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    SEC Volleyball Roundup: Wednesday, November 27

    Georgia 3, Auburn 1
    Texas A&M 3, South Carolina 0
    Missouri 3, Arkansas 0
    Alabama 3, Mississippi State 0
    Florida 3, Kentucky 2
    Ole Miss 3, LSU 2
    Georgia Picks Up 3-1 Win Over Auburn in SEC Finale
    ATHENS, Ga. – The Georgia volleyball reached 21 wins for the first time since 1995 with its 3-1 (20-25, 25-16, 25-22, 25-17) win over the Auburn Tigers in the final Southeastern Conference match of the season on Wednesday, Nov. 27 at the Ramsey Center in Athens, Ga. The Bulldogs are now 21-9 overall and finished SEC play with a record of 11-7. Auburn fell to 19-11 overall and 10-8 in the SEC.
    “I’d go to war with this group any day,” Head Coach Lizzy Stemke. “They are incredibly resilient and have shown that kind of rebound time and time again. This [Auburn] is a team we haven’t seen all year and it was a very fresh team. We spend some of the first set figuring out their game plan, how we were going to react to it and figuring out what adjustments needed to be made. Our offense was incredibly balanced tonight. I thought we handled our first ball well and we waited for those moments to defensively get points. And then we were able to put some of those strings together. I’m really, really proud of the way they responded. It was a great SEC match tonight.”
    The Bulldogs had five players in double figures tonight, with each hitting over .300 for the match. The offense was led by Tirah Le’au with 13 kills, while hitting at a .312 clip. Brittany Northcutt  hit at a .423 efficiency while racking up 12 kills. Northcutt also tallied 10 digs for her 11th double-double of the year. Stacey Smith and Jasmine Eatmon recorded 11 kills each, hitting .391 and .450, respectively, while Lauren Teknipp added 10 kills and hit .364. As a team, the Bulldogs hit at a .352 efficiency. Northcutt and Le’au also tallied two service aces each. The offense was paced by Kaylee Kehoe, who finished with 30 digs, while Maggie Baumert added 23. Allison Summers led the team with 16 digs. Elena Perri led the Bulldogs with eight blocks, including two solo stops.
    Auburn took an early 9-3 lead in the first set and never relinquished the lead as the Tigers took the first set 25-20. The Bulldogs answered by taking the second set 25-16 to tie the match at one set each. The set remained close in the opening possessions, as neither team was able to take control. With Auburn holding a 7-5 lead, a Teknipp kill sparked a 4-0 run that gave the Bulldogs a 9-7 lead. Georgia extended its lead to 13-9 after a Smith kill, an Auburn error and a block by Perri, forcing the Tigers to use a timeout. A pair of Teknipp kills helped Georgia to an 18-11 lead that caused Auburn to use its final timeout of the set. With Northcutt at the service line, Georgia scored three-straight to give it set point at 24-15. Smith sealed the 25-16 win two possessions later with a kill.
    The Tigers took an early 11-9 lead in the third set, but Georgia was able to come back to tie the set at 11. The score tied four times until Auburn got back-to-back points that gave it an 18-16 lead and forced Georgia to call a timeout. Auburn maintained a slight edge until a kill by Le’au tied the set at 22. Georgia scored the final three points, including the final two on Le’au aces, to take a 2-1 lead in the match with a 25-22 set three win.
    The teams battled at the start of the fourth set before a Northcutt kill gave the Bulldogs a 9-7 lead. Auburn tied the set at 10 and 11 before an error and a Northcutt kill resulted in a 13-11 lead for Georgia. The Bulldogs score consecutive points to extend its lead to 15-12 that forced Auburn to use its first timeout. Four plays and three-straight Georgia points later, Auburn used its final timeout trailing 18-13. Leading 19-15, a Northcutt kill sparked a 4-0 Georgia run that included consecutive aces by Northcutt to take a 23-15 lead. The Bulldogs allowed just two more points before a Smith kill sealed the 25-17 set four win and the match 3-1.
    Georgia returns to action on Friday, Nov. 29 at 5 p.m., when it hosts Kennesaw State in the final regular-season match of the year.


