MOBILE, Ala. - Down two sets and trailing by as many as seven in the fourth, Auburn Volleyball flipped the script to run past South Alabama, 3-2 (27-25, 23-25, 19-25, 25-23, 15-8) and improve to 8-1 on the season.
Early serving success for the Tigers gave Auburn a four-point lead midway through the opening set. Madison Scheer led the way with four kills while Bel Zimmerman was close behind with three.
The Jaguars made a push near the end of the frame to push it into extra points. Once Auburn had the lead, though, they wouldn't let it go. A Jackie Barrett and Kendal Kemp block sealed it, 27-25.
Akasha Anderson did all she could to take over the second set. After just two kills in the first, Anderson exploded for nine more in the second.
Anderson would tie her career-high with 26 kills and ran down 11 digs for her first double-double of the season. Speaking of career bests, Barrett tied hers with five aces, Zimmerman set a new mark four herself with four and Syndey Handel stepped in to record a career-high 10 digs.
However, a handful of errors both attacking and from the service line proved too much to overcome for the Tigers as the Jaguars tied the match at one set apiece.
Senior setter Jackie Barrett had the offense purring in the third set. Anderson swung for seven more kills while the team hit .324. Barrett stacked up 48 assists and grabbed 11 digs for her fifth double-double of 2023.
The Jaguars were just as stout, though. South Alabama hit .378 and picked up three aces along the way to secure a win in the third set and take the lead.
Fueled by the home crowd, the Jaguars once again ran out to a sizeable lead in the fourth. Trailing 9-2, Auburn had enough.
Kendal Kemp put down a kill, Anderson followed with an ace and all of a sudden the Tigers had something brewing. Barrett kept things going from the service line, dialing up a six-point run, giving her team all the momentum they needed.
Once Auburn sided out, Bel Zimmerman and Chelsey Harmon picked up where Barrett left off. Blocks from Kemp and Scheer gave Brent Crouch's squad even more energy. Lead in hand, the Tigers weren't giving it back.
Even when South Alabama crept within one, 24-23, Zimmerman served up one of the coldest aces in 2023.
Crouch was 6-3 in five-setters last year. This edition of the Tigers weren't about to ruin that reputation.
Zimmerman and Harmon kicked off the set with a thunderous block and each, along with Barrett, would keep things rolling at the service line.
Barrett directed an offense that hit .326 in the final stanza, which included four kills from Anderson. When the dust settled, Auburn left no doubt in the fifth, securing the set 15-8 and extending the team's record to 8-1.
- Auburn is now 1-0 in five-set matches this season. Crouch is now 9-8 at Auburn in five-setters
- The Tiger's 14 aces were the most under Crouch while at Auburn, the fourth-most in a single match in program history and the most since Auburn had 14 against Troy in 2010
- Auburn's 81 digs were a season-best and the most since the Tigers had 85 at LSU last October
- Auburn reached at least 10 total team blocks for the fourth time this season
- Madison Scheer reached double-digits in kills for the sixth time this season
- Akasha Anderson's 26 kills tie a career-best
- Anderson also grabbed 11 digs for her first double-double of 2023
- Jackie Barrett tied her career-high with five aces
- Barrett (48 assists, 11 digs) also secured her fifth double-double of the season
- Bel Zimmerman's four aces were a career-high
- Zimmerman also reached the double-digit kill mark for the fourth time in 2023
- Sydney Handel's 10 digs were a career-best
"No, they don't like to lose. We were a little uneven tonight, we didn't play great. Akasha [Anderson] was back from illness and looked a little off for the early parts of the match. When she settled down and started getting a bunch of kills, that coincided with us doing better.
"The thing that really kept us in it, because we were struggling in a lot of the facets of the game, was serving. We ended up with 14 aces and a lot in that fourth-set turnaround. We work on serving so much, and we're becoming a good serving team. I think Bel [Zimmerman] has the capability of being one of the best servers in the country. She's already one of the best in the conference.
"Chelsey [Harmon] came in off the bench and I thought she did a great job bringing a lot of energy. Bel has been showing us that she's a good left-side attacker. We put her back on the right now that Akasha was back but her numbers have been so good on the left. Madison [Scheer] had struggled a bit so we flipped them and that seemed to help."
It's a quick turnaround for the Tigers as the Alabama Showdown continues in Mobile on Friday, Sept. 15 when Auburn takes on UAB at 2:30 p.m. CT. The Orange and Blue will round out the tournament against Samford on Saturday, Sept. 16 against Samford at Noon CT.