Mahalia Swink steps up in her sophomore yearBy Ehsan Kassim | 10/11/2017 10:14pm
Alabama coach Ed Allen feels that Mahalia Swink has been one of his most improved players as she enters her sophomore year.
Swink recorded a career high 14 kills on Sunday against Tennessee and Allen came away impressed with her match.
“What she has done well is control her arm and be able to take swings that seem to make sense based on set locations, timing and everything else,” Allen said. “She’s done a much better job of taking care of the ball than she did as a freshman, or even earlier in the year. I think that’s why you have seen the kills numbers, and then she’s got a setter that is, I think trusting in her a little bit more and giving her more opportunities that what we gave her earlier in the year.”
The win over Tennessee was a relief for Alabama, as it has started with a 2-4 mark in SEC play. Alabama is 13-6 on the season and Swink has played in every match.
“It was a really good win,” Swink said. “It was definitely satisfying because it was tough to lose a lot of our beginning SEC matches. It was a good win for us, it was fun.”
Swink does not want to take all the credit for her performance and deferred the credit to her teammates.
“I felt like I wouldn’t have gotten that [14 kills] if we didn’t go to five sets,” Swink said. “Meghan [Neelon] did a good job of delivering the balls and Quincey [Gary] did our system as well. I think it was just a big team effort.”
For Swink, her connection with Neelon has grown over the season. As a result of that connection, Swink has continued her improvement.
“I think I am a more confident hitter,” Swink said. “I kind of want the ball more and I think I have gotten a lot better in my passing. My hitting has a lot to do with my connection with Meg. She’s a really good player and you don’t even notice she’s a freshman half the time she’s on the court, because of the way she plays and the way she carries herself. I think she’s doing a really great job of stepping into that role.”
Alabama will travel to Montgomery on Thursday to face Alabama State at 7 p.m.
Alabama State has won 10 straight matches and will present a tough challenge for the Crimson Tide.
“We’re going to have to play well at the net,” Allen said. “They are an athletic team that jumps well. Our ability to block well and then retransition and take care of the ball. They like to run their middles, so the opportunity to limit that with our serves will be huge.”
Swink believes that Alabama might be a better team on the road, as the team likes to play the spoiler role.
“I feel like when we are away, I think we do a good job and I think the bench does a good job as well of keeping us all engaged,” Swink said. “I feel like sometimes we like playing better away because get to shush the crowd up.”