Nov. 20, 2012
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AUBURN - The Auburn volleyball team will wrap up the 2012 regular season this week as two of the top teams in the Southeastern Conference visit the Student Activities Center on Wednesday and Friday.
The Tigers (17-11, 8-10 SEC) will play host to SEC Champion and 15th-ranked Florida at 7 p.m. Wednesday night, then close out the regular season on Senior Day against Kentucky at 3 p.m. Friday. Admission is free to both matches.
Wednesday will be the Tigers' annual Thanksgiving Food Drive. Fans bringing a non-perishable food item will receive their choice of a 2012 Auburn volleyball promotional item. Friday's match will be Senior Day as Auburn's four seniors - Sarah Bullock, MacKenzy Harper, Brittney Rhude and Chloe Rowand - will be honored in pre-match ceremonies.
Live stats and video will be available via AuburnTigers.com, and fans can follow @AUVolleyball on Twitter for the latest updates.
Auburn is coming off a pair of tough road losses last week at Tennessee (3-2) and Alabama (3-1). However, the Tigers are 8-3 at home this season and 5-3 in conference matches at the Student Act. A pair of wins this week, in addition to being historically significant, would put the Tigers back in the conversation for postseason play.
"Obviously, we've had opportunities throughout the season," Head Coach Rick Nold said. "We didn't always capitalize on those. You've got two top-25 RPI teams this week, and getting wins against those teams would open a lot of eyes and gives us some opportunities. But it's the same thing (as it was) with Tennessee (last week). We've got to put together a complete game, because if we don't, they're a good enough team to take advantage.
"The important part is that we have to play our game. At the end of the day, if we go out and give great effort, work on the things we need to work on, and execute our game plan, then we should walk away and be happy. At the same time, if we do those things, we should walk away happy because we got a win."
AUBURN QUICK HITS
Auburn has an all-time record of 556-558-4 (.499) in its 41st season of volleyball.
Head Coach Rick Nold picked up his 200th win as a Division I head coach on Nov. 4 vs. Georgia. He has a 28-30 (.483) record in his second season at Auburn; he is 200-128 (.609) in his 11th season overall.
Senior Sarah Bullock ranks sixth all-time at Auburn in kills (1,249), fourth in digs (1,194) and eighth in solo blocks (53).
Junior Camila Jersonsky is Auburn's all-time leader in career hitting percentage (.361), having met the minimum 1,000 attacks last month. Jersonsky also ranks 10th all-time in total blocks (253).
Junior Sarah Wroblicky has the fourth-highest single-season dig total in school history (416); she is 53 digs shy of the school record with two regular-season matches left.
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, and 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 GATORS
Florida enters the week 23-4 overall, 17-1 in SEC play. The Gators have clinched the 2012 SEC Championship and are ranked No. 15 in the latest AVCA Coaches' Poll.
The Gators have won four in a row heading into the weekend and clinched the 2012 SEC title with a three-set win over South Carolina on Sunday. Florida was picked to finish third in the SEC East.
Florida leads the SEC in hitting percentage (.307) and aces (1.41/set) and ranks second in opponent hit percentage (.172) and kills (14.45/set).
Chloe Mann (.431) and Tangerine Wiggs (.389) are the top two hitters in the SEC, and Betsy Smith (.345) ranks seventh.
Freshman Ziva Recek is fourth in the SEC in kills (4.04/set) while Mann is eighth (3.66/set).
Florida has won 36 consecutive matches against Auburn, dating back to the 1990 season. The Gators are 40-2 all-time against the Tigers.
COACH NOLD ON THE GATORS
"They've won the league, and they beat us pretty good down at their place. They're very, very athletic and really took it to us in the middle the first time we played them. A big part of that was that we gave them a lot of easy opportunities - free balls, not serving very tough. They've got a lot of guns and play great defense. For us, it's a matter of having to be very aggressive, both serving and offensively, to keep them out of system as much as possible. When we do that, it gives us opportunities to be scrappy and get our middles involved."
