Volleyball earns first SