Volleyball prioritizes school work with busy schedule

Volleyball prioritizes school work with busy schedule

CW / Marie Walker

The Alabama volleyball team has a schedule that includes at least one match on every day of the week throughout its season, except Monday.

The team will play a total of 31 matches before any postseason play. Seventeen of them fall on weekdays, and 11 of those are on the road. The travel can make it difficult to keep up on schoolwork, but the Crimson Tide has a system in place to keep the players caught up in class.

“I think we all do a really great job of staying on top of our work,” junior libero Natalie Murison said. “[Our professors], they’re all really good with helping us.”

At the beginning of the season, the players get a travel letter to give to their various professors specifically identifying them as student-athletes and explaining they will be missing some classes. The week before any road match, the players are supposed to inform their professors exactly what days they'll be missing in order to figure out what they need to do to prevent falling behind.

Staying on top of academics is just as important to the team as winning matches.

“We do a really good job of staying on top of our work, going to study hall and getting our work done before we leave and communicating with our professors,” said redshirt senior middle blocker Krystal Rivers. “Coach is looking for an environment for us to be academically sound, and we do a good job with that.”

The team typically travels the day before a match, which means an extra day off campus. It then has to travel back, which can sometimes cause them to miss more class. 

On the home front, players make sure to schedule classed around practice time.

Alabama was one of the recipients of the American Volleyball Coaches Association Team Academic Award for the 2015-16 season, which honors teams that maintained a cumulative GPA of at least a 3.3. It was the second straight season the team earned the award. Former setter Sierra Wilson also represented the Crimson Tide last season as a First Team Academic All-American, her second selection. Rivers was a Third Team Academic All-American in 2014.

Coach Ed Allen preaches prioritization.

"They’re students first, volleyball players second,” he said. “Other things might detract from that, but they’re mature enough to put those things aside and allow them to be successful. That’s why they’re able to maintain the grades. 

"This is an Academic All-American team, it has been for five straight years, and they do that because they’re driven kids and they prioritize their lives the right way,” Allen said.

Looking ahead, the Crimson Tide travels again, this time to Puerto Rico for the Puerto Rico Clásico. Alabama will face Virginia Tech on Thursday at 4:30 p.m. CT, followed by No. 16 Florida State on Friday, also at 4:30 p.m. CT. The team wraps up its stint in Puerto Rico with a 2 p.m. CT match Saturday against Temple.

"Just like we talk about every year, the goal is to win every match we play," Allen said. "We'd like to think that we're progressively getting better, and I think we're going to be challenged with all three teams we play."

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