    Texas A&M Sweeps South Carolina on Senior Day
    COLLEGE STATION, Texas  – Texas A&M capped the regular season and celebrated Senior Day with a 25-22, 25-6, 25-18 victory over South Carolina this afternoon at Reed Arena.
    It was the seventh victory in the last eight outings for the Aggies, who improve to 18-11 overall and finish 10-8 in Southeastern Conference matches. South Carolina ends its season 12-19 overall, 3-15 in SEC play.
    For the Aggie seniors -- Mariah Agre, Kelsey Kinley, Heather Reynolds, Allie Sawatzky and Ashley Vrana – it was their last opportunity to play in front of the home crowd 12th Man, but they hope to don the maroon and white again next week. With A&M listed No. 32 in the NCAA Ratings Percentage Index (RPI), the Aggies are keeping their fingers crossed that they will hear their name called when the 64-team NCAA tournament bracket is announced Sunday at 8:30 p.m. on ESPNU.
    To bolster their postseason chances, the Aggies knew they needed to defeat South Carolina, a team that entered today’s contest having lost its last nine conference matches but had upset A&M earlier this season at South Carolina. The match got off to an ugly start, with the Gamecocks using a 7-1 run to take an 18-17 lead in the opening set. After exchanging points and tying the score three times, A&M managed to regain the lead at 21-20 as sophomore middle blocker Shelby Sullivan was successful on a slide attack. Sarah Blomgren evened the score for the Gamecocks with a kill, but sophomore outside hitter Angela Lowak split the South Carolina block with her next attack to put the Aggies back on top, 22-21.
    A&M, which outhit South Carolina .163 to .111 in the frame, maintained a 23-22 edge when redshirt freshman middle blocker Jazzmin Babers killed a Sawatzky back set to put the Aggies at set point. Babers then teamed with sophomore opposite hitter Sierra Patrick to block a South Carolina attack to close out the set.
    South Carolina held a narrow 4-3 lead to open the second set before A&M erupted with seven unanswered points to go up 10-4. A cross-court kill by Blomgren only temporarily stopped the streaking Aggies, who then reeled off seven more points to surge to a 17-5 lead. After a South Carolina kill, A&M then ran the table, scoring eight consecutive points to end the set, 25-6, and take a 2-0 lead in the match.
    The Gamecocks’ six points was the fewest allowed in a set this season by the Aggies, who outhit South Carolina, .577 to -.065 in the frame, posting 15 kills while allowing only five.
    After the break, A&M continued where it left off, scoring the first seven points of the third set, marking 15 consecutive points for the Aggies going back to the second set. South Carolina rallied and got within 7-5, but the Aggies countered with six straight points to go up 13-5. The Gamecocks never got closer than four points for the remainder of the set, as they were outhit .300 to .083.
    A South Carolina attack error into the net put the Aggies at match point, 24-28. A&M served into the net on the next play before freshman Darby Graff put down the match-clinching kill.
    Vrana and Lowak tied for match-high honors in kills with 10 apiece. Sullivan finished with nine kills with no errors in 13 attempts for a .692 hitting percentage as A&M outhit the Gamecocks, .312 to .054 for the match and led in kills, 45-28.
    Reynolds and Sawatzky led the Aggies in digs with 10 each, and Sawatzky also dished out 29 assists to tally her conference-leading 20th double-double. Babers led all players with four blocks.
    Juliette Thevenin, the SEC leader in kills and points per set, led South Carolina with nine kills in the final match of her Gamecock career.


    No. 4 Tigers Wrap Up Undefeated Regular Season with Sweep of Arkansas
    COLUMBIA, Mo. – The No. 4 Mizzou volleyball team became the first-ever SEC volleyball team to post an undefeated regular season after sweeping Arkansas, 3-0 (25-11, 25-16, 29-27), on Wednesday night (Nov. 27) at the Hearnes Center. The win clinches a 34-0 regular season record and a perfect 18-0 mark in SEC play. In what may be an even more impressive accomplishment, Mizzou won 102 of 110 sets played during the year and was never pushed to a fifth set. In fact, Mizzou has swept its last five matches and swept 26 of 34 matches this season. Wednesday’s win was played in front of the second-largest crowd in program history as 7,437 fans watched the Tigers clinch the perfect season. It was the second consecutive home crowd with more than 7,000 fans.
