Volleyball gets victory over Volunteers in four sets

Senior Sierra Wilson was in Target Friday afternoon when an Alabama volleyball fan came up to her and asked, “Are you guys going to win tonight?”

The Crimson Tide answered its Target fan with a 3-1 win over the Tennessee Volunteers that night.

Being recognized outside of Foster Auditorium meant a lot to Wilson.

“That just means so much to know these people really care about how you’re doing and what you’re doing for the University,” Wilson said.

There was a big turn out for the match despite the rain outside. The team already loves Foster Auditorium on its own, but when it’s full, it’s even better.

“It’s one of the greatest environments in the SEC, and it’s great to get a win in front a crowd,” junior Krystal Rivers said. “It keeps them coming.”

During its first set against the Volunteers, Alabama hit 0.450 with 22 total kills. The two teams were tied up four times, but Alabama only allowed Tennessee the lead twice and never fell behind more than four points. It finished the first set with a 25-21 win.

Momentum was in the hands of the Crimson Tide during the second set. Tennessee tied up the score twice but never was able to pull ahead. Even though the team hit 0.184, not nearly as high as set one, Alabama won 25-22, giving it a 2-0 advantage in the match.

Then, in set three, Rivers said things got tight and hit a lull.

The beginning wasn’t much different from the previous two sets. Alabama consistently held the lead, until Tennessee tied it up at 15-15. The two teams were back-and-forth until the very end. As they reached higher scores, it was only a matter of who could score two in a row to finish the set.

They were tied up at 20-20 and a number of times after until Tennessee finished it after an Alabama error and a kill by one of its own. The Volunteers took set three 27-25, forcing Alabama to go into a fourth.

“We know we should have won that set, but we didn’t,” Rivers said. “So we just had to come out in the fourth, and I think we came out in the fourth, we played our game, and we played well.”

The fourth set was similar to the first set of the night. Rivers said the team executed well and stayed calm even after losing that third set. Alabama took the lead from the start and while the Volunteers may have taken it back twice, the Crimson Tide never fell behind by more than two points. A kill by Rivers gave Alabama a 24-18 lead and then after an error by Tennessee, Alabama won 25-18, taking the match, 3-1.

It was still nice to finish in four instead of five.

“Well I’ve definitely been burning a lot of calories with those five set matches,” Wilson said. “So it’s not necessarily a bad thing, it’s good training for our minds when you get down to crunch time in the fifth set, but I think also it shows a lot when you can beat a team in less than five sets – that you can be that decisive to pull of the win.”

Coach Ed Allen said he was happy with how the team played Friday, especially with consistency he saw from his hitters. While there are still some things it needs to improve on defensively, he’s happy with the results since this match marked the second time this season Alabama has won two matches in a row. The first time was its wins against Mississippi State followed by Alabama State.

Allen said sophomore Kat Hutson stood out because she’s been physically beat up this season but was still able to lead Alabama hitting 0.422 with 24 kills.

“Just impressive numbers for a kid that had a difficult time just practicing,” Allen said.

He was also please with how Rivers hit at right side, said she’s grown more confident, consistent and comfortable in that position as the season progresses.

Rivers finished with a match high of 26 kills and hit 0.408.

“It’s great because I’ve really been working on swinging high, using my jumping and touching ability while trying to make smart shots,” Rivers said. “I think I did a good of that [Friday]. I think all of our hitters did a good job of that [Friday]. All of us did a great job [Friday].”

Rivers had many line shots at right side that Tennessee was unable to defend successfully.

At setter, Wilson hit double digits with assists as usual, 62, but she also hit double digits with her digs. Defensively, Wilson contributed 12 digs.

“I like to think I’m a little rounded, so to have that show on paper, it’s an accomplishment for me because it’s something I’ve been working hard on,” Wilson said. “I want to be able to help my team in any way I can.”

Wilson and the rest of the Alabama volleyball team will be back in Foster Auditorium Sunday as it hosts South Carolina at 2 p.m. The match can also be watched live on the SEC Network.

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