Tigers honor senior class; Rath shatters kills record against #8 Kentucky

AUBURN, Ala. – On an emotional night as Auburn volleyball (13-13, 5-11 SEC) honored its 2021 senior class, junior Rebekah Rath made history Saturday inside Auburn Arena as she shattered the program’s single-season kills record in a three-set (13-25, 10-25, 20-25) contest against No. 8 Kentucky (21-4, 14-1 SEC).

Rath totaled 10 kills in the match for her 22nd double-digit performance of the year to bring her season total to 414 kills to surpass Jessica Glover (2008) for the program’s season record in the rally-scoring era. Rath also added six digs in her record-setting performance.

Rounding out the remainder of the Tiger offense was the senior class. Graduate student Liz Reich added six kills, two digs and two blocks for the Tigers. Val Green chipped in three kills, a dig and a pair of blocks. Senior Elif Yavuz took four swings in the match, landing a pair of kills, one assist and a dig.

Senior Tatum Shipes totaled three kills in the match while adding a service ace to round out her offensive performance. Shipes contributed to three of Auburn’s four total team blocks.

Shipes has now recorded 116 block assists this season, which ties Jaunelle Hamilton (2000) for the most in a season regardless of era. Her 136 total blocks move her to sixth outright, regardless of era. She already holds the single-season records for both categories in the rally-scoring era.

Sophomore Jackie Barrett dished out 18 assists as the Tigers starting setter. She added one block and 12 digs for her team-leading 16th double-double of the season.

Defensively, senior Bella Rosenthall led the Tigers with 15 digs. Rosenthall has totaled 471 digs this season, the fifth most in a single season in school history during the rally-scoring era.

Rosenthall also jumped Rachel Shanks (2004-07) for eighth in Auburn career history as she brought her career total to 1,187 with her performance.

Auburn’s offense was slow to start in the opening set, matching its eight kills with eight attacking errors. Reich was the Tigers’ top contributor, totaling three kills on a .400 hit percentage. Rath also added three kills in the opening stanza. The Wildcats turned in a .333 attacking clip and stuffed the Tigers at the net six times to take set one, 25-13. 
Kentucky jumped out early with an 8-2 run to force the Tigers to play from behind. Auburn spread its offense across the net with three kills from Rath with a two-kill performance from both Yavuz and Shipes. Defensively, Kentucky continued to challenge Auburn’s hitters to earn a 25-10 victory.
The Tigers saw their best offensive start of the night in the final stanza, opening on a 7-2 run aided by three kills and a block assist from Reich. Following a timeout, Kentucky chipped into the Auburn before Rath’s record-breaking kill provided the Tigers a 14-13 edge. Auburn’s offense stalled late, seeing points from three Rath kills as the Wildcats completed with sweep with a 25-20 set victory.
Auburn meets Kentucky for a rematch on Sunday. First serve on the SEC Network+ is scheduled for 1 p.m. CT.

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