    “Now that the regular season is over and you can take time to look back, it really is an unbelievable achievement to play that well, that consistent, for that long,” head coach Wayne Kreklow said. “On another note, I am really happy that this season happened during Molly and Lisa’s senior year. Those kids have put in so much to the program and it couldn’t have been a better regular season. Undefeated, SEC Champions. Now we focus on the NCAA Tournament and hopefully we can keep this going. Trust me, this group is hungry for more.”
    It was a perfect send-off for the Tiger seniors Molly Kreklow (Delano, Minn.) and Lisa Henning (Blue Springs, Mo.). In front of nearly 8,000 fans for the second consecutive match, the senior duo won its 96th match together, the most in a four-year span in the NCAA Tournament era at Mizzou. They also capped off a season in which Mizzou reset records for wins, conference wins, consecutive wins, consecutive sweeps and wins to open a season.
    On Friday, the duo was at its best. Kreklow spread 45 assists (15.00 per set) while guiding Mizzou to .350 hitting, the 29th time in 34 matches that Mizzou has hit .300 in a match this season. Henning added 14 kills on .323 hitting with four digs in the win. Henning finishes the regular season with 472 kills on a career-best .339 hitting this season. Kreklow finishes the regular season with a national-best 12.65 assists per set and she guided a Mizzou offense that will likely finish first nationally in hitting (.362), kills per set (15.30) and assists per set (14.55).
    On Friday, the stellar performance by the Tiger seniors was aided by freshman phenom Carly Kan (Honolulu, Hawaii), who posted a team-high 15 kills on .407 hitting while pulling in 10 digs. It was her eighth double-double of the season. Junior middle Whitney Little (Keller, Texas) returned to the lineup on Wednesday and pitched in eight kills on 16 errorless attempts with three blocks. Heading into the NCAA Tournament, she needs just nine blocks to match her single season school record (139). The Tigers also got stellar play from junior libero Sarah Meister (San Diego, Calif.) who finished with a match-high 23 digs in the win as she is averaging 6.33 per set over her last three matches.
    Mizzou came out firing in the first set and hit .500 with 14 kills on just 24 attempts, led by five from Kan, who did so on .500 hitting. The Tigers ran away with the first set, 25-11. Arkansas struggled to get in a rhythm during the opening frame as it committed eight attack errors while notching just five kills. The second set was more of the same as Mizzou tallied 17 kills on 40 swings while limiting Arkansas to .049 hitting in a 25-16 set win.
    Following intermission, the Tigers found themselves in a tight set with the Razorbacks as both teams sided-out at a very efficient rate. Arkansas wound up taking a 24-23 lead despite Mizzou leading much of the set. After a Wayne Kreklow timeout, the Tigers regained the advantage and eventually put the set away, fittingly on a block by Henning and Emily Thater (Springfield, Mo.), as they won the set, 29-27.
    Mizzou, already guaranteed a spot in next month’s NCAA Tournament after winning the SEC, will find out its tournament fate on Sunday (Dec. 1). The team will host a watch party starting at 7:30 p.m. inside the Clinton Club at Mizzou Arena. 


    Crimson Tide Defeats Mississippi State in Three Sets
    STARKVILLE, Miss. – The Alabama volleyball team posted a 3-0 (25-20, 25-22, 25-23) Southeastern Conference victory over the Mississippi State Bulldogs on Wednesday night from the Newell-Grissom Building. With the win, the Crimson Tide is now 24-8 overall and 11-6 in SEC play, the Bulldogs fall to 12-20 overall, 2-15 in conference play.
    Alabama will have a chance to record its 25th win of the season when it travels to Baton Rouge, La., to take on the LSU Tigers on Saturday, with first serve scheduled for 1 p.m. CT. Saturday’s match against the Tigers will be the final regular season match for the Tide. Since re-establishing the program in 1989, the 24 wins are the most for a Crimson Tide volleyball team since 1995, when that team posted a 24-10 record.
    Alabama out-hit the Bulldogs .203 to .188, had nine blocks compared to eight by MSU, and had a 61-51 advantage in digs. The Tide had five service aces compared to four by the Bulldogs.
