Dec. 2, 2010

LINCOLN, Neb. - The Auburn volleyball team opened the 2010 NCAA Tournament with a 3-0 (25-15, 26-24, 27-25) victory over Missouri State Thursday at the NU Coliseum on the campus of Nebraska University. The Tigers, who are competing in the program's first ever NCAA tournament, improved to 21-12 on the season with the victory. The 21 total victories are the most the team has earned since the 1998 season. "We are really excited to get Auburn's first NCAA victory in the program's first appearance in the tournament," head coach Wade Benson said. "We knew we wouldn't be satisfied if we didn't open with a win and our solid play proved that. Missouri State put up a great fight in the final two sets, but we weren't going to give up." Sophomore Sarah Bullock led all attackers with 12 kills, while senior Morgan Johns finished with 10 kills to lead the Tigers. Camila Jersonsky put up solid numbers as the freshman tied the Auburn three-set record with nine total blocks. She also finished with five kills and hit .500 at the net. Johns and Bullock each added four blocks for Auburn. "Coming out and winning in three sets is a big boost for the team," Johns said. "We're going to come back tomorrow ready to have some fun and just enjoy the experience." Senior libero Liz Crouch had a match-best 18 digs, while junior Kelly Fidero finished with eight kills. Setters Christina Solverson and Chelsea Wintzinger had 25 and 13 assists, respectively.

Missouri State (21-10) was led by Calli Norman, who finished with eight kills and four blocks. Setter Carly Thomas had 21 assists and Cara Hackmann and Abby Padlock recorded 13 and 10 digs, respectively. Down 3-2 in the first set, a kill by Johns triggered a five-point Auburn rally to give the Tigers a 7-3 lead. At 11-7, the Tigers put together another run to take a 14-7 advantage and a kill by Solverson with a service ace from Wintzinger put Auburn up at 17-9. A kill from Jersonsky solidified the 25-15 set one victory for the Tigers. Missouri State jumped out to a 6-2 advantage in the second set, but a pair of Missouri State attack errors and a service ace from Fidero brought Auburn within a point at 7-6. A five-point Tiger run gave Auburn its first lead at 12-10, however the Bears came back to lock the set at 12 apiece. Back-to-back blocks from Jersonsky and Jonelle Wallace and a block by Jersonsky and Bullock pushed Auburn to a 21-18 lead. Missouri State fought back and set the score at 24-24, but the Tigers pulled away with a 26-24 win. A pair of kills from Bullock and two from Johns gave the Tigers a 4-1 lead to start the third set. A kill from Jersonsky triggered a three-point Auburn rally to push the team ahead at 9-3, but a Missouri State rally brought the Bears within two at 10-8 and another Missouri State run gave the Bears a 14-12 lead. The Tigers utilized a run of its own to regain the lead at 18-15, but the Bears battled back to lock the set at 23 apiece. Down 25-24, Auburn rattled off the final three points to win the set 27-25. The Tigers will face the winner between No. 2 Nebraska and Sacred Heart Friday at 7 p.m. in the NU Coliseum. Live stats and free video streaming will be available.