Gary key for Alabama volleyball defenseBy Ehsan Kassim | 09/06/2017 11:45pm
Quincey Gary put together a historic performance at the Jaguar Invitational last weekend, collecting 70 digs and leading the Alabama volleyball team to two victories in three matches.
Her performance earned her SEC Defensive Player of the Week, the league announced on Tuesday. The honor is the first for Gary, a junior from Alexandria, Indiana, and she is the first Alabama defender to earn the honor since 2008.
“It’s always great to get a kid recognized that has worked hard the last couple of years,” said Head Coach Ed Allen. “She is an extremely coachable kid. It’s probably not the last time she is going to get an opportunity to receive something like that over the next two years.”
Gary’s 31 digs last Friday were a personal best and set the school record for a four-set match. It was the highest total for an Alabama player since Kelsey Anderson had 33 against SMU on Sept. 3, 2011. She also had 30 digs on Saturday, making her and Amy Pauly (2005-08) the only players to collect multiple 30 dig games.
While her coach and teammates are proud of Gary, she is downplaying the award herself.
“It was a huge honor, but honestly, that award doesn’t help our team get any better or get to the tournament,” Gary said. “It’s a nice honor, but I am not really looking too into it. I was just trying to keep the ball off the court. I was trying to do whatever to try and help my team win.”
Gary and Natalie Murison were voted team captains by teammates. Allen feels Gary has grown a lot from her freshman year to her junior year.
“She’s really starting to assume that role nicely,” Allen said. “She is a competitive kid that pushes in here everyday. She sets a tremendous example and she continues to grow as a player and become even more vocal as a leader.”
Gary’s leadership is important to a team that starts two freshmen, and of the eight main players, five are underclassmen.
The Crimson Tide, off to a 4-2 start, will turn its focus to hosting the Hampton Inn Bama Bash at Foster Auditorium this weekend. Alabama will play a doubleheader on Friday, with matches against Tennessee State and Hofstra on Friday at 10 a.m. and 7:30 p.m., respectively. It will conclude the tournament with a match against Furman on Saturday, Sept. 9 at noon.
Jennifer Casillas, a senior from Escondido, Cal., wants fans and students to come out and support the team as they make their home debut.
“We have a great team, lots of energy and we’re definitely going to be putting on a show for the fans,” Casillas said.
Casillas led the Alabama team with 20 kills in two matches last Saturday. While Alabama won the finale, they struggled in the opening match against Southern Mississippi, losing in three sets. Casillas thinks the team will use that match as a motivational tool moving forward.
“Things just weren’t clicking in that game,” Casillas said. “We’ll figure what we were missing from that game and move forward. It's a game you can learn from.”