    Leading the Alabama offensive attack was Laura Steiner with 13 kills. It was the most kills in a match for Steiner since she had 22 kills against Troy on Sept. 21. Brittany Thomas posted her eight double-double of the season with 11 kills and 13 digs and Krystal Rivers finished the match with nine kills and a .400 hitting percentage, while adding four assisted blocks and three digs.
    Katherine White continued her consistent play of late, collecting six kills with a .400 hitting percentage, to go along with a solo block and three assisted blocks. Sierra Wilson had 42 assists, six digs, three kills and two assisted blocks, and Kryssi Daniels led the team with 14 digs.
    Mississippi State was led by Taylor Scott who had a match-high 16 kills to go along with nine digs and a pair of solo blocks and Roxanne McVey had a match-high 22 digs.
    Alabama jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the match by winning the first set 25-20. The Tide held an early 7-4 lead before MSU ran off four straight points for an 8-7 lead. Bama went on a 7-2 run to open a 14-10 lead, following a kill by Steiner. MSU cut the deficit to two at 19-17 and 20-18, before Bama closed the set with a 5-2 run, which ended with the seventh kill of the set by Steiner.
    After falling behind 16-10 in the second set, Alabama ran off eight straight points, with Thomas as the service line, to take an 18-16 lead in the set. After the Bulldogs regained its lead at 21-20, the Tide scored five of the next six points for a 25-22 win and a 2-0 lead. Bama outscored the Bulldogs 15-6 to close out the second set.
    The Tide fell behind 7-4 early in the third set and chipped away at the MSU lead, before evening the score at 16-16 following an ace by Andrea McQuaid. Alabama did not lead in the set until a solo block by White gave the Tide a 21-20 advantage. Kills by Steiner and Bria Green extended the lead to 23-20, but MSU rallied for back-to-back points to get within one. A kill by Green gave Bama match-point, and after MSU’s Dani McCree made the score 24-23, McQuaid finished the night with her third kill.


    No. 7 Gators Sweep LSU in Regular-Season Home Finale on Senior Night
    GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Friday night in the O’Connell Center was all about Gator volleyball seniors Taylor Brauneis and Chloe Mann, as a crowd of 2,626 celebrated the duo’s contributions to the Florida program in a pre-match ceremony prior to UF’s sweep against LSU (25-16, 25-19, 25-20) in the Gators’ regular-season home finale.
    Sophomore outside hitter Gabby Mallette turned in a career night with 15 kills and her third-best hitting efficiency of the season (.458), while Mann was a monster, registering her second-highest hitting percentage of the conference season (.714) with 10 errorless kills. For Mann, Friday marked her ninth SEC match with double-digit slams, thanks in part to Brauneis, who dished up 39 assists, her most since Nov. 3 at Texas A&M.
    For senior middle blocker Chloe Mann, Friday marked her fourth three-set SEC match with double-digit kills (10) and zero errors, while her .714 hitting percentage was her highest since Oct. 6 at Alabama (.737). Mann also led UF with two blocks against the Tigers
    On senior night, setter Taylor Brauneis paced UF with 39 assists, all but two for the Gators. Brauneis’ 39 marked her most in a sweep since Oct. 13 against Georgia (43)
    Sophomore outside hitter Gabby Mallette swung for 15 kills Friday evening, tying a career-best mark. Mallette’s .458 hitting efficiency was her third best in league play and on the season. Her 15 points additionally tied a career high as a Gator
    Florida has now had five or more service aces in nine of its last 11 matches. The Orange and Blue turned in six aces against the Tigers, led by a new season high from sophomore middle Simone Antwi, who contributed half (3). Classmates Živa Recek (2) and Nikki O’Rourke (1) combined for the other three
    Antwi finished the evening with seven kills, a .385 clip and one dig as well for the Orange and Blue
    Likewise, Recek registered seven kills and rallied for nine digs, second on the Gators’ squad Friday
    The sweep against LSU marked UF’s 12th of the conference slate
    Junior libero Taylor Unroe had a team-high 10 digs on the night for Florida, her second consecutive match in double digits
    Florida celebrated Mann and Brauneis just before first serve. Mann has accumulated a four-year record of 109 wins and just 16 losses donning the Orange and Blue to go with two SEC titles, while Brauneis’ two-year record is 53 wins and just three losses since transferring to UF, including helping the Gators to the 2012 SEC Championship
    The Gators hit the road for the final time in 2013 - and the regular-season finale - in Lexington next week. 


