Just two days after beating Alabama, Tennessee volleyball returned to Thompson-Boling Arena to face the Auburn Tigers after a two-game road trip. The Volunteers managed an impressive 3-0 win (25-21, 25-23, 30-28) to move to 15-8 (5-5 SEC).
Despite the quick turnaround from their last game, the Vols got off to a quick and energetic start in the first set, taking advantage of a big run midway through to put the Tigers down 1-0 early. The second set began with Tennessee taking five of the first seven points. Auburn was able to battle back to make it a closer match, but the Vols pulled away at the end and took a 2-0 lead into the break.
“We really wanted to emulate the energy we had early at Alabama,” said senior Bri Holmes, who led the way for Tennessee with 13 kills. “Being on our home court and with our fans gave us the advantage, and that really helped our energy.”
After a back-and-forth beginning to the third set, the Vols scored six straight to take a 15-11 lead. Minutes later, Holmes had a huge spike to put her team up 17-12. Though it appeared as if that may have been it for the visitors, the Tigers were able to battle back and force the set to continue in a competitive manner.
Auburn even managed to take a few late leads, with Tennessee facing set points three separate times. Thanks to clutch plays from Holmes and sophomore Erica Treiber, however, the Vols were able to survive and put the game away, 30-28.
The quick turnaround may have been a reason for the team’s lackluster performance in the third set, but head coach Rob Patrick said he didn’t see his players getting tired.
“I give the players a lot of credit,” Patrick said. “We drove home after the Alabama match on Friday and got home at three in the morning, we had a practice yesterday at 3:30 and then they had to get up early for this match… They’re pretty conditioned. Our strength and conditioning coach does a fantastic job.”
Holmes added seven digs to her impressive kills total. Treiber had 12 kills of her own. Freshman setter Sedona Hansen racked up 47 assists, making Sunday’s game the tenth time she’s finished a game with at least 40.
The Vols now have a break before the re-take the court for the beginning of a difficult and important stretch of games. As teams fight to earn themselves a spot in the postseason tournament, Tennessee must play three of the SEC’s top four teams five times across their remaining eight games.
The Vols’ next game comes on Friday, when they’ll host the conference’s No. 2 team, Missouri, at 7 p.m.
Edited by David Bradford
Featured image by Craig Bisacre, courtesy of Tennessee Athletics