Auburn, Ala. (Sep. 3, 2004) - The East Tennessee State volleyball squad opened their season this evening against SEC powerhouse Auburn at the Mizuno/Auburn challenge with a 3-0 loss at the hands of the Tigers. AU freshman Whitney Jacob put a kill down the line off of a pass from classmate Jordan Elliott to get the season started and then also hammered home the final kill in game three. The Tigers won 30-25, 30-28, 30-23, marking the first time since the 2000 season that AU has opened the season with a victory.
"We played very well for our first match of the 2004 season. We have many newcomers to our squad and the total team effort tonight was great to see," head coach Lindsey Devine said. "We have set the bar for a tough and competitive season and look forward to rest of the year."
The Lady Bucs were led by Sara Scandiffio (Purcellvill, Va.) who posted 12 kills adding seven digs and three block assists in the three game set, while Jennifer Sartor (Toronto, Canada) and freshman Callie Kiselich (Colorado Springs, Co.) each added seven kills on the night. At the net, ETSU managed nine blocks matching the defensive effort by the Tigers.
Freshman Rachel Shanks led the Tigers with 11 kills while Elliott hoisted 34 assists in her collegiate debut. Jacob finished with nine kills on 20 attacks with just one error for a .400 hitting percentage. Senior Ashlee Johns picked up where she left off last season, posting 10 kills to go along with a team-high 13 digs for the eighth double-double in her Auburn career.
"This was a good win for us," AU Coach Laura Farina said. "Jordan Elliott did an exceptional job of running the offense and Whitney also played very well. It was good to get some of the first-match jitters out of the way for our freshmen. Tonight was a very good sign."
The Auburn crowd of over 500 saw the first season-opening victory in Farina's six-year career. The crowd was also treated to a mini comeback by the Tigers, who found themselves down by three points, 27-24, in game two before rallying to tie the game at 28-all and winning on a Johns ace.
The Mizuno/Auburn Challenge will conclude with two sessions on Saturday. The first session will feature Iowa State vs. East Tennessee State at 10 a.m. CT followed by Auburn vs. Birmingham Southern at noon. The afternoon session will put ETSU and BSC against each other at 5 p.m. and then AU and ISU in a 7 p.m. match. Admission to all matches is free.