Volleyball falls twice to undefeated Auburn


Courtesy of UA Athletics

Alabama outside hitter Micah Gryniewicz (1) dives for a ball in the Crimson Tide’s loss to the Auburn Tigers on Sept. 25 at Foster Auditorium in Tuscaloosa, Ala.

Abby McCreary, Staff Reporter

The Iron Bowl of Volleyball ended in Auburn’s favor this weekend in Foster Auditorium. 

Despite strong starts on both Saturday and Sunday, Alabama couldn’t win more than one set each day, losing both matches of the weekend in four sets.  

“I’m disappointed,” head coach Rashinda Reed said. “It’s just consistency. It’s about mental stamina and staying in the match the entire time. We just failed at that in the last few sets.” 

Saturday (1-3: 28-26, 22-25, 15-25, 15-25) 

Alabama (6-9, 0-3) stepped on the court with all the zeal worthy of an in-state rivalry like the Iron Bowl. They won an exciting first set, but let Auburn (13-0, 2-0) have the other three. 

Outside hitter Micah Gryniewicz, coming off an injury, scored the first point of the match and started a 4-0 run for the Crimson Tide. Big kills and crafty tips over the net came from both sides of the court, but Alabama kept its energy up and pulled ahead to an 18-11 lead. 

An Auburn rally, headed by freshmen Bel Zimmerman and Madison Scheer, came late in the first set, and the Tigers tied it up 24-24. Libero Taylor Drapp — playing for the first time this season — served an untouchable ace to give the Crimson Tide a 27-26 advantage, and Gryniewicz sealed the set with a kill.  

Reed said that Drapp’s debut was the result of her impressive serves during practice and outside hitter Sydney Gholson’s appearance.  

“Taylor has an amazing serve,” Reed said. “We had Sydney playing in the back row for Abby [Marjama] so where Sydney was a serving sub, now she’s actually made her way onto the court.” 

Auburn was the first to score in the second set, but outside hitter Abby Marjama responded with a kill that ricocheted off an Auburn player into the crowd. However, Alabama couldn’t carry their momentum from the first match, and trailed behind the Tigers for the majority of the second set. They lost 22-25 and ended the set with a .071 hitting percentage.  

At 1-1, the Crimson Tide and Tigers were tied for much of the third set as well. The first four Alabama points all came from outside hitter Alyiah Wells, and the rest of the team kept up until 6-6, when Auburn took a healthy lead.  

Down 22-13, Alabama took a timeout to slow down the Tigers but the Crimson Tide still lost 15-25.  

Alabama trailed most of the fourth set as well, and couldn’t recover. They lost the set on a service error, losing 15-25 again and losing the match 1-3. 

Reed said that the main issue is staying consistent.  

“That’s just part of the practice,” Reed said. “That’s just part of what we’re working through as a team, and we just fell short.” 

Sunday (1-3: 25-16, 16-25, 14-25, 14-25) 

On Sunday, Alabama showed up with their Saturday loss fresh in their minds, but it ended up being a repeat of the match. The first set finished as an exciting win, but the Crimson Tide fell apart in the next three.  

The first set started off as much more than just a slugfest. A crowded Foster Auditorium watched long rallies and strategic kills tipped over the net — perfected by outside hitter Chaise Campbell — that ended with a 25-16 victory for the Crimson Tide. Alabama had 14 kills to Auburn’s nine, and four players tallied aces.  

Despite the victory, Alabama trailed the entirety of the second set. Alabama kept up their energy, though; down 13-19, setter Brooke Slusser had to grapple with an Auburn player over who got to tip a ball over the net, and Slusser outlasted her, bringing the score to 14-19. The Crimson Tide only got two more points the rest of the set, eventually falling 16-25.  

The third set started off with both sides fighting for the lead, but when Alabama lost a challenge that Gryniewicz had successfully kicked a ball over the net for a kill, Auburn took the lead. The third set ended with a -.059 hitting percentage for the Crimson Tide.  

The fourth set was a story of the same, even though Alabama did improve to .108. Both sets were lost and Auburn won the match 3-1 once again. 

Although the Crimson Tide suffered a tough loss, it still had a crowded auditorium that kept the atmosphere alive. Many young fans showed up for the Title IX celebration – celebrated by 50th anniversary T-shirts – and the in-state rivalry, and coach Reed made sure their presence didn’t go unnoticed.  

“We appreciate all the support,” Reed said. “Thank you, fans, and Roll Tide.” 

The Crimson Tide’s next match will be against the Kentucky Wildcats on Saturday, Oct. 1, at 3 p.m. CT in Lexington, Kentucky.

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