The Official Website of the Southeastern Conference
The Official Website of the Southeastern Conference

Auburn staves off Georgia's late comeback bid

117 days ago
Auburn Athletics
Photo: Auburn Athletics

AUBURN, Ala. - Seventeen matches into 2022 and there aren't many superlatives left to describe Auburn Volleyball.

Erasing three match points, the Tigers capped off the weekend sweep of Georgia with a virtually indescribable, 3-2 (25-22, 25-21, 15-25, 24-26, 16-14), victory.

Just like Saturday, Jackie Barrett began the match operating the offense on all cylinders. Bel Zimmerman, Akasha Anderson and Chelsey Harmon each had two kills early.

Georgia punched back with aggressive serving to grab a slight lead at the midway point. But as the Orange and Blue fans are accustomed to seeing, the young group of Tigers are never afraid to come back.

As the serve-receive improved, so did the rest of the Tiger's play. A Barrett and Kemp block tied the set at 19 and forced a Bulldog timeout.

Kemp, who just reset her career-best with 10 blocks a day ago, would tie the effort with 10 more on Sunday.

Minutes later, with the match tied at 22, Madison Scheer took matters into her own hands. A kill and solo block gave Auburn set point. Zimmerman and Harmon stepped up to finish things off with a block of their own, giving the home side an important early advantage.

Head coach Brent Crouch's crew were back at it in the second set. Despite a pair of aces and another five-point lead for Georgia, the Tigers roared back with a vengeance.

Harmon connected on a couple of blocks and solid passing from Zoe Slaughter, Sarah Morton and Fallan Lanham had the Auburn offense purring. Midway through the set, the home side was hitting .357 and it only got better.

Morton would finish with a career-high 26 digs on the evening.

Five kills from Anderson and another three from Scheer gave Auburn a .385 hitting percentage. Sensing blood in the water near the end of the set, Jackie Barrett took matters into her own hands twice, connecting on both attacks. A Jordan Sinness ace made it 23-20 and Auburn never looked back, taking a two-set advantage.

The Tigers never expected for Georgia to turn around and go home to Athens easily. A 5-0 run in the early parts of the third gave the visitors a 9-4 lead. By the time the media break hit, Auburn was down by seven.

A 3-0 run that included another big block from Kemp and a kill from Anderson had the Orange and Blue moving in the right direction. This time, however, Auburn wasn't able to turn it around, forcing a fourth set.

Once more, the Tigers dug themselves a hole in the fourth. Down 11-5, Crouch's crew tried to recreate the same magic from a day ago.

Three straight points with Lanham at the service line was capped off by a block from Harmon and all of a sudden the match was tied once more. Back and forth the two battled but ultimately, the Bulldogs ran off two quick ones to force a deciding fifth set.

If the Tigers were going to pull off another thrilling victory, it was going to start at the service line. Sarah Morton ignited the effort, clawing the Tigers back to a 3-3 tie.

Moments later it was Akasha Anderson who forced Georgia out of system, allowing Jackie Barrett and Madison Scheer to tie the set at seven.

Georgia stretched its lead to its largest of the set and with triple match point at 14-11, it was all up to Zoe Slaughter and the Tigers.

Slaughter coolly and calmly stepped to the line time and time again to give her team chance after chance. Anderson's 20th and 21st kills of the night inched Auburn closer. Kemp's eighth tied the match and sent Neville Arena into a frenzy.

A point later, Barrett and Kemp blew the top of the Plains with a block. But it was Kemp and Anderson who sent the decibel levels skyrocketing for Auburn's 18th block of the match, clinching the victory and tying the school record in the process.

MATCH NOTES

  • Auburn's 18 blocks tied the school record for most in the rally-scoring era
  • The Tigers are now 16-1 and 5-1 in the SEC, equaling the conference win total from a season ago
  • Auburn is now 4-1 in five-set matches this season
  • Brent Crouch moves to 34-39 in five-setters in his career and 7-7 at Auburn
  • The Tigers have won three of the last four against Georgia and eight of the last 11 matches
  • Kendal Kemp has recorded two straight matches with 10 blocks
  • Sarah Morton's 26 digs were a career-high
  • Akasha Anderson (21 kills, 11 digs) grabbed her sixth double-double of the season
  • Anderson reached the 20-kill mark for the fourth time this season