Volleyball tallies second road win against Arkansas State

Abby McCreary, Staff Reporter

Alabama volleyball is returning home with a win under its belt after beating Arkansas State University on the final day of the Ball State Tournament in Muncie, Indiana.  

“We stayed in it,” head coach Rashinda Reed said. “The fact we’re capable of doing that shows that we’re going to have a very exciting season and we’re going to shock a lot of people.” 

Both Alabama and Arkansas State went into the match with an 0-2 record on the weekend. While Alabama won at least one set against each of their opponents on Friday, Arkansas State got swept in straight sets. The team won their first and only set of the weekend against Alabama, eventually losing 1-3 (24-26, 25-22, 18-25, 16-25).  

Arkansas State was first on the board with a kill from middle blocker Kyla Wiersema. Both teams had short scoring runs that resulted in them trading the lead back and forth. Several powerful kills from outside hitters Sami Jacobs and Abby Marjama gave Alabama the lead for several points, but the Red Wolves’ Ilayda Dincer tipped it over the net to tie it back up each time. 

A well-placed kill from outside hitter Kendyl Reaugh gave Alabama a 25-24 lead, and when Dincer attempted to tie it up again, the Crimson Tide blocked it, winning the first set 26-24. 

Jacobs continued attacking the net in the second set, earning the first point for Alabama. However, it came after a 4-0 start from Arkansas State, giving them a healthy lead that they kept for the majority of the second set. 

Despite two service aces from setter Brooke Slusser during a 7-0 run that gave Alabama a temporary lead, the Red Wolves won four points in a row that gave them the 25-22 win.  

With the match tied 1-1, Arkansas State carried its momentum into the third set with an ace to get the first point. But Alabama wasn’t going to let them take a second set. Middle blocker Laila Smith stopped Arkansas State players in their tracks with her kills, middle blocker Alyiah Wells found gaps in their defense, and Jacobs served aces that simply ricocheted off of whoever tried to receive them.  

Reaugh put the final nail in the coffin with a kill aimed at the Red Wolves’ back row, and Alabama took the set 25-18. 

Arkansas State attempted to start the fourth set on a better note, tying every point until 7-7. After 7-7, Alabama went on several scoring runs that only further cemented their lead. Jacobs had a big kill followed up with an ace, and then the Crimson Tide had several kills contribute to a 7-point run.  

To seal the victory, Smith placed an untouchable kill over the net, winning the set 25-16 and the match 3-1.  

Coach Reed said that Smith is currently seeing playing time as middle blocker Chaise Campbell recovers from an injury. 

“Laila’s been doing some really nice things,” Reed said. “I thought she did an amazing job stepping in and filling in some big shoes.” 

Reaugh led with 19 points and Gholson led the Crimson Tide with five aces.  

Gholson appeared in matches for the first time this season on Friday. Reed says it’s because the coaching staff wanted to give her a chance in the serving game.  

“Sydney’s been doing a really great job at the service line,” Reed said. “She’s been developing a very nice serve. We wanted to give Sydney a fair shake, and it’s nice having that defense on the court as well.” 

Alabama volleyball’s next tournament will be the Horned Frog Invitational at TCU next weekend where they will play the University of Louisiana, Texas Christian University and Texas State University.

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