AUBURN, Ala. (EETV) - The Auburn Tigers have been on a hot streak, winning 11 consecutive games. Auburn looked to extend its winning streak to 13-0. After losing to Florida, Alabama came hungry for their own win. However, during both matches this weekend, the Tigers subdued their rival.
On Saturday evening, the Auburn Tigers (26-28, 25-22, 25-15, 25-15) beat the Alabama Crimson Tide 3-1.
“I thought we came out with some nerves, which wasn’t really surprising. With so many young players and it being their first SEC match on the road against our rival Alabama, I knew there would be nerves,” Head Coach Brent Crouch comments, “They have a really good spin server, but the reason we were down a bit early was how nervous we were. We settled down well, though, and had a chance to win that first set.”
Although Auburn’s offense got off to a slow start, the Tigers’ young stars were able to get the job done.
Auburn had 55 kills accompanied by only 16 errors, while Alabama had 48 kills with 30 errors. Freshman pin hitter Madison Scheer led the team with 19 kills. Following close behind, freshman pin hitter Akasha Anderson collected 16 kills along with fellow freshman pin hitter Bel Zimmerman (9) and freshman middle blocker Kendal Kemp (8).
Auburn’s defense came out aggressive. The Tigers had 16.5 blocks compared to the Tide’s seven. Leading Auburn’s defense, junior middle blocker Chelsey Harmon racked up seven blocks as Anderson, Scheer, and Kemp followed with six.
Freshman Liberos Zoe Slaughter and Sarah Morton were stars on the back row. Slaughter collected 22 digs, a career-high for the young freshman, as Morton trailed behind with 19.
On Sunday, the Tide once again succumbed to the Tigers’ pressure, losing the match 3-1 (16-25, 25-16, 25-14, 25-14).
Although the Tigers had difficulty generating plays, Auburn’s young talent continues to showcase their offensive and defensive abilities.
“We certainly knew we had talent, but they are learning how to play together, learning how to communicate on the court, and learning how to connect,” Coach Crouch stated, “They have clearly connected in a really good way. They’ve learned how to be coached by me, and now it’s a little more collaborative.”
On offense, Madison Scheer once again led the Tigers with 20 kills. Following Scheer’s lead, Anderson (12) and Zimmerman (8) collectively completed 20 kills. Auburn had a great evening at the serving line, racking 10 aces compared to Alabama’s seven. The Tigers ended the game with a .278 hitting percentage, while the Crimson Tide managed a .133.
Defensively, Anderson and Morton had a phenomenal evening on the back line. Morton led the team with 20 digs as Anderson trailed behind with 18. Anderson’s 18 digs were a career-high for the young pin hitter. Following the back lines’ pace, Kemp led the Tigers with four blocks while Harmon and Scheer collected three blocks each.
“We’re going to need the Auburn Family big time against Mississippi State. They’re a very good team, second in the SEC last year, and it’s pretty much the same team that went to the NCAA’s,” Crouch concluded, “It’s going to be a fun battle and see where we are.”
The Auburn Tigers will face the Mississippi State Bulldogs at Neville Arena at 7 p.m. CT this Wednesday, September 28.