Nov. 15, 2012
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AUBURN - Auburn will embark on its final regular-season road trip of the 2012 volleyball season this weekend as they will face Tennessee in Knoxville, Tenn., on Friday, before heading to Tuscaloosa for a showdown with archrival Alabama on Sunday.
Friday's match is set for a 6 p.m. CT first serve at Thompson-Boling Arena. Sunday's match will begin at 1 p.m. at Foster Auditorium with CSS providing a regional broadcast. Melissa Lee and Angelica Partridge will call the action.
Live audio and live stats will be available via AuburnTigers.com for both matches, and UTSports.com will provide a live video broadcast of Friday's match at Tennessee. Fans can also follow @AUVolleyball on Twitter for updates throughout the weekend.
Auburn (17-9, 8-8 SEC) enters the weekend with just four matches left to try and build a convincing case for the NCAA Tournament. The Tigers are No. 49 in the latest NCAA RPI and remain squarely on the bubble for postseason consideration. Three of Auburn's four remaining matches come against teams currently in the top 25 of the NCAA RPI.
"We talked with our players about it, and every match is critical," Auburn head coach Rick Nold said. "Everyone we go up against, there's something that be gained or lost by it, so it's really no different than any other time. We've got to go out and work on the next opponent."
The Tigers have seen every team in the Southeastern Conference so far except Tennessee. And the Lady Vols are catching fire at the right time, having won five straight matches and 10 out of their last 11.
"Tennessee is a team we haven't seen yet," Nold said. "It's a little unusual, getting to this point in the year and having not seen them. In the last few weeks, we've seen some people before, and in terms of game planning, the kids kind of knew what was coming at them. But we're going to have to go out every match and give it everything we've got. If we do that, we know we've got a chance to win."
Meanwhile, Alabama has won two straight after dropping their prior six matches, including an upset win over Kentucky last Friday in Tuscaloosa. The Crimson Tide will play South Carolina on Friday before hosting Auburn Sunday.
AUBURN QUICK HITS
Auburn has an all-time record of 556-556-4 (.500) in its 41st season of volleyball.
Auburn's all-time SEC record is 136-259 (.341).
Head Coach Rick Nold picked up his 200th win as a Division I head coach on Nov. 4 vs. Georgia. He has a 28-28 (.500) record in his second season at Auburn; he is 200-126 (.613) in his 11th season overall.
Senior Sarah Bullock ranks in the all-time Auburn top 10 in career kills, digs and solo blocks.
Junior Camila Jersonsky is Auburn's all-time leader in career hitting percentage (.363), having met the minimum 1,000 attacks last month.
Auburn has won eight SEC matches for the seventh time in program history.
The Tigers are 14-2 this season when hitting .200 or better as a team.
Auburn is 14-2 this year when holding opponents below a .200 hitting percentage.
The Tigers are guaranteed a winning record for the 18th time in program history but just the third time since 2000.
Assistant coach Kris Grunwald, in the first year of his second stint at Auburn (seventh season overall), has never finished a season at Auburn (as a head coach or assistant) with a record of .500 or below.
SCOUTING THE LADY VOLS
Tennessee enters the weekend at 19-6 overall, 12-4 in SEC play. The Lady Vols are receiving votes in the AVCA Top 25 poll.
The Lady Vols have won five straight matches and 10 of their last 11 entering Friday's match. Tennessee is the only SEC team to have beaten No. 16 Florida this year.
Tennessee's losses have come to Kentucky (twice), Missouri, Arkansas, BYU and Florida State.
Tennessee ranks fourth in the SEC in team hitting percentage (.252), third in kills (14.14/set), second in blocks (2.65/set) and fifth in digs (16.19/set).
Kelsey Robinson leads the UT offense with 4.39 kills/set, ranking second in the SEC. Tiffany Baker adds 3.10 kills/set to stand 15th in the league. Robinson leads the SEC with 18 double-doubles this season.
DeeDee Harrison is the league's second-best blocker with 1.19 blocks/set.
Ellen Mullins averages 4.49 digs/set, fourth-best in the SEC.
Tennessee has won the last four meetings with Auburn, and the Lady Vols are 13-2 all-time in Knoxville. Auburn's last win in Knoxville came on Oct. 28, 2007.
