Blocking effort shines in five-set battle in Arkansas

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Out-blocking the Razorbacks 17.0 to 5.0, Auburn volleyball (10-6, 2-4 SEC) took the first two sets at Barnhill Arena, but Arkansas (14-4, 5-2 SEC) battle back to win the final three sets (25-20, 25-23, 15-25, 17-25, 7-15) to take Sunday’s match 3-2.

Picking up right where she left off in game one of the two-match series, junior Rebekah Rath led the Tigers with 20 kills for her second straight match with at least 20 kills. Rath totaled 49 kills in her two matches against the Razorbacks.

Rath earned her sixth double-double of the season as she closed the match with 10 digs. Her stat line also included one ace and five blocks.

In her first double-digit kill performance in Southeastern Conference play, senior Val Green totaled 13 kills and closed the evening with a .231 hitting percentage. Green was credited wit two blocks and three digs.

Graduate student Liz Reich did damage on both sides of the ball, totaling eight kills and setting a season high with six blocks. Reich was also credited with a dig.

Sophomore setter Jackie Barrett extended her streak to five consecutive matches with a double-double as she dished out 26 assists and 16 digs. Barrett leads the team with 11 double-doubles this season. Barrett also added four blocks and a kill.

In total, five Tigers finished with double-digit digs led by senior Bella Rosenthall’s 20. Rosenthall has recorded at least 20 digs in seven matches this season. Freshman Kate Curtis recorded a season-high 15 digs. Freshman Fallan Lanham also chipped in 10 digs.

The senior dup of Tatum Shipes and Elif Yavuz led the Tigers at the net. Yavuz tied her season high with 8.0 in the match, while Shipes closed the match with nine. Shipes moved into eighth in Auburn single-season history with 81 block assists. Shipes’s 97.0 total blocks are tied with Lauren Mellor (2009) and Breanna Barksdale (2016) for four in single-season history.

Powered by kills from Rath and Reich and a Tiger block, Auburn jumped out to an early 4-0 lead, Arkansas would battle from behind ultimately tying the set at 12-all with a kill from Maggie Cartwright, but Auburn would immediately respond with back-to-back kills form Rath before a block carry the Tigers into the media timeout with a 15-14 lead. After trading points for a pair of ties, Barrett dumped a kill over the net to put Auburn back in front followed by a service ace from Shipes. Arkansas would battle late, fighting off a pair of set points, before Green secured a 25-20 win for the Tigers with a kill.
Auburn once against jumped out early and took advantage of Razorback errors to build an 8-4 lead. After trading points, Arkansas used two 3-0 runs to tie the set up at 11-all, before using kills from Cartwright to jump ahead 15-12 heading into the media timeout. Kills from Rath and Green and Arkansas attack errors pulled Auburn within one before Shipes tie the set 17-all with an ace. With the set tied 20-all, Reich put Auburn in front with a kill and block to force an Arkansas time out. Out of the break, Rath picked up a kill to force set point at 24-21. Arkansas fought off a pair of set points before Rath delivered yet again to win set two, 25-23.
The Tigers kept the third stanza close as a 4-0 Tiger run tied the set up at 8-all, but Arkansas answered with three straight kills from Ellease Crumpton to build the lead to 12-8 and force an Auburn timeout. Green delivered a kill out of the timeout, but Arkansas went on a 5-0 run to take a 17-9 advantage. Auburn continued to battle late in the set fighting off three set points, but Arkansas was able to hang on for the 25-15 victory.  
Arkansas used an 8-1 scoring run to jump out early in the set, forcing Auburn to play from behind. Auburn was led in the set by Rath’s five total kills, but as a team the Tigers were held to a .194 hitting percentage. The Razorbacks totaled 16 kills in the set behind a .343 hitting percentage to win, 25-17.
Auburn landed a kill from Rath on the second rally of the set, but Arkansas jumped out to a 7-1 lead. Errors continued to plague Auburn down the stretch until Rosenthall landed an ace ahead of a Tiger block to cut the lead to 12-6. After trading service errors, Arkansas closed the match with a kill and service ace to win the final set, 15-7.  
The Tigers return to Auburn Arena next weekend to host Missouri for a two-match series. The series begins Saturday, Oct. 16 at 4:30 p.m. CT. Sunday’s finale is slated for 1 p.m. CT. Both matches will air on SEC Network+.

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