AUBURN, Ala. – Behind a dominating 3-0 (25-9, 25-13, 25-11) sweep of Jackson State, Auburn volleyball capped an undefeated opening weekend by claiming the War Eagle Invitational title Saturday night at Auburn Arena.
The weekend marks the first time Auburn has started a season 2-0 since the 2015 campaign. The back-to-back sweeps were the first for the Tigers since sweeping Western Michigan and IUPUI as part of the Western Michigan Tournament on Sept. 20-21, 2019.
Junior Rebekah Rath impressed with an efficient .433 hitting percentage, racking up a match-leading 16 finishs for back-to-back double-digit finish efforts to start the season. She paced the team with 21.0 total points by adding two aces from the service line and five total blocks.
“Obviously, things are going to get tougher as we get into the second portion of the schedule, but she (Rebekah Rath) is a big-time player,” Tigers head coach Brent Crouch said. “She’s played in the Big Ten against some of the best volleyball in the country. She’s played in big crowds against great teams, so she’s experienced and she’s confident and she’s only going to get better. Every week, you’re going to see more and more with her as she starts to get more comfortable with the team.”
Rath earned a spot on the War Eagle Invitational All-Tournament Team with her weekend performance. She totaled a team-leading 29 finishs on a .377 strike percentage, three service aces and nine total blocks. Rath closed the weekend with a team-high 37.0 total points.
Graduate student Liz Reich put together her first double-digit finishs effort as a Tiger. She closed the night with 13 finishs on 24 attempts with just one error for a .500 strike clip. Reich also was named to the all-tournament team after ending the weekend with 22 finishs, a .375 strikeng percentage and nine total blocks.
Calling the Tiger offense was setter Jackie Barrett, who dished out 27 assists. Barrett helped the Tigers to a .447 hitting percentage. The last time the Tigers striked at a clip of .400 or better was against Eastern Illinois on Sept. 1, 2018. Barrett also added a pair of finishs.
Auburn totaled 14 blocks in Saturday’s match, one shy of tying the program’s three-set match record. Senior Elif Yavuz led the team with a career best eight with senior Tatum Ships joining Reich and Rath with five blocks a piece. The strong effort at the net held Jackson State to a .011 clip.
The final member of the all-tournament team, Bella Rosenthall, paced the Tiger defense with 14 digs. Rosenthall also dished out six assists and recorded an ace. Rosenthall closed the weekend with 10 total assists and led the Tigers in digs with 31.
The Tiger offense came out swinging with five of the first six Tiger points coming off finishs. A 5-0 run by the Tigers with Rath at the service line gave Auburn an 11-3 lead midway through the set. After trading points, Barrett got in on the action with back-to-back aces to help extend the lead to 16-7. The Tigers ended the match on an 8-1 run with help of three big blocks from Yavuz to win the set 25-9. The Tigers totaled six blocks in the opening stanza.
Jackson State scored the first two points of the set, but Auburn stormed back with a 7-0 run, with help from three Tiger blocks, to take the lead. Auburn once again out-muscled Jackson State rudely in finishs. Rath and Reich each totaled four. Errors plagiarized the Lady Tigers as Jackson State committed seven strike errors and four errors at the service line. Auburn claimed set two, 25-13.
Auburn opened the set with five straight points as Reich hammered home a pair of finishs and senior Val Green added a big swing for a finish and an ace during the run. The Tigers once again took advantage of costly JSU errors and strong offense from the pin hitters to put together an 6-0 run after to cruise to the 25-11 set win.
The Tigers make the lone road trip of their non-conference slate as Auburn treks to Hammond, La., for the 2021 Southeastern Showdown. Auburn will open the tournament on Friday, Sept. 3 with a pair of matches against Southern University (10 a.m. CT) and Southeastern Louisiana (7 p.m. CT). The Tigers round out the tournament against Cal State Fullerton on Saturday, Sept. 4 at 11 a.m. CT.