The ‘Iron Bowl of Volleyball’ comes to Tuscaloosa

Abby McCreary, Staff Reporter

In Alabama volleyball’s first home match since August, the Crimson Tide will compete in the Iron Bowl of the volleyball world. On both Saturday and Sunday, the program welcomes their in-state rivals, the Auburn University Tigers, to Foster Auditorium which hasn’t seen any playing time since opening weekend.  

“I am so excited to play in front of our family, our crowd, our fans,” head coach Rashinda Reed said. “We’re really excited about the rival match. The ladies are excited to battle in our home. We’re looking forward to it.” 

The undefeated Tigers (11-0) will play their first conference match of the season against Alabama (6-7), who lost their first SEC matchup against No. 12 Florida on Wednesday night. 

The Auburn program has seen a revamp in the 2022 season after going 13-15 last year with a 5-13 conference record. Head coach Brent Crouch has added seven freshmen to his 2022 squad — his “Magnificent Seven” — that have turned the program into a conference contender.  

Freshmen like libero Sarah Morton and outside hitter Akasha Anderson have significantly impacted the Auburn program, leading the team with 162 digs and 129 kills, respectively. Junior setter Jackie Barrett — who has been with the team and coach Crouch since she was a freshman — has also been a big part of the Auburn offense, being named the SEC Setter of the Week last week. 

As a team, Auburn is at the top of many of the SEC statistics but is still second to Alabama in service aces. The Tigers have 83 to Alabama’s 105, earning the Crimson Tide the seventh most in the NCAA. Outside hitter Abby Marjama is also still in the NCAA rankings for aces — this week at fourth instead of third — with 32, which is nearly double Auburn’s top server.  

Outside hitter Kendyl Reaugh has also made a huge impact on the 2022 Alabama squad, leading the Crimson Tide with 154 kills. Reaugh said she doesn’t feel much pressure as the driving force behind the Alabama offense. 

“I like getting the ball,” Reaugh said. “I feel confident finding ways to score.” 

Although Alabama leads the series 52-35, the Crimson Tide haven’t beaten their rivals since 2019. Both of last year’s games, including a close five-set loss, were in Auburn, so the Crimson Tide hope to change the momentum with a matchup at home in Foster Auditorium.  

Although Alabama is coming off a tough loss against Florida, they’ve shown grit since a tough performance at the Horned Frog Invitational. The team has recovered from their season-low hitting percentage from that night, managed to compete with one of the best programs in the nation on Wednesday and is looking forward to an age-old rivalry back on their home court this weekend. 

Both games begin at 1 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. The Saturday game is free admission and the Sunday game is the program’s Title IX game, which can be watched on the SEC Network.

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