PHOTO CREDIT: Alex De La Osa/UAA Communications

Gator Volleyball Pays Visit to Last Place Auburn

Last time the Gators dropped a match, they rattled off 10 straight wins. They have the chance to start another streak on the Plains.

The 15th-ranked Florida Gators face the cellar-dwelling Auburn Tigers Wednesday night. After seeing their 10-match win streak snapped, the Gators need a rebound win to keep pace Kentucky for a share of the SEC lead.

This match with Auburn is Florida’s penultimate road match of the season. Florida’s road schedule concludes on Sunday against Georgia.

The last time Florida and Auburn met, the Gators swept Rick Nold’s squad in Gainesville on Sept. 27. Florida hit a season-high .427 and held Auburn to a season-low -.041 that night.

Gators Take a Dip

Florida’s loss to the Wildcats on Sunday resulted in a drop in the rankings. Mary Wise’s team entered the match 11th in the AVCA Coaches Poll and dropped to 15 when the new rankings came out.

Additionally, the Gators fell from sixth in the country in RPI to ninth.

Kentucky moved up from 17 to one spot above the Gators at 14 and jumped from 13th in RPI to eighth, also one spot above Florida.

Scouting the Tigers

By the numbers, Auburn is the worst team in the league. They are the worst-rated RPI team at 221 and sit at the bottom of the SEC at 0-14. The last time Auburn went winless in the SEC was 0-16 in 2002 under Laura Farina.

Also, Nold’s team has lost 18 straight sets going into this match with Florida.

They rank near the bottom in almost every major category:

  • Hitting percentage: .153 (Last)
  • Assists per set: 10.40 (Last)
  • Kills per set/total kills: 11.32/883 (Last)
  • Total blocks per set: 1.97 (Second-to-last)

However, the Tigers do only allow an opposing hitting efficiency of .202 (seventh) and an average of 14.33 digs per set (fourth).

They give plenty of attack opportunities to sophomore outside hitter Tatum Shipes. She has nearly double the number of swings as the next closest player at over 740 and leads the team with 220 kills.

Auburn’s best among qualified players hitting efficiency-wise is middle blocker Chesney McClellan at .224. Shipes and McClellan also rank second and third on the team respectively in blocks. Shipes has 67 on the year while McClellan has 59.

Florida is still in the hunt for a share of the SEC title so they can’t take Auburn lightly no matter what the numbers say about them.

About Jake Hitt

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