Volleyball heads to Ball State this weekend

Abby McCreary, Staff Reporter

Alabama volleyball is taking their 4-2 record on the road this weekend to the Hoosier state.  

“Traveling with the team is great,” head coach Rashinda Reed said. “It’s been a long time coming. As a recruiter, you’re always on the road, but being on the road with the team is just a different feeling.” 

Their last invite ended with a win in Houston, Texas, but two losses on Friday broke their undefeated status. The Crimson Tide hopes to carry that win into Muncie, Indiana, as they take on University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, their host Ball State and Arkansas State.  

Alabama serves are the one factor that is sure to predict their success this weekend. While they lead the SEC with 50 aces — 16th in the NCAA — they also lead with 118 service errors. The second-most service errors are held by Georgia at 71.  

But Coach Reed says she isn’t worried. 

“The whole thought process behind serving is you don’t want to talk into the service errors,” Reed said. “When you start talking about errors, you see players start to be more complacent, more timid, at the service line. It’s about high risk, high reward.” 

This past weekend in Houston, the team that had the most service aces won the match as well. Even though Alabama had nine times as many service errors as Arkansas State (18-2), they ended the match with two more service aces and a corresponding win.  

If Alabama can keep its serves inside the court, the team will no doubt have a dominant weekend in Muncie. Leading the service game will be outside hitter Abby Marjama, who has 17 aces, the sixth highest in the NCAA.  

University of Wisconsin-Green Bay (3-3), Friday at 11 a.m. CT 

Green Bay had a dominant weekend at the Illinois State Redbird Classic, going 2-1 with a hard-fought loss at the hands of their hosts.  

The Phoenix know how to find and maintain a rhythm during a match, taking their two wins in straight sets and taking their loss to five. The fifth set’s final score was 18-20, proving that Green Bay doesn’t get put away easily.  

Green Bay finished their 2021 campaign 15-16 and has four 2022 additions that hope to take the program to a better record. Northern Illinois transfer Angie Gromos has already affected the Phoenix defense, leading the team with an impressive 32 blocks. 

Alabama and Green Bay last met in 2010 when the Crimson Tide won in straight sets in Iowa City.  

Ball State University (5-1), Friday at 6 p.m. CT 

Ball State also had a successful weekend, going 2-1 in Nashville. The team played some long, nail-biting sets, including a 29-27 win and a 30-28 loss. Their one lost match of the weekend came at the hands of Mississippi State University. The match was the Cardinals’ first SEC opponent since 2006, when Alabama beat them 3-0 at the Bama Bash. 

The Cardinals are starting this season’s campaign nearly as well as their 2021 season. The program finished the 2021 season with a 30-4 record and as the Mid-American Conference champions. They also had an NCAA tournament run that ended in the second round with a loss against the No. 1 seed Louisville.  

Ball State returns several players from their 2021 roster including now-sophomore Megan Wielonski. The setter finished last season ranked second nationally with 1,394 assists, and already has 245 to start this season. She also leads the Cardinals with 13 aces, over a third of the team’s total.  

Marjama, though, has more aces than Wielonski, and Alabama as a team also has more aces than the Cardinals (50-36).  

Arkansas State University (5-1), Saturday at 11 a.m. CT 

Arkansas State is the other team heading to Muncie with a 5-1 record. The Red Wolves are coming into 2022 with a winning season behind them, going 15-14 in 2021, but the program has a lot of new faces.  

Two transfers, two freshmen and an entirely new coaching staff are the face of the 2022 squad. Houston transfer Sarah Martinez and freshman Kyla Wiersema lead the team with 96 digs and 17 blocks, respectively.  

Before coaching at Arkansas State, head coach Brian Gerwig was known for the powerful offenses he put together at Houston, but the Red Wolves have yet to display that kind of dominance.  

The Red Wolves know how to find a rhythm, though. Last weekend they won all their matches pretty decisively, including a 25-9 set in their 3-2 win against Western Illinois.  

Reed says she’s looking forward to all three matches, even though they’re on the road for the second weekend.  

“It’s another opportunity to battle,” she said. “When you’re playing in a foreign gym, it’s always interesting to see how your team will perform in a different place.”

Questions or comments? Email Austin Hannon (Sports Editor) at [email protected]