Nov. 20, 2008
AUBURN - The Auburn volleyball team (6-23, 1-17 SEC) wraps up its 2008 season at home this weekend as the Tigers prepare to face 19th-ranked Kentucky (25-4, 16-2 SEC) and Tennessee (20-9, 13-5 SEC). Auburn will also recognize senior Jessica Glover prior to Friday night's game as part of Senior Day ceremonies.
The Tigers are coming off a pair of close matches last weekend, falling 3-1 (12-25, 25-23, 25-14, 25-22) to Georgia and 3-2 (23-25, 25-16, 18-25, 25-18, 15-6) at SEC West leader LSU. Kentucky enters the weekend having one of its best seasons in a long time, currently holding a half-match lead in the SEC title race over Florida after defeating the Gators, 3-2, last weekend. The Wildcats also picked up a 3-0 win over South Carolina last weekend, their 10th win in the last 11 matches.
"Kentucky is a top-20 team, so the match will be a task for us to play with them," said Auburn head coach Wade Benson. "When we played them in Lexington we played them very close and I thought we played a great match. We have improved as a team and we hope to show that in our next match."
Benson knows the Wildcats will coming into the Student Activities Center ready to play as UK looks to un-seat Florida as SEC Champion.
"Kentucky is coming off a great win versus Florida, so if they beat us they will probably win the SEC conference, which is a big deal," said Benson. "They would be the first team to beat Florida in a while and it is a pretty impressive scenario for them, so they are going to come in with guns-a-blazing."
UK picked up the 3-0 sweep when the teams met earlier this season in Lexington, Ky., but Auburn was able to challenge in two of the three sets. The Wildcats squeaked out a 26-24 win in the first set before cruising to a 25-18 win in the second. UK had to go the distance in the final set, earning a 28-26 win for the sweep over the Tigers.
Tennessee also enters the weekend as one of the hottest teams in the conference, winning 10 of its last 11 matches. The only loss in that stretch came in a 3-0 sweep last weekend against Florida. The Lady Vols also took on South Carolina last weekend, pulling out the 3-2 win.
"Tennessee is another NCAA Tournament-bound team, so it gives us a nice barometer to end our season and where we can start our spring season," said Benson. "We want to finish off our season with a bang and knocking off a NCAA team would be a great finish."
The Lady Vols earned the sweep over Auburn when the teams met earlier this season in Knoxville, Tenn. Tennessee dominated in the first set, winning 25-15, but the Tigers rebounded to make the Lady Vols earn the final sets, losing 23-25 and 26-28.
Prior to Friday's match against Kentucky, the Auburn volleyball team will take some time to honor Glover, the team's lone senior. Glover picked up the 1,000th kill of her career earlier this season and is currently ranked in the top-10 all-time at Auburn in kills, attacks, kills per set and digs per set.
"I have really been impressed with Jess this year," said Benson. "In my opinion, she is close to being the MVP in the conference, pretty hard to say with the team's record, but she has definitely done as much or more as far as carrying a load as anyone else in the conference has.
"It has been a pleasure coaching her and I think she has really stepped up in the leadership role this year."
Action in the weekend series begins at 6 p.m., Friday against No. 19 Kentucky in the Student Activities Center. The weekend and season will conclude with a 1:30 p.m., Sunday match against Tennessee. Admission is free to both matches.
Fans that cannot make it out to the matches can follow all the action live with GameTracker at www.AuburnTigers.com.