Sierra Wilson has a school record, big dreams and a chance to get one more victory at Alabama

Sierra Wilson has a school record, big dreams and a chance to get one more victory at Alabama
Layton Dudley / Alabama Crimson White

Sierra Wilson set the program assist record with her 5,581 career assists Sunday, Nov. 15, 2015.  CW File

The setter is the quarterback of a volleyball team and as a senior, Sierra Wilson has filled that position ever since she started her first match in a crimson and white uniform bearing that Alabama “A” over four years ago on Aug. 24, 2012 in a game that she finished with 32 assists.

“She’s a kid who’s come in and really done a great deal to change the landscape of the program,” coach Ed Allen said. “She’s done nothing but elevate the program here since match one, year one.”

Wilson started playing volleyball at the age of 10, choosing it over basketball. She was a hitter for her first two years because she thought she wanted to be the one to attack the ball and finish the play, but Wilson realized she was wrong.

Her coaches had always told her she had good hands so she made the switch to setter. Wilson got really into it right away and worked hard. She took private lessons and quickly perfected her technique.

“I really like how the game is set up,” she said. “It’s not just pass set, spike. There’s definitely a method behind the madness.”

A lot of that method and madness comes from the setter, the playmaker of the court, and partially why Wilson fell in love with the position so quickly. Wilson has to read the other team’s defense, look at the match-ups between her hitters and the blockers on the other side of the net and because things can change in a second, she has to be aware and ready to adjust at all times.

But she likes being involved in every play – or at least she’s supposed to be.

“With setting, if anyone else touches the second ball without me telling that, they’re in trouble,” Wilson said.

Except, she’s not the loudest one on the court. Wilson admits that she’s not much of an extrovert and would rather do things behind the scenes than be put in the spotlight, another reason she’s a setter now instead of a hitter.

Wilson has done a much better job of being a vocal leader this year, Allen said. She’s an extremely hard worker and when asked to be more vocal, she started to do just that.

“We’ve really put a lot of pressure on her to do that,” Allen said. “This team obviously has to have a leader and she’s the most equipped to do that.”

Wilson has been a leader all along, but before she was more of a lead-by-example type.

Junior Krystal Rivers, who came in with Wilson four years ago but redshirted her freshman year, knows how hard Wilson has worked towards being more a local leader and has stepped out of her comfort zone in order to do so. The team has found a leader in its setter.

“She has this air about her that makes you kind of want to pay attention to her, especially when she talks,” Rivers said.

Being a leader has allowed Wilson to do the one thing she likes to do most – slow a game down. She gets to decide the tempo of the game and be in control. Over time, she said her ability to do this has improved and she’s never as frazzled as she used to be when she first started playing as a setter.

It’s not all work, no play for Wilson.

She may be cool, calm and collected, but she still knows how to relax and have fun. It’s just in her own unique way.

“It’s kind of funny because it’s goofy but it’s still serious, calm and collected,” Rivers said.

The two have always been close but this year, they’ve grown even closer.

With Wilson being a double major in English and political science with a minor in women’s studies, she loves to talk about current events, politics and social issues. She gets really fired up about those topics and it’s one of those times that her cool, calm and collectedness gets set aside and she can get in really heated debates.

Rivers normally jumps in on those conversations and is also normally on Wilson’s side. They’ve been able to form a bond over their similar viewpoints.

“We’ve built a connection on the court as well a connection off the court so it’s going to be really weird [when Wilson graduates],” Rivers said.

That connection is key between a setter and a hitter. Wilson has built a connection with all of her hitters, which has led to her success in assists.

During this season’s match against Auburn on Nov. 15, Wilson set a new record in career assists. She surpassed Brigitte Slack’s record of 5, 578 assists set back in 2007. After Wednesday’s match against Ole Miss, Wilson is at 5,728 career assists.

She was also named CoSIDA/Capital One First Team Academic All-American last year, which Allen said is one of the highest honors she could receive as a college athlete.

After graduating, Wilson plans to play overseas then head to law school. Her teammates expect her to become the president of the U.S. one day, but Wilson isn’t as convinced.

“That’s about as far as I have it figured out – not the White House just yet,” she said. “I don’t think the country is ready for me quite yet.”

Maybe one day, but for now, senior night is on her mind – Alabama’s last game of its regular season. It’s Friday against LSU in Foster Auditorium at 7 p.m.

Rivers said she’s going to miss Wilson, but to the setter herself, reality still hasn’t sunk in just yet. It’s not the end. It’s just one more match to play.

“It hasn’t hit me yet,” Wilson said. “I’m really trying to savor the moment, make it last.”

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