It took a couple of matches for junior middle blocker Camila Jersonsky to get her feet back under her as the 2012 season tipped off last weekend at the Green Bay Tournament in Wisconsin.
But in the end, the Tigers came home from the season-opening trip with a 3-0 record and the tournament title — while Jersonsky was named to the all-tournament team and recognized as Tournament MVP.
The Tigers defeated Central Michigan, 3-2, Drake, 3-0, and tournament-host Wisconsin-Green Bay, 3-0. Jersonsky finished the tournament with 33 kills.
“She’s a great player,” said Auburn volleyball head coach Rick Nold. “One of the things that we had seen in some scouting is that she might have some opportunities. We kind of changed from our normal offense and really tried to get a lot of our attacking through her, and she did a great job.”
Jersonsky finished with 9 kills in the tournament-opener against Central Michigan and 6 kills in the weekend’s second match against Drake, before recording a career-high 18 kills against Wisconsin-Green Bay.
“I thought I played just ‘good enough’ in the first two games,” said Jersonsky. “But in the last one, we found the connection back with the setters. We were kind of lost. We weren’t connecting in the first two games. But in the last one, when we really got it, we were getting one-on-one in the middle, and that was the way to win the game. It was really exciting for me to finally get the connection back and get the team to 3-0.”
Jersonsky’s strong play in the middle also spread the court for the Tigers, providing opportunities for her teammates including senior leader and fellow all-tournament teamer Sarah Bullock.
“In the last game she just came out and finally got that connection with the setters, which I know she had been kind of working on in the first two games,” said Bullock. “They were struggling. There was a lot of whiff balls and not a lot of kills there. Finally, in that last game, she just came alive.
“She definitely played the way I know she can play. That’s the Camila I know and the Camila she’ll be in SEC’s. It helped me out, and it helped the other hitters out, because it definitely spread the block, because they had to stay on Camila. Then I had holes to hit, and my right-side had holes to hit.”
Junior libero Sarah Wroblicky finished the tournament with 61 digs, also earning all-tournament honors alongside Bullock and Jersonsky.
“I’d say, for Cammy, she did really well the whole time,” Wroblicky said. “But it was with getting combined efforts of getting the pass actually there, and then the setter being smart and seeing where the other blockers were, and getting her one-one-one. I think Cammy was really good with seeing where the defense was and just banging balls. It was awesome.”
In the tournament finale against Green Bay, the Tigers trailed by as much as 7 in the first set and by as much as 6 in the second set before rallying back to take both on their way to the 3-0 victory. In the opener against Central Michigan, Auburn fell in its first set of the season before coming back to win the match, 3-2.
“The first time out, you’re trying to see things that you’re ready for and things that you’re not ready for,” Nold said. “The teams we played were all very competitive, and that’s what we were looking for in that situation. We’re really happy with how, when we got in some tight situations, we really battled back.”
Today, the Tigers will turn their attention to a noon showdown with Georgia Southern, as Auburn hosts this weekend’s War Eagle Invitational tournament.
“The things we have been doing are working,” Nold said. “We’re just trying to make sure we’re improving every week. Teams will come in here that will give us a good challenge and test us in a lot of different ways. But a lot of it, we’re just trying to focus on ourselves and make the improvements so that when we go into conference play we’ll be ready to go.”
After the season’s home-opener at noon, the Tigers will turn around and play again at 7 p.m. in a matchup against the High Point Panthers later Friday. This weekend’s tournament will be the Tigers their first opportunity to play in front of a home crowd.
“I am stoked,” Bullock said. “I love our fans, I love the home crowd. It’s awesome. They get crazy, and it helps us a lot. We love playing at home because our gym is one of those gyms where the noise and atmosphere is just so crazy, other teams hate to play there. They hate to come to Auburn and play us in our own gym just because our fans are loud, they pump us up, and we perform that much better when we are home. I can’t wait.”
Auburn will close the tournament on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. against Jacksonville State.
“There’s definitely a different energy in the gym when we’re at home,” Nold said. “You know, it’s something you hope to teach for when we’re on the road — to use that energy that’s against you in your favor. But there’s no doubt, when you’re at home, there’s a lot of comfort there. We’ve got great fans, so the girls love the support.”
Jacksonville State tips off the tournament at 10 a.m. today against High Point, before taking on Georgia Southern later at 5 p.m. Georgia Southern and High Point will play each other at 11 a.m. Saturday.
Each match will take place at the Student Activity Center, near Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum. Admission is free for all six matches of the tournament.
“I’m so excited to play at home again,” said Jersonsky, seeking all-tournament honors for the second weekend in a row. “It’s nice. It feels like so long ago that we played at home.
“I’m really excited to be playing in front of the Auburn Family.”
Photo by Anthony Hall.
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