The Auburn Tigers (11-0) entered the JSU invitational, at Jacksonville State University, this weekend an impressive 8-0. The Tigers were set to be challenged three times in two days as they faced off against the likes of Southern Miss, Jackson State, and host Jacksonville State.
Auburn faced up against Southern Miss (7-2) to start out the weekends play. It did not take long for the Tigers to wrap it up as it only took three sets to complete the match. Auburn posted a line of 25-23 in the first set and 25-21 in each of the second and third sets.
Chelsey Harmon came up big in the first set as she claimed her second, of three blocks on the afternoon, to give Auburn the advantage which ultimately gave the Tigers the momentum to take the first set on-route to the three set win.
Coach Crouch had this to say on Harmon’s performance, “We knew she was going to get a lot of one-on-one matchups and she took full advantage, hitting with accuracy to different areas of the court. When we are able to attack multiple zones, we’re always going to be very dangerous.”
Riding momentum from Friday’s win against Southern Miss, Auburn looked to take advantage of Jackson State heading into the first matchup on Saturday.
Auburn did just that.
Once again, it only took the Tigers three sets to take down their opponent. In set one was a 25-20 score, whereas the second set was a close one as the Tigers came out 26-24. TO finish it out Auburn posted a convincing 25-16 scoreline to extend their unbeaten record to 10 matches on the year.
Similar to last match, Chelsey Harmon was on top of her game posting 12 kills off of 17 swings for the Tigers. Akasha Anderson and Bel Zimmerman join the impressive outing with Harmon by each posting a joint team high 12 kills.
Auburn finished off on a 6-1 run in the final moments of what could be considered a job well done.
Heading into the final match of the JSU invitational the Tigers look to remain perfect with the toughest test ahead. Entering the second, and final, match of the day the undefeated Tigers faced up against the undefeated Jacksonville State Gamecocks.
This match had all the eyes on it as it was expected to go five sets from the beginning, and that is exactly what happened.
The Tigers started out of the gates hot taking the first two sets of the match with a score of 25-19 and 25-20.
Madison Scheer was lights out in the early stages going three-for-three to help the Tigers gain a leg up on Jacksonville State.
All cylinders were firing for Auburn in the first two sets, but that quickly cooled off when it came time for the third.
The Gamecocks made it a match by taking the third set 25-19. A combination of good play by Jacksonville State and poor errors from Auburn is what ultimately led to the fourth set.
It was much more of the same for both squads in the fourth set. Jacksonville State took the set 25-23 in a close one. Although it was a tougher battle Auburn errors can be argued for the lack of ability to close the match out.
It all came down to the final set to determine who would stay undefeated on the year.
Much like the first two sets, Madison Scheer came to play and that is what she did. The freshman tallied kill after kill finishing with a match high 22.
Coach Crouch had this to say about Madison Sheer, “She was unbelievable. We’ve got her in the front row with only one other hitter. We haven’t really developed our back-row attack at the level we want so far. When we pass balls off the net, it’s just going to be Madison hitting a high ball versus a giant block that knows it’s going to her and she’s still getting kills. She is just an athlete, making huge plays time and time again.
Behind the outstanding play of Scheer, Auburn was able to claim the fifth set 15-11 to advance to a program record 11-0 and remain undefeated on the year.
It was a tough environment for the Tigers to play in but the Tigers overcame it as Coach Crouch eluded to, “In the first two sets, we played the best we ever have offensively. We passed extremely well and were hitting over .400 with 18 and 17 kills per set. Then they started serving tough and we got a little tentative. “We made some errors in that third set and when that happened, the crowd came alive. They were a little quiet through those first two sets but by the third, it was just packed in there with people screaming and yelling. We haven’t been in that kind of environment yet. It knocked us on our heels but to come back the way we did in the fifth set and play the way we did means the team worked through it together.”
The Tigers will look to continue this amazing run with a rivalry win against Alabama as they will travel to Tuscaloosa on September 24th for a 1:00 p.m. match.