Oct. 5, 2011
ATHENS, Ga. - The University of Georgia volleyball team trailed after the first set but rallied back to take three-straight sets to defeat Auburn, 3-1, at the Ramsey Student Center on Wednesday evening.
In a match televised nationally on ESPNU, Georgia witnessed Auburn take the first set 25-19 before rallying to win the next three sets 25-22, 25-19 and 25-19 for the victory. The Bulldogs improved to 7-10 overall and 3-4 in Southeastern Conference action with the win while the Tigers dropped to 9-8 overall and 3-4 in league play.
"I am proud of the effort that the team had tonight," Georgia head coach Lizzy Stemke said. "We started out a little slow, but we got into a little groove and never let it go. That's what we have been searching for and working toward in practice. I am so proud of what the team was able to do tonight."
Defense propelled Georgia to victory on Wednesday as the Bulldogs came away with a season-best 75 digs led by sophomore libero Allison Summers' career-best 23 digs. It marked the first time Georgia has recorded 75 digs in a match since Nov. 9, 2008, when it had 84 against Alabama.
"We have been improving week-to-week, and it was exciting to see all of the hard work come together," Summers said."We wanted to go out there and defend our court. Auburn isn't a team that is going to let you walk over them, so it was important to come out and play hard."
Behind Summers, the defensive effort was supported by a season-best 13 digs from senior Carla Tietz, 12 digs from senior setter Kathleen Gates and a career-best 10 digs from freshman Gaby Smiley. For Tietz, the 13 digs raised her career total 1,350 giving her sole possession of fourth all-time at Georgia.
UGA also led the match in blocks at 10.0 to 9.0 with senior Elizabeth Reid and Gates each recorded five stops. For Gates the five blocks were a season-high.
Gates also recorded her team-leading fifth double-double by setting the tone for the offense with 43 assists as the Bulldogs recorded 55 kills on a .222 hitting percentage. Leading the team in kills was outside hitter Brittany Northcutt with 14 and the sophomore narrowly missed a double-double of her own with nine digs.
Georgia finished with four players in double-digit kills as senior Ann Dylla posted 12 while redshirt sophomore Kathleen Luft and junior Brian Bahr each added 11 kills. Luft was celebrating her 21st birthday on Wednesday.
Auburn was led in the contest by Sarah Bullock and Kelly Fidero. Bullock posted a double-double with a match-best 17 kills and 20 digs while Fidero added 13 kills.
In the first set, Auburn got out to a 3-1 lead before Georgia was able to tie it at six. Then a 4-0 run put the Tigers ahead 10-6, but Georgia answered with a run of its own as two Luft kills and a block from Gates and Reid had the home team down one at 10-9. The teams traded points until being tied again at 16. Auburn then put together six-straight points en route to a 25-19 set win.
The second set started similar to the first, as the Tigers got a quick lead at 8-4. Georgia then started closing the gap as a Luft kill had the Bulldogs down 10-9. Next, a 9-2 run by Georgia that featured back-to-back kills from Bahr and two stops at the net with Reid in both along with assists from Gates and Bahr put together a 25-22 comeback win for the Bulldogs.
In the third set, Georgia led early at 3-1 before Auburn tied it at three. In dominating fashion, Georgia proceeded to go on a 5-0 scoring spree that included kills from Northcutt and Reid. The Bulldogs continued to hold the lead, which got as high as eight in part to three Auburn miscues and a 3-0 run that had a kill from Reid and two from Dylla. The set closed out with an Auburn service error at 25-19 in favor of Georgia.
The teams kept it tight in the beginning of the fourth set as the score was tied seven times before a Gates block and Tiger error put Georgia up 14-12. The set then featured four more tie scores until after reaching 18-18 Georgia took control of the floor with four Northcutt kills and two from Dylla leading the Bulldogs to a 25-19 win and taking the match 3-1.
Wednesday's match against Auburn concluded a season-long, five-match home stand for Georgia. Up next, UGA takes to the road traveling to Starkville, Miss., on Friday to face Mississippi State (8-7, 3-3 SEC). First serve of the UGA-MSU match is slated for 8 p.m. ET. Live stats will be available through www.mstateathletics.com.