Auburn treks to No. 24 Mississippi State for season finale

AUBURN, Ala. – Ending the regular season with its fourth straight match against a ranked foe, Auburn volleyball (13-14, 5-12 SEC) travels to Starkville, Miss., to face No. 24 Mississippi State (24-5, 15-2 SEC) in a single match on Friday.

First serve from the Newell-Grissom Building is scheduled for 4 p.m. CT. Friday’s series finale will also be available on the SEC Network+.

QUICK HITS

  • Auburn concludes its regular-season slate on Friday with its fourth straight contest against a ranked opponent as the Tigers travel to Starkville to face No. 24 Mississippi State. Auburn has won six of the last 10 matches against the Bulldogs.
  • Coming off her 23rd double-digit kill performance of the season, junior Rebekah Rath continues her stranglehold as one of the top offensive players in the SEC as she leads the league in five offensive categories: attacks per set, kills per set, points, points per set and total attacks.
  • With the season coming to a close, the block party is still going strong as Tatum Shipes enters Friday’s match with the program’s single season records for total blocks, block assists and blocks per set in the rally-scoring era. Joining Shipes is fellow senior Elif Yavuz, who ranks 11th in school history with an 0.82 blocks per set average.
  • The SEC digs leader, Bella Rosenthall is inching her way to one of the top-four digging performances of the rally-scoring era. Rosenthall needs just one digs in Friday’s match to surpass Sarah Wroblicky (2010) for fourth outright.
  • Auburn has made program history this season as the Tigers have one a total of six SEC weekly honors: Rebekah Rath (2), Bella Rosenthall (2), Liz Reich (1), Tatum Shipes (1).
  • Defense has been the name of the game for the Tigers this season. Auburn enters the weekend second in the SEC in digs (15.92) and fourth in blocks (2.44). The Tigers have held opponents to a .170 hitting percentage – the lowest in the SEC and the 35th lowest mark in the country.
  •  Junior Rebekah Rath made program history over the weekend, shattering the program’s record for single-season kills in the rally-scoring era. Rath enters the weekend with 426 kills, the second most in the SEC.
  • Senior Tatum Shipes has turned in one of the best blocking performances in almost two decades as her 137 total blocks this season is the most by any Tiger since 2000.
  •  With 13 wins under its belt, Auburn has recorded the most victories in a season since the 2017 squad closed the year with a 15-12 overall record.

SCOUTING MISSISSIPPI STATE
Entering Friday’s match with its first top-25 ranking in program history, No. 24 Mississippi State stands second in the league standings with a 15-2 SEC record heading into the final week of regular-season play. The Bulldogs’ lone losses in league action have come at the hands of Florida and SEC standings leader Kentucky. With its 24-5 overall record, Mississippi State has set a school record for wins in a season.
 
Mississippi State currently leads the SEC in team kills (1,611) and team attacks (4,133). The Bulldogs average 13.77 kills per set this season and rank sixth in the SEC with a .243 team hitting percentage. State splits the majority of its offense between senior middle blocker/right side Gabby Waden and junior outside hitter/right side Lauren Myrick. Waden leads the team and ranks third in the league with 399 total kills. She averages 3.41 per set. Waden also holds a team-leading .331 hitting percentage, the seventh highest in the league. Taking the most swings on the squad, Myrick holds a 3.09 kills per set average. Myrick is also State’s biggest threat at the service line with 35 aces to her credit, the fourth most in the SEC.
 
The Bulldogs utilize a pair of setters to call their offense. The setting combo has the Bulldogs on top of the SEC with total assists. Senior Gabby Coulter has started 15 of State’s 29 matches this season. She has totaled 613 assists to average 5.38 per set. Graduate student Margaret Dean has totaled 631 assists in her 13 starts. She holds a 5.39 per set average. Dean is more of an offensive threat between the pair as she has 19 kills on a .270 hitting percentage.
 
Sophomore defensive specialist Lilly Gunter has carried the bulk of Mississippi State’s defense with 455 digs, the third most in the SEC. Gunter averages 3.99 digs per set. Myrick is also a strong defensive option for the Bulldogs with 300 digs to her credit.
 
At the net, Mississippi State averages 2.06 blocks per set at the team, a mark that ranks ninth in the SEC. Senior middle blocker Deja Robinson is the biggest target at the net with 133 blocks, ranking second only to Auburn’s own Tatum Shipes for most blocks in the league. Robinson also ranks seventh in the SEC with a 1.17 blocks per set average.
 

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