Volleyball struggles on the road again Friday night

Abby McCreary, Staff Reporter

Alabama volleyball struggled traveling to the Ball State Tournament this weekend, and its struggles continued on the court.  

The team was forced to hit the road to Muncie, Indiana in buses after several flight cancellations, but they showed up ready to play at Ball State.  

“We made it. We’re here,” head coach Rashinda Reed said in a video posted to her Instagram story. “It’s almost game time. But we made it safe and sound. Full of rest. Ready to battle. Roll tide.” 

The Crimson Tide (4-4) did indeed battle. They won their first set of the day but couldn’t string enough points together to win any matches, going 0-2 on the first day of the tournament against the Wisconsin-Green Bay Phoenix and their hosts, Ball State. 

Wisconsin-Green Bay (1-3: 25-21, 15-25, 23-25, 20-25) 

Outside hitter Abby Marjama earned Alabama’s first and last points in its first set against Wisconsin-Green Bay (5-3). She tallied four kills in the first set, tying with middle blocker Alyiah Wells for second-most.  

Libero Sydney Gholson made her 2022 season debut in the first set and served three aces, all back-to-back, helping Alabama take the lead after a 13-9 deficit.  

The Crimson Tide and the Phoenix stayed neck-and-neck throughout most of the set until 18-18. A kill from outside hitter Kendyl Reaugh gave Alabama the lead — three more kills from Reaugh and two service aces from setter Brooke Slusser brought the score to 24-21, and then Marjama secured the final point. 

Although Alabama started the second set off strong with a 4-0 run — marked by two more aces from Slusser — Green Bay responded with several runs of their own. The Phoenix tallied only one more kill than the Crimson Tide but their .706 hitting percentage in the set helped them claim a 25-15 win.  

The third set opened with another 4-0 Alabama run, but this time outside hitter Micah Gryniewicz led the charge. Of the first six Alabama points, she scored four, including one service ace.  

The Crimson Tide led the set 16-10 but the Phoenix worked their way to a 19-19 tie, in large part due to Green Bay opposite hitter Alexandra Zakutney. Zakutney ended the match with 20 kills, nearly half the team’s total. The lead bounced back and forth, but Green Bay pulled off a narrow 25-23 win, bringing the match to 2-1 in their favor. 

The Crimson Tide attempted to bounce back, but the Phoenix led the entire set. At 24-20, Green Bay libero Abby Gardner served an ace, sealing the match, 3-1, for her team. 

Ball State (1-3: 21-25, 25-21, 12-25, 25-27) 

Alabama started the match with a 3-0 scoring run and stayed ahead of Ball State (7-1) for the majority of the match. At 19-16, Crimson Tide attack errors allowed for a 7-0 run that gave the Cardinals a 23-19 lead. Ball State eventually took the first set 25-21. 

The first eight points of the second set were marked by errors on both sides of the net. With Alabama leading 5-3, Wells scored with three kills in a row, bringing the score to 8-3.  

The Crimson Tide maintained a healthy lead for the remainder of the set, especially with the help of three service aces. They won the second set 25-21, tying the match 1-1. 

Alabama scored the first point of the third set, but Ball State led the rest of the set. After a 7-0 run that took the score to 7-1, the Crimson Tide never came within five points again. Their hitting average was .000 for the set, which eventually ended when Ball State libero Maggie Huber served an ace, winning the set 25-12.  

In the fourth set, Alabama left it all out on the court. At 11-10, the Crimson Tide took the lead for the first time since scoring first in the third set. From there, they brought the Cardinals to 15-15, and every point was a tie until the end of the set.   

Despite fighting back from a disappointing third set, Alabama lost the set 25-27. For the second time that day, the Crimson Tide lost their match 1-3.  

Over the course of the two matches, Reaugh led with 26 kills, Marjama had a high of 7 aces and Wells was credited with the most points at 33.5. 

What’s Next? 

Alabama will play its final game of the tournament Saturday against Arkansas State at 11 a.m. CT on Ball State All-Access.

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