oct. 20, 1991 at South Carolina, making it four of the five times on the road.
Johns Goes Big
Ashlee Johns recorded one of the biggest nights in Auburn volleyball history in the Tigers' match with Arkansas. Against the Lady'Backs, Johns pounded out a career-high 30 kills, which was just three shy of tying the Auburn record of 33 set by Brooke McCarley against Kentucky on Nov. 5, 1997.
There was a very welcome site on the Auburn practice court on Wednesday, Oct. 13, as there was not one walking boot to be seen attached to an athlete's leg. Over the first half of the season, Julie Bosler (16 matches), Rachel Shanks (9 matches) and Jennifer Amobi (3 matches) have all spent time in a walking cast. However, it looks like the healing process is going along well as all three saw action in the match at LSU, marking the first time all season the Tigers had all 10 players on the roster available.
Searching for the First Home SEC Win
The Tigers are still in search of their first home SEC win of the season.
The last SEC home win for Auburn came on Oct. 26, 2003, when AU knocked off Mississippi State, 3-2 (30-15, 23-30, 30-26, 26-30, 15-10).
Three On the Road
After suffering 25 consecutive losses on the road in SEC play, the Tigers have already racked up three conference wins this season. The last time AU had won three away from the Student Act in SEC play was in 1999 when the Tigers also captured three.
The record for most away SEC wins is six in 1996.
Another Case of the Sunday's
The Auburn volleyball team has not found much success in Sunday matches over the past two-plus years. In two-plus seasons, AU has won just three Sunday matches - on Oct. 26, 2003 at home vs. Mississippi State (3-2), on Sept. 26, 2004 at Kentucky (3-1) and on Oct. 24, 2004 again at Mississippi State (3-0) - against 17 losses for a .150 winning percentage.
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 90-143 (.386) with just five seasons of better than .500 volleyball ('92, '96, '97, '98, '99).
Since the 2000 season, AU is just 7-67 (.095).
Entering the Record Books
With one full season under her belt, Ashlee Johns has inched her way towards the Auburn record books. After 43 matches as an Auburn Tiger, Johns has cracked the career attack percentage list, checking in at ninth with a .227 mark (598-256-1505).
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. Johns is also in the books in the Career Kills Per Game category, checking in at fourth with a 3.81 mark (598 K, 157 GP)
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 past Allyson Beecroft and Gretchen Thompson for eighth on the list at 42.
Veit's 0.89 BPG average is also in the books, ranking sixth, just behind Heather Franey (0.90) and ahead of La'Toi Finley (0.88).
Before Veit had moved to the libero position, she had posted a career 0.95 BPG mark.
Over the course of the first 10 matches, freshman Whitney Jacob had five matches where she committed two or fewer errors. In those five matches (East Tennessee State, Mercer, Oregon State, UAB & Kentucky ), Jacob hit at a .457 clip (57-9-105) with a 2.85 KPG mark. Auburn was 4-1 in those matches.
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.
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 game, they are knocking balls down at a .270 clip (468-166-1120) while in games they lose, they attack at a .179 mark (556-296-1456).
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 season-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 really responded to her role as the libero while the Tigers worked their way through injuries. 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. Buckert was averaging 2.63 DPG with 155 digs while playing the libero but has since dropped to a 2.44 mark since playing the role of defensive specialist/rightside.
Freshman Jordan Elliott was quick to grasp her role as team leader and setter during the Mizuno/Auburn Challenge. 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.
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.
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.