Alabama evens season series against Mississippi StateBy Ben Boynton | 10/13/2016 11:36pm
After losing to Mississippi State in Starkville, Mississippi ten days prior, the Alabama Crimson Tide got a chance to host the Bulldogs in Foster Auditorium Wednesday night in front of a friendly crowd.
This time, it was the Crimson Tide who came away with the victory, in its first match at home since Sept. 25.
“It was great to get a win at home, the crowd really helped and it was really easy to feed off of that energy,” junior middle blocker Leah Lawrence said. “We started the match a lot better, we fought a lot earlier. In the match at Mississippi State we kind of waited to start playing well and this time we jumped on them a lot earlier and that helped.”
It was a 3-1 match victory for the Crimson Tide that featured several players making key contributions. Redshirt senior middle blocker Krystal Rivers, who ranks second in the entire nation, delivered 31 kills and ten digs for a double-double. Lawrence hit .600 with ten kills, and delivered four service aces for the second straight match. The team as a whole hit .315, the best mark in SEC play this season for the Crimson Tide.
Senior outside hitter Brittany Thomas was another player who had a strong night. Thomas contributed 11 kills and 15 digs for her second double-double on the year, hitting a season-high .409.
“Brittany Thomas had her best match of the year,” coach Ed Allen said. “If she doesn’t perform like that, I’m not sure we have a chance to win.”
Thomas said she felt very comfortable on the floor and felt the team was in good sync.
“Everyone was solid and consistent,” Thomas said. “I think that had everything to do with everyone feeding off of each other’s momentum of ‘I get a kill, Krys gets a kill, Leah gets a kill’ and just kind of spreading the wealth and everybody being on the same playing field offensively and defensively.”
Sophomore libero Quincey Gary made her second start of the season at the position, and delivered a career-best 22 digs.
“Q lit it up,” Thomas said. “She has done a lot of work and she came in with a great mindset to be able to take over the backcourt and she did a great job. She had a lot of energy and I think that’s what we needed.”
The team made the switch at the libero position to Gary from junior Natalie Murison recently. Murison still played a fair amount, much like Gary had all season, but the switch meant the two would be playing different roles. Allen was impressed with Gary’s performance.
“She’s done great since that transition, passing the ball well, defending well, playing a couple of different positions in the back row, handling second balls, she’s really settled into the position nicely,” Allen said.
The win improves Alabama’s record to 14-5 overall and 3-3 in the SEC. The Crimson Tide hosts Missouri Sunday at 1:30 p.m. in the team’s Power of Pink match to raise breast cancer awareness.