Auburn, AL: The Auburn Tigers volleyball program continues a historic start for the program, now setting a new program record with an 11-0 start to a season. This weekend they were in Jacksonville, Alabama for the JSU Invitational to take on Southern Miss on Friday and Jackson State and Jacksonville State on Saturday.
The Tigers started off their weekend with a 3-0 (25-23, 25-21, 25-21) victory over Southern Miss. Freshman Akasha Anderson gave the spark to the Tigers offense that was key to the match win. By grabbing 14 kills, Anderson led the match in kills for both sides, while also picking up two aces in the process. On the defensive side, Sarah Morton was the rock the Tigers needed on the back line. Morton had 16 digs in the game, making it the eighth time in her college career that she achieved double-digit digs in a match.
“I thought that was by far our best passing match of the season. We may have been aced a few times but for the majority of the time, we were in system and able to run the offense the way we wanted and it translates to multiple people stacking up the kills and a high-efficiency number for us,” said Auburn head coach Brent Crouch on the offensive performance the Tigers had against the Golden Eagles.
The Tigers were faced with Jackson State to start off their Saturday double header. While it was a tougher match than what the Tigers faced on Friday, Auburn took the 3-0 (25-20, 26-24, 25-16) match win to move to 10-0. Again, the offense for the Tigers were on a roll. Jackie Barrett hitting over .400 allowed the freshman trio that is Akasha Anderson, Bel Zimmerman and Madison Scheer to average a total of 33 kills among them.
After a quick turnaround, Auburn was back at it again, taking on Jacksonville State in a tightly contested match, with the Tigers coming away with the win 3-2 (25-19, 25-20, 19-25, 22-25, 15-11). The Tigers came out early and grabbed the 2-0 lead before dropping the next two sets to the Gamecocks to set up the decisive fifth set. Out of a timeout, Auburn was trailing JSU 8-7 in the race to reach 15, the Tigers were able to respond. Scoring eight out of the timeout and only giving up three points, Bel Zimmerman was able to score the winning point
“In the first two sets, we played the best we ever have offensively. We passed extremely well and were hitting over .400 with 18 and 17 kills per set. Then they started serving tough and we got a little tentative,” said Crouch after Auburn’s fast start to the match.
“We made some errors in that third set and when that happened, the crowd came alive. They were a little quiet through those first two sets but by the third, it was just packed in there with people screaming and yelling. We haven’t been in that kind of environment yet. It knocked us on our heels but to come back the way we did in the fifth set and play the way we did means the team worked through it together,” said coach Crouch after the Tigers were able to pull off the fifth-set win after dropping the third and fourth set.
The Tigers will be back in action again next weekend as they travel to Tuscaloosa to take on the Alabama Crimson Tide to start off their SEC matches.