Volleyball returns for three-game homestand

Abby McCreary, Staff Reporter

The Crimson Tide hasn’t played in Tuscaloosa since September. 

The team will return Wednesday, Oct. 12 for its first match in a three-game homestand. Alabama will play The University of Missouri and Alabama State University this week to begin their run at Foster Auditorium.  

Missouri, Wednesday at 6 p.m. CT 

On Wednesday night, Alabama (6-12) will welcome the Missouri Tigers to Tuscaloosa. Both teams are hoping to walk out of Foster Auditorium with their first conference win of the season. 

Head coach Rashinda Reed said the main focus for the matchup will be developing a strong defense. 

“Our serving game is strong,” Reed said. “Our serve-receive game is there. Being able to slow some of those balls down from our opponent and dig those balls up so that we can convert is something that we’ve been focusing on so [we want] more of that defense.” 

The Crimson Tide will certainly need to improve its defense if they want a victory over the Tigers (7-7, 0-4). On average, Missouri has more kills and assists per set than the opponents that Alabama has faced thus far. 

Outside hitter Kaylee Cox has tallied many of those kills for the Tigers’ offense, leading the team with 3.71 kills per set. She also leads the Tigers in service aces with 21, or .38 per set. 

Cox, however, has nothing on Alabama outside hitter Abby Marjama who leads the SEC with 41 aces. The Crimson Tide as a team also leads the SEC in aces with 132 total — almost two per set.  

Improving the defense is an important goal for Wednesday night, but Reed said that the majority of her goals this season have been “process-driven.” 

“It’s all about establishing a culture, going after it all the way until the end of a match, putting everything out there,” Reed said. “I feel all those things will result in the ultimate goal, which is winning.” 

Setter Emily Janek said that the team has been working on these goals, even if the end result of each match doesn’t show it. 

“Right now, we’re doing a good job competing even though the scores aren’t turning out how we want them to,” Janek said. “We’re staying consistent with that.” 

Alabama is currently on a six-match losing streak. All six of those matches have been against conference opponents, including No. 13 Florida and No. 19 Kentucky. The Crimson Tide is in need of a win. 

However, Missouri is certainly not going to hand it to them. The Tigers finished their 2021 season with a 5-26 record — worse than Alabama’s 2021 season — and 2-16 in the conference — the same as the Crimson Tide.  

One of the Tigers’ many losses last year was one of Alabama’s two wins. Their 2021 matchup was a tight five-set match in Columbia, Missouri. The Tigers need the victory just as much as the Crimson Tide does.  

Ultimately the match will come down to who wants it more, and Reed said that her team definitely wants it a whole lot. 

“They’re resilient,” Reed said. “I know we’re working through levels of adversity but they’re still hungry. They still want to find ways to get better. They’re mentally here.” 

Alabama State, Friday at 6 p.m. CT 

The Crimson Tide will take a breather from conference play on Friday night to participate in the “Power of Pink” match. Alabama will play Alabama State in the second game of their home stand. 

The in-state opponents haven’t faced off since 2018, when the Crimson Tide swept the Lady Hornets in Tuscaloosa. The all-time series belongs to Alabama, who has won every matchup (7-0).  

The Lady Hornets (9-13, 6-1 SWAC) are on a three-game winning streak. They also lead their conference, the Southwestern Athletic Conference, in aces, with 130 — just two less than the Crimson Tide’s total. Alabama, however, averages 1.9 aces per set while Alabama State averages 1.69.  

The Lady Hornets also lead their conference with the smallest number of opponent service aces, an average of 1.26 per set.  

In terms of kills, assists, digs and blocks, the Crimson Tide averages more per set than Alabama State. They average more reception errors per set as well.  

It should be a close match in Tuscaloosa on Friday night, but ultimately, it’s a nonconference matchup to honor Alabama citizens fighting breast cancer and remember all who lost their battles. 

The Power of Pink is an annual initiative that was originally started in 2005 by former Alabama gymnastics head coach Sarah Patterson and has spread to the entire UA Athletics Department in recent years.  

Both matches will be on SEC Network+. 

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