LAST TIME: FLORIDA 3, AUBURN 0 (10/14/12)
Auburn hit double-digits in blocks for the ninth time this season, but a strong attack by 11th-ranked Florida was too much to overcome in a 3-0 (19-25, 19-25, 15-25) loss before 1,708 fans at the Stephen C. O'Connell Center. The best-hitting team in the SEC all season, Florida finished with 46 kills against just 15 errors for a .316 hitting percentage while Auburn, despite good numbers in the first two sets, finished at .176. Both teams had 10 blocks in the match, but Florida had 45 digs to Auburn's 32 and also controlled the service game. Part of the Tigers' undoing was trouble in the service game as Auburn committed six service errors - five in the second set alone - and allowed four Florida aces.
Halle Kearney led the Auburn offense with eight kills and just one error on 13 swings for a .538 hitting percentage; she also had one block. Sarah Bullock finished with seven kills, moving up to eighth all-time at Auburn now with 1,108 for her career. Chloe Rowand and Courtney McDonald had six kills apiece, and Culwell finished with five. Defensively, Camila Jersonsky led Auburn with five blocks (one solo, four assist), while Culwell and Rowand were in on four apiece.
SCOUTING THE WILDCATS
Kentucky enters the week at 18-10 overall, 12-6 in SEC play. The Wildcats are in third place in the SEC East and are receiving votes in the AVCA Coaches' Poll.
The Wildcats won their only match last weekend, defeating Georgia at home in four sets. Kentucky had lost its previous two matches on the road at Alabama and at Arkansas.
Kentucky is 4-4 on the road in SEC play this season. The Cats play at Missouri on Wednesday before traveling to Auburn.
Kentucky ranks third in the SEC in blocking (2.55 blocks/set) and second in service aces (1.36/set). UK is also fifth in hitting percentage (.250), opponent hitting (.185) and kills (13.66/set).
Alexandra Morgan (.347) ranks sixth in the SEC in hitting percentage and ninth in blocks (1.02/set).
Ashley Frazier and Whitney Billings are the top two offensive weapons for Kentucky, both averaging 2.96 kills/set.
Kentucky is 31-10 all-time against Auburn, and the Wildcats have won the last four matches. Auburn's last win, a 3-2 home triumph in 2010, was the Tigers' first win over a nationally ranked opponent.
COACH NOLD ON THE WILDCATS
"Big match for us. At their place, we went four (sets). We played pretty scrappy after about midway through the second game; started off a little slow. They're a very good team, very balanced offensively with great defenders. Again, for us, we keep talking about the things we need to do. We need to get them out of system. But as much as anything this weekend, it's going to be controlling the ball, passing well, giving our hitters opportunities. We've got to be able to run through the middle. When they play well, it makes it a lot easier for us. And Friday being Senior Day, saying goodbye to those four who have meant a lot to the program, hopefully that will give us some extra energy and give us a boost."
LAST TIME: KENTUCKY 3, AUBURN 1 (9/30/12)
Auburn gave Kentucky a tough fight on the road but dropped a four-set decision to the Wildcats 3-1 (23-25, 25-22, 19-25, 17-25) at Memorial Coliseum. The Tigers gave the Wildcats all they could handle through two and a half sets, but a late Kentucky run in the third set gave the Wildcats momentum that the Tigers could not overcome.
Sarah Bullock led Auburn with 12 kills, giving her 1,080 for her career and moving her into the all-time top 10 at Auburn. Bullock also had eight digs and two blocks in the match. Sarah Wroblicky was strong defensively with 22 digs, her fourth match this season with 20 or more.Both Auburn setters recorded double-doubles. Chelsea Wintzinger had 19 assists and 14 digs, and Ciara Richards finished with 16 assists and 12 digs. The Wildcats had 60 kills to Auburn's 41 and held Auburn to a season-low .108 hitting percentage. Kentucky also finished with 15 total blocks against Auburn's 10, and the Cats won the digs battle, 76-72.