The Tennessee volleyball team will travel to Auburn to play the Tigers in Auburn Arena on Wednesday and Thursday. The Lady Vols will look to improve to 4-4 after the weekday series, while the Tigers hope to notch their first mark in the win column as they currently sit 0-6 on the season.
Tennessee’s last series was against then No. 15 South Carolina. In the first match, Tennessee won 3-1 and defeated the Gamecocks 25-7 in the first set, which was their largest first set win since defeating Milwaukee on Sept. 9, 2016, by the same margin.
The Lady Vols were led by Lily Felts who finished with 19 kills, a career-tying mark. Danielle Mahaffey was second on the team with 11 kills. Ava Bell finished the match with a team-high .471 hitting percentage, eight kills, and a season-high eight blocks. Natalie Hayward played the distributor for Tennessee, as she finished the match with 42 assists.
"Tennessee presents some new challenges for us," Auburn head coach Brent Crouch said. "They like to serve the ball short, and they do some different things offensively where they move their middle hitters wider from their setter to overload an arena of the net. Facing new challenges against new teams is always fun, but it's been a good week of practice. We're excited to play."
In game two, South Carolina was able to bounce back and won the match 3-0. Riley Whitesides led the Gamecocks with 12 kills and six digs. Mikayla Robinson and Holly Eastridge both finished with nine kills, with the latter finishing with a game-high .643 hitting percentage.
Tennessee struggled in that game offensively. The Lady Vols hit just .179 and committed 23 errors. While on the other side of the net, South Carolina hit .288 and only committed 10 errors.
Auburn welcomes Tennessee as one of two SEC teams still without a win during this season. Ole Miss (0-4) is the other conference team still looking for that elusive victory. However, Auburn is tied with Florida State with the third-toughest fall schedule in the country.
The Tigers’ most recent series was against the No. 2 Kentucky Wildcats. Auburn was swept in both matches and never reached the 20 point mark in a set.
Despite the offensive struggles, Auburn is one of the better defensive teams in the country. The Tigers rank No. 14 nationally in block/set (2.37). Middle blocker, Chesney McClellan, is No. 16 in the country with 1.16 blocks/set average.
Jaeden Brown made her first start at the pin in their series against Kentucky. The senior recorded back-to-back six-kill tallies. Payton White and Bella Rosenthall reached the 700 career dig milestone against Kentucky.
Tennessee will look to keep up the offensive pressure. In the nation, the Lady Vols rank No. 14 in attacks per set with a 36.7 average. They are also the 15th ranked team in digs with a 16.17 mark.
The first match against these two teams is on Wednesday at 8 p.m. while game two will be on Thursday at 6 p.m.