Volleyball Hits The Road For Matches At South Carolina And No. 12 Florida
Nov. 6, 2008
AUBURN - The Auburn volleyball team (6-19, 1-13 SEC) hits the road this weekend for matches at South Carolina (18-6, 9-5 SEC) and 12th-ranked Florida (19-2, 13-1 SEC). Action begins Friday at 6 p.m. CT as the Tigers and Gamecocks square off at USC's Volleyball Competition Facility.
The Tigers are coming off their first Southeastern Conference win of the season last weekend as Auburn swept Mississippi State, 3-0. AU followed up with a heartbreaker four-set loss to in-state rival Alabama.
For Auburn, the win over the Bulldogs represented several firsts. Not only was it the first SEC win of the season, it was the first home win of the season, the first SEC win of head coach Wade Benson's career and the first home SEC win since Auburn defeated Mississippi State on Nov. 10, 2006.
With the first win out of the way, Benson now says it is time for his team what other gains his team can make in the second half of the SEC season.
"We went 0-10 through the first half of the SEC schedule and now we get another shot at everybody," said Benson. "We have been very competitive in all four matches on the second run and it will be interesting to see what else we can do.
"This weekend is going to be tough, we are playing some very good teams and we have some injuries that we are sorting out. But, we have had a good week of practice and I'm ready to see what we can do."
Auburn opens the weekend at South Carolina, a team is lost to in four sets earlier this season in Auburn. The Tigers opened the match with a 25-11 loss, but rebounded quickly for a dominating 25-13 win to even the match. USC was able to come back and take the next two sets, 25-18, 25-17, to pull out the 3-1 win.
Benson said the keys to returning the favor to the Gamecocks and handing them a loss on their home court will be to force some errors and be stronger mentally.
"South Carolina is a low-error team, they do a very nice job with what they have over there," said Benson. "The team that can keep it together mentally and win some of the long rallies will be the one that gets the win."
Following the Friday match against USC, the Tigers head down the coast for a 12:30 p.m. CT match at Florida in the O'Connell Center. The Gators are near-perfect in the conference, losing only one match to Georgia, and are currently ranked 12th in the AVCA Coaches Poll. Auburn has never won in the O'Connell Center and the Gators have not lost a home SEC match since 2004.
"Florida always has a big crowd at their place, it is an intimidating place to play and they are very good at home," said Benson. "Just like everyone else in the league, they are tired and are beat up a little, but they are the most physical team we will face all season and it will be a very tough match."
Auburn was able to hang with the Gators through the first half of the sets in Auburn, but Florida was able to pull away each time for the 3-0 (25-19, 25-16, 25-14) win.
Fans can follow the action live from both matches by accessing GameTracker at AuburnTigers.com. Video Webcats will also be available by going to GamecocksOnline.com and GatorVision.tv.
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