Auburn volleyball opens spring season with pair of tournaments

AUBURN, AL– The Auburn volleyball team, fresh off its first-ever appearance in the NCAA Tournament last season, hit the road the past two weekends for tournaments as the Tigers continue through the spring practice period. Central Florida hosted its second-annual Spring Fling Tournament in Orlando on March 26 while LSU hosted its LSU Spring Tournament on April 2.

Auburn competed in six matches in Orlando in the 15-team tournament. The Tigers defeated both Florida State and South Florida 2-0 and tied with Miami, 1-1. Auburn also tied against host UCF and Flagler, but fell 2-0 (25-23, 25-23) to Southeastern Conference-rival Florida. Florida State, South Florida and Florida were each 2010 NCAA Tournament participants.

"It is always good to play as many high level opponents as possible during the spring and put our players in a position to grow and learn the responsibility of their roles," Auburn associate head coach Jozsef Forman said. "This year, five seniors will graduate and it is great to see how fast this new team is growing and building confidence through our practices and tournaments.

"Every spring brings fresh energy, new challenges and leadership on the team. Our job is to manage our team in the right direction and build great chemistry on and off the court."

While in Orlando, the Tigers utilized three different lineups. Forman used the A lineup against Florida State, Miami and Florida, and used the B and C lineups in the other matches in order to give experience to the players that did not compete as much during the 2010 season.

"We've been doing really well in practice, and these past two weekends gave us a chance to see how we stood against other teams early in the year," Auburn outside hitter Katherine Culwell said. "We all got a lot of playing time and grew much closer to each other. I'm really excited about where we are headed."

The A lineup consisted of Kelly Fidero and Sarah Bullock at outside hitter, Camila Jersonsky and Courtney McDonald at middle position, Sarah Wroblicky at libero and Culwell and Petra Csengeri at right side.

"The spring tournaments turned out to be pretty intense," Jersonsky said. "We are playing at a high level and having a lot of fun. We played against good teams, and we have shown that we can play anyone as equals."

At LSU, Auburn defeated Southern Mississippi twice, as well as defeating Louisiana-Lafayette, Nicholls State, Southeastern Louisiana and Southern by scores of 2-0. The Tigers fell to LSU in both matches.

"It was fun to watch how the team responded, battled and grew under pressure," Auburn assistant coach Edgard da Gama e Silva said. "We were also pleased with our enthusiasm, discipline and attitude that we represented on the court. We were proud of our team and Auburn volleyball is driving in the right direction."

The Tigers return to practice this week before traveling to Murfreesboro, Tenn., on Saturday for a tournament hosted by Middle Tennessee State.

INFORMATION SOURCE: Auburn University Athletics