Volleyball preps for home tournamentBy Ben Boynton | 09/08/2016 2:08am
Shannon Mikesky goes for a serve during a game against Samford.
CW / Marie Walker
That’s not to say the team didn’t sneak a little bit of sightseeing into their busy schedule. After all, it’s not every day one visits Puerto Rico. The team traveled back home Sunday night but spent some time earlier in the day touring Old San Juan and doing some shopping.
“We actually got a guided bus tour for a little while, then we got set free to walk to some of the tourist shops,” redshirt freshman setter Shannon Mikesky said. “They have amazing seafood, and it was really fun. Coach always makes it fun like that. It was business first ... we stayed focused and then we had our time at the end to relax and enjoy it.”
The Crimson Tide is 5-2 after a 2-1 stint in the Puerto Rico Clasico, with wins against Virginia Tech and Temple and a five set loss to then-No. 16 Florida State. The Crimson Tide got down to business during its time in Puerto Rico, playing the matches from Thursday to Saturday and practicing or doing homework in the hotel when they weren’t on the floor.
The team certainly enjoyed its time exploring Puerto Rico, but they were more pleased with how they played in their matches. The players saw two five set matches, only winning one of them, but rallied in several sets and came away happy with their effort.
“I was honestly really happy with our performance there,” Mikesky said. “We knew going in that was going to be a tough weekend. I think everyone was a little nervous, but once we stepped on the court it didn’t matter what their jerseys said. We just played as hard as we could. Even though we came up with a loss against Florida State ... the way we played, that’s something to be proud of.”
Coach Ed Allen felt similarly pleased with the team’s resilience.
“If you say you’re going to come back 2-1, obviously we would prefer to come back 3-0, we felt like we were in position to be 3-0 ... but I felt we played well in the match [against Florida State],” Allen said. “I thought we played well in the match, as strong a match as we’ve played all season long against probably the best competition that we’ve played to this point. I thought we did a good job of battling, particularly from behind.”
It was an especially strong weekend for redshirt senior middle blocker Krystal Rivers as she contributed 75 kills over the three matches and was named SEC Offensive Player of the Week for her efforts.
“She’s done a great job in terms of taking care of the ball as an attacker,” Allen said. “I think she can continue to develop some of her shots, working on trying to get inside to block a little more and pressure the right side of the floor defensively. She did a brilliant job at the service line ... really pressuring back there and serving for high consistency.”
Rivers felt that her teammates deserved their share of credit for her level of play.
“It speaks a lot for the team, they were giving me great balls,” Rivers said. “I know Shannon was giving me great balls, and at one point I looked at (junior libero) Natalie (Murison) and thought she was a setter with the way she was hitting me some balls. I think it speaks a lot towards the growth of the team and my growth as a hitter.”
This weekend, the Crimson Tide will host a tournament of its own after playing in two on the road so far. It will host the Hampton Inn Bama Bash, with matches against Northwestern State, Southern Miss and Lehigh. Northwestern State will play Alabama at 10 a.m. Friday morning, and Southern Miss will be at 7 p.m. before the Crimson Tide wraps up the weekend against Lehigh Saturday morning at 11 a.m.