Tigers battle in road test at No. 20 Tennessee

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Impressive blocking performances at the night, highlighted by senior Tatum Shipes sparked timely rallies, but Auburn volleyball (8-4, 0-2 SEC) fall short as #20 Tennessee (11-2, 3-0 SEC) swept Wednesday’s match at Thompson-Boling Arena in straight sets (16-25, 21-25, 14-25).

Auburn held Lady Vols, the current SEC leader blocking leaders, to just four in the match. The Tigers totaled 10 with Shipes leading the charge with six. Senior Elif Yavuz closed the night with four while junior Rebekah Rath chipped in three blocks.

Offensively, Rath led the squad as she closed the match with nine kills. Graduate student Liz Reich was Auburn’s most efficient hitter of the night as she picked eight kills of 23 swings for a .217 attacking percentage. Shipes added three kills on offense.

Sophomore Jackie Barrett recorded her seventh double-double of the season as the setter dished out 18 assists and led the team with 12 digs. Barrett also chipped in two blocks and a kill.

Rath finished the night with double-digit digs as she recorded 10. Senior Bella Rosenthall and freshman Kate Curtis were credited with six digs apiece.

With help of four kills, Tennessee opened the first stanza with a 5-1 run. Auburn’s offense came to life as the upper classmen trip of Reich, Shipes and Rath hammered home four kills cut the lead to 10-6. Auburn battled down the stretch with a pair of late kills from Reich and Ships, but the Lady Vols offense pulled away with help of a .300 team hitting percentage and 17 kills in the opening frame, winning 25-16.
Auburn jumped out early with a Rath kill and a block, but Tennessee responded with a 5-0 run to take its first lead of the set. Auburn’s play at the net kept the Tigers in the set as Auburn responded with four blocks to cut the lead to 12-13 and force a Tennessee timeout. The Tigers matched points with the Lady Vols as a Reich kill tied the set at 17-all, but eight Tennessee kills down the stretch helped the Lady Vols take the set, 25-21.
Powered by kills, the Lady Vols jumped out to a 7-0 run to open the set. Auburn battled back to cut the lead to 7-11, but Tennessee strung together an 8-0 run to extend its lead to 19-7. The Tigers took advantage of Tennessee miscues to cut into the lead late, but UT held on to claim the set 14-25.
The Tigers return to Auburn Arena this weekend for a pair of matches against in-state rival Alabama. The series opens on Saturday at 4:30 p.m. CT on the SEC Network+. Sunday’s finale with air on ESPNU. First serve is set for 2 p.m. CT.

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