COACH NOLD ON TENNESSEE
"They have everybody back, plus adding someone coming off injury that was their best player before (last year). So they're a very talented team. But they've also had some stumbles along the way. It just shows you how much team chemistry and things like that really can play into it. We didn't change our team that much from last year, but we're a different team right now. And they're going through some of that, but they're playing really well right now. They beat Florida at Florida and had some good wins this past weekend. It looks like they're catching fire at the right time for them."
LAST TIME: TENNESSEE 3, AUBURN 1 (10/21/11)
Auburn won the first set from No. 20 Tennessee, but could not capitalize on an early lead as the Tigers dropped a 3-1 (25-19, 20-25, 23-25, 18-25) decision to the Lady Vols at the Student Activities Center. Kelly Fidero shared the Tiger lead along with Camila Jersonsky as each recorded nine kills. Sarah Bullock added six and Courtney McDonald had five. Jersonsky led the Tigers with a .438 attack percentage. For the first time in SEC play, no Auburn player hit double-digits in kills. Bullock led the Tigers with 10 digs, but snapped a string of five consecutive double-doubles. The junior also added two of Auburn's five service aces, as did Jersonsky. The Tigers recorded a season-high 15 blocks as a team, led by Jersonsky's six and Bullock's five. Brittney Rhude and McDonald had four blocks apiece. Chelsea Wintzinger led Auburn with 30 assists.
SCOUTING THE CRIMSON TIDE
Alabama enters the weekend at 16-12 overall, 5-11 in SEC play.
The Crimson Tide have won their last two matches, defeating Miss. State and Kentucky, but had lost six straight prior to the recent winning streak.
Alabama plays South Carolina at home Friday night before Auburn visits Sunday.
Alabama ranks eight in the SEC in hitting percentage (.236) and opponent hitting percentage (.213). Serving is a strong point for the Tide; it is fourth in the league in aces/set (1.26).
Kayla Fitterer ranks eight in the SEC in kills (3.59/set); she is second among active SEC players in career kills (1,273) entering the weekend.
Laura Steiner was named SEC Freshman of the Week last week with a career-high 20 kills in an upset win over Kentucky.
Kryssi Daniels leads the SEC in service aces with 45 this season (0.45/set).
Auburn has won six straight meetings against Alabama, dating back to the 2009 season. The Tigers have won the only previous meeting at Foster Auditorium, taking a five-set thriller in 2011.
Alabama holds a 40-30 all-time advantage in the series, with a 19-10 edge in Tuscaloosa.
COACH NOLD ON ALABAMA
"In scouting, we watch a lot of video, and it just so happens that a lot of the teams we've been watching have been playing (Alabama). So we've seen them a lot. They're a very athletic team. We've made a number of comments that we thought they would have probably won a few more games. They're a good team, but so far they just haven't pulled through at the right time. They can attack in a lot of different ways, so we'll definitely have to be ready."
LAST TIME: AUBURN 3, ALABAMA 1 (9/23/12)
Sarah Bullock recorded her 1,000th career dig, and Courtney McDonald and Chloe Rowand posted career-highs in blocks as Auburn defeated a Alabama for the sixth consecutive time, 3-1 (25-19, 23-25, 25-21, 25-18) before 1,146 fans at the Student Activities Center. The Tigers controlled every statistical category in the match, out-hitting Alabama .287 to .171, amassing 62 kills to Alabama's 47, and winning the digs battle, 69-55. The near-record crowd was witness to the Tigers' sixth straight victory over Alabama, Auburn's second-longest winning streak in the series that dates back to 1974. Auburn won 10 straight over the Tide from 1995-99.
Bullock became the fifth player in Auburn history to amass 1,000 kills and 1,000 digs in a career as she recorded 16 kills and 15 digs. Bullock also had five blocks in the match (3 assist, 2 solo). Auburn's blocking was outstanding as the Tigers stuffed 15 Alabama attempts, tying the school record for team blocks in a four-set match. The Tigers previously had 15 blocks in a four-set loss to Tennessee last season. McDonald had a career-high nine blocks, the most in a single match by an Auburn player since Camila Jersonsky had nine in Auburn's 2010 NCAA Tournament win over Missouri State. Rowand had a career-high seven. Katherine Culwell had two solo blocks, and Jersonsky was involved in two blocks as well.
A LOOK AHEAD
Auburn wraps up the 2012 regular season next week. No. 16 Florida visits the Student Act at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 21, and Friday will be Senior Day as the Tigers take on Kentucky at 3 p.m. Admission is free to both matches.