    Ole Miss Tops LSU in Season Finale
    OXFORD, Miss. – The Ole Miss volleyball team sent seniors Kellie Goss and Kara Morgan out on a high note Wednesday night. The Rebels, led by a single-match program record 61 assists from freshman setter Aubrey Edie, topped LSU 3-2 (25-23, 25-23, 20-25, 21-25, 16-14) at the Gillom Sports Center on Senior Night.
    The Rebels jumped out to a two-sets-to-none lead against the visiting Tigers, and held on to win a thrilling fifth set to close out the 2013 season.
    “It was a great win,” Ole Miss head coach Joe Getzin said. “We tweaked the lineup, and one of our seniors Kellie Goss, who has played an important role as a utility player all her career, came in off the bench and had one of the best nights of her career. Both of our seniors had a great last match. They held their emotions in check knowing it was their last match, and both of them did a great job.”
    Goss had one of the best matches of her career Wednesday, finishing with a season-high 10 kills, two block assists and a season-high two solo blocks. Morgan had seven kills of her own to go along with a dozen digs, the second highest total on the team.
    “That’s probably the best send-off I could possibly imagine,” Goss said. “It was the greatest feeling ever, and I couldn’t have done it without my teammates and coaches supporting me the whole time.”
    Edie, a native of Fayetteville, Ark., shined throughout the match in her record-breaking performance. The Southeastern Conference’s freshman assists leader, Edie passed out 10 or more assists in each set, including a whopping 15 in the second set. Edie also recorded a team-high and career-high tying 16 digs for her team-high eighth double-double of the season – the second most in the SEC among rookies.
    Freshman right side hitter Melanie Crow and sophomore middle blocker Nakeyta Clair each recorded 18 kills to lead the Ole Miss attack. Sophomore middle blocker Ty Laporte was close behind with 16 kills on an impressive .500 hitting percentage.
    In all, four Rebels finished with double-digit kills, and five Rebels had double-digit digs.
    Ole Miss came out strong in the match’s opening set, taking a 13-7 lead before LSU used it first timeout. LSU fought back to tie the match at 21 and again at 22, but the Rebels closed out the set on a 3-1 run from there to take a 1-0 lead in the match.
    Ole Miss doubled its lead to 2-0 in the match with another strong performance in the second set in which it hit at a .405 clip as a team. Freshmen Crow (six kills) and Edie (15 assists) led Ole Miss in the set that featured a dozen ties. After taking a 13-9 lead that prompted the Tigers to call their first timeout, Ole Miss found itself in a bit of déjà vu for remainder of the set. With the score again featuring ties at 21 and at 22, the Rebels showed their will once more by closing the set out on another 3-1 run to again win 25-23.
    Following wins by LSU (17-12, 7-10 SEC) in sets three and four, Ole Miss regrouped to win a thrilling fifth set 16-14. After LSU staved off three match points to tie the set at 14 points apiece, Ole Miss scored the final two points to win in extra points, 16-14.
    “We have been in that situation where we have been up 2-0 on people and we haven’t taken care of business,” Getzin said. “We were intense throughout and kept putting pressure on them.”
    Ole Miss (14-17, 4-14 SEC) was led this season by Clair, who was first on the team in kills (2.64 kills per set), hitting percentage (.289) and blocks (1.14 blocks per set). Clair put together one of the best blocking seasons at Ole Miss in the rally scoring era this year. The Country Club Hills, Ill., native broke the program’s single-season record for block assists (105) and total blocks (130), and finished second in solo blocks (25).
    Edie passed out 949 assists this season (9.21 per set), which is the fourth highest total in single-season history at Ole Miss during the rally scoring era, and the highest mark ever by a rookie at Ole Miss.
    Morgan closes out her career with 117 matches played, including starts in all but eight of those matches. Morgan’s name can be found in the program’s career top-10 in kills, attempts, digs and service aces. Her 311 kills as a junior are the third most in Ole Miss single-season history, while her 30 service aces last season and 29 service aces this season are the first and second most, respectively, in single-season program history.