JACKSONVILLE, Ala. - The Auburn volleyball team picked up another non-conference win Monday night with a 3-0 (25-19, 25-21, 25-9) victory over Jacksonville State in front of 604 fans at a sweltering Pete Mathews Coliseum.
Auburn (7-1) had a tough battle with the Gamecocks (2-6) through the first two sets, finding an opponent that was chasing down every attack and playing tough defense. But major improvements in the service game - most notably, a run of three consecutive aces by freshman Stephanie Campbell - helped the Tigers roll in the third set to secure the sweep.
"We didn't serve very aggressively in the beginning, and they were getting in system and playing scrappy," Auburn head coach Rick Nold said. "We played into what they wanted to do. I thought as the match went along, we got more aggressive with our serve and were able to take them out of system. That played more into what we wanted to do defensively.
"Steph got that run together, and she was serving some tough balls and putting them back on their heels. When that happens, you're able to get set up for how you want to defend an outside hitter, and it makes it a little bit easier for transition."
Monday's match marked the return to Jacksonville for Nold, who coached the Gamecocks from 2002-10 and led JSU to three Ohio Valley Conference titles. Nold has been on the winning side in the last four Auburn-JSU meetings, winning in 2008 and 2009 with the Gamecocks and the last two years with Auburn. It was also a return for assistant coach Eysha Ambler, who was a three-sport letter-winner for the Gamecocks and served as an assistant to Nold from 2002-04.
"It was exciting to be back," Nold said. "There was a great crowd here today, and I was really impressed with Jacksonville State. They were scrappy and really got after us."
Katherine Culwell led Auburn with 12 kills and 15 digs for her fourth double-double of the season. Both Tiger setters recorded double-doubles as well - senior Chelsea Wintzinger had a match-high 26 assists along with 10 digs, and sophomore Ciara Richards finished with 10 assists and 12 digs.
Senior Camila Jersonsky was just shy of double-digits with nine kills on 19 attacks with just one error for a .421 hitting percentage, and Campbell equaled her season-high with nine kills of her own to go along with her three service aces. Freshman Emily Klitzke had a season-best seven kills on 12 swings with just one error for a .500 hitting percentage, and senior Kathia Rud also finished with seven kills. Sarah Wroblicky equaled Culwell for the team lead in digs with 15.
The Tigers controlled all statistical categories in the match, leading in kills (47-30), digs (66-54), assists (43-29) and hitting percentage (.274-.126). Auburn also had four service aces with just one error on the night while JSU had two aces with six errors.
Auburn will make its final non-conference road trip of the season this weekend as the Tigers travel to South Bend, Ind., for the Shamrock Invitational at Notre Dame. The Tigers will take on Oakland at 3:30 p.m. CT Friday before playing Loyola-Chicago (9:30 a.m.) and the host Fighting Irish (6:30 p.m.) on Saturday at Purcell Pavilion.