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The Official Website of the Southeastern Conference

No. 23 Auburn holds off South Carolina in five sets

36 days ago
Auburn Athletics
Photo: Auburn Athletics

AUBURN, Ala. - Career nights up and down the scoresheet, a landmark victory for head coach Brent Crouch and extra points in both the fourth and fifth sets. Yes, just your normal Sunday on the Plains.

No. 23 Auburn Volleyball (15-5, 5-4) captured yet another five-set thriller over South Carolina (8-10, 2-7) in front of raucous Neville Arena crowd (25-22, 19-25, 25-24, 24-26, 17-15).

It took a moment for the Tigers to settle into the opening set. Senior setter Jackie Barrett ran an offense that hit .289 in the opening frame as Madison Scheer laid down four kills while Kyla Swanson and Bella Bell each collected three.

Barrett would finish the night with 47 assists, leapfrogging the Highland, California product into fifth all-time in Auburn history.

Trailing 10-14 at the midway point, it was the aggressive serving from Sydney Handel, Chelsey Harmon and Barrett that turned the tide for the Orange and Blue. Harmon and Barrett each collected an ace while the Tigers did their best to keep South Carolina out of system.

Meanwhile, Paige Thibault stepped into the limelight at libero, once again showing the depth of the roster that has seen multiple injuries this season. Thibault chased down nine digs in the opening set and would finish with a career-best 21 on the afternoon.

Swanson and Scheer combined for a momentum-swinging block to tie the set at 21 and Auburn never looked back. Bell and Scheer didn't miss the rest of the way as the Tigers closed out the first frame to take the early lead.

Tough serving from the Gamecocks made it difficult for Auburn to gain any rhythm in the second stanza. Even when Bel Zimmerman conjured up one of her patented scoring runs from the service line, the Tigers still found themselves playing from behind.

In the end, South Carolina hit .226 to go along with three aces to tie the match up at a set apiece.

To say the start of the third set wasn't ideal might've been an understatement. Stuck in the same rotation, South Carolina opened up on an 8-1 run.

However, Crouch's crew showed no signs of panic. Methodically, the Tigers began to claw their way back. An Akasha Anderson kill here, a Zimmerman ace there and all of a sudden it was game on as Auburn trailed by only one halfway through, 14-15.

Barrett's distribution was the best of the match, particularly late as Auburn swung for .448 in the third. Anderson and Scheer combined for six kills as the Tigers would close out the set to take the lead for the second time Sunday afternoon.

The fourth frame proved to be a knock-down drag-out fight once more. Scheer piled up eight more kills on her way to a career-high 24 on .333 hitting.

Three aces from the away side, though, plus unforced errors from the Tigers allowed South Carolina to steal the set in extra points, sending the match into a fifth set for the third time in as many meetings.

Tensions were at an all-time high in the fifth, and when tensions rise, so do Crouch's teams.

Transfers Kyla Swanson and Bella Bell were determined to prevent South Carolina from finding a kill. The duo each collected four blocks in the fifth set alone. Swanson would finish with a career-high 11 blocks, Bell added six and Kendal Kemp was close behind with five.

Even when Auburn trailed, 9-11, the Tiger defense stood strong to help swing the momentum back to the Orange and Blue. Thibault and Handel came up with huge digs, keeping points alive as the match drifted into extra points. On the fourth match point, Kemp had enough and rejected the final Gamecock attack, solidifying another dramatic win over South Carolina.

The victory also marked Crouch's 50th on the plains, becoming the fastest coach to do so in the rally-scoring era.


Head Coach Brent Crouch's opening statement...

"Really gutsy performance. We've got a lot of challenges right now health-wise. We talked about it before the match. I told them I really believe in this team and I believe in how they lift each other up and compete hard in practice all the way down through the roster. I knew that we were going to play really hard and for each other. That's what they did. It wasn't perfect all the time but it was really good in enough stretches to get the win."

Paige Thibault on her career night...

"Ultimately, I think it came back to the relationships on this team. It wasn't just me out there doing that, it was everyone around me, believing in me. Like coach said, we had a lot of kids step up tonight. I don't want to put the spotlight on myself but give everyone the glory they deserve because they helped me do what I needed to do to fulfill that role and that job."


  • Auburn's 58 assists were the most in a match this season
  • The Tigers' eight aces were the most since grabbing nine against South Carolina on Oct. 8, 2023
  • Madison Scheer's 24 kills were a career-high and the first time she's eclipsed the 20-kill mark this season
  • Akasha Anderson (12 kills, 14 digs) grabbed her fifth double-double of the year
  • Kyla Swanson set a new career-high with 11 blocks
  • Jackie Barrett (47 assists, 10 digs) notched her team-leading 11th double-double
  • Barrett also moved into fifth all-time in Auburn history in assists. She's now just 544 assists behind fourth all-time (Mary Orndorff).
  • Paige Thibault registered new career-highs in digs (21) and assists (9)
  • Sydney Handel's two aces were the most she's recorded this season and the most since putting down three in the NCAA Tournament last December against Houston


Another road trip is on the docket for the Tigers as Auburn heads to Athens on Friday, Oct. 27 for a matchup with Georgia. The team will follow up with a second rivalry bout with Alabama on Sunday, Oct. 29. Auburn returns home on Nov. 8 for a date with Kentucky.