MOBILE, Ala. - No. 24 Auburn hosted a block party on Friday in Mobile. Setting a school record with 19 total team blocks, the Tigers grabbed the win, 3-1 (25-15, 26-24, 21-25, 25-19), over UAB to move to 9-1 on the season.
Auburn and UAB traded punches in the early going of Friday afternoon. Trailing, 13-14, head coach Brent Crouch took a timeout and everything changed.
All of a sudden, the Tiger block, serve and overall energy began to rise. As a team, Auburn put down seven blocks in set one.
Three kills from Bel Zimmerman and a pair from Akasha Anderson and Kendal Kemp put together a run that stifled the Blazers. In fact, UAB scored just two points as the Tigers ran out the set, 25-15.
It was Anderson who sparked a run in the second set. With the game tied, Anderson simply refused to leave the service line, kickstarting a 5-0 run.
With Zoe Slaughter and the back row taking care of business, those on the Orange and Blue front row were putting in a shift as well. After seven blocks in the first set, the Tigers added five more in the second.
Kemp led the charge all afternoon, piling up 10 total blocks, tying her career-high.
Even when the Blazers mounted a comeback and took the lead late, it was the Auburn defense that flexed its muscles to restore the advantage.
Kemp's sixth rejection of the afternoon gave the Tigers set point. Moments later, it was Zimmerman and Kyla Swanson who combined on the block assist to give Auburn the two-set advantage.
UAB wasn't going to go away without a fight, though. Lower serve receive numbers prevented the Tigers from gaining any sort of rhythm in the third set.
While Auburn added four more blocks to its total, they couldn't get anything going offensively as the Blazers extended the match into a fourth frame.
Barrett and the offense regained their stride in the fourth. Zimmerman and Anderson each collected four kills while the team hit .357. Two aces from junior transfer Paige Thibault added to the cause, allowing Auburn to create some much-needed distance between them and the Blazers.
Kemp's seventh and eighth kills of the afternoon were more than enough to finish off UAB, secure the win and move to 9-1 on the season.
- Auburn's 19 total team blocks set a new single-match record
- Akasha Anderson (11 kills, 11 digs) posted her second double-double of the season
- Kendal Kemp's 10 blocks tie her career-best
- Zoe Slaughter reached double-digit digs for the third time this season
- Bel Zimmerman (16 kills, 12 digs) recorded her second-career double-double
- Paige Thibault's two aces are the most she's posted in an Auburn uniform
"I thought at times we played really well and that was reflected in some of the scoring runs we had, particularly in that first set as well as some leads that we built in some of the other sets. We need to work on consistency for sure. The offense wasn't going the way that we needed it to go. I thought we were pressing a little bit. But the defense took care of things. I thought we did a nice job adjusting to some of the tips they were making. They were hitting some off-speed shots to some areas that we don't typically defend and we made some nice adjustments to pick those up. I thought Zoe [Slaughter] in particular was a bright spot on defense.
"Nineteen blocks is pretty impressive. We've got some physical players and I think they're learning how to play within our system. Our system is about blocking the ball. It's not about taking areas away and funneling shots to certain areas of the court, which some other teams run. Ours is about reading where the setter is going to set and getting as many blockers up as possible. As you get better at reading, when you have the physicality that we do, the block numbers are going to really go off the charts.
Auburn rounds out the Alabama Showdown on Saturday, Sept. 16 against Samford at Noon CT. The Tigers return to the Plains on Sept. 22 for the start of SEC when they'll face the Florida Gators at 6:30 p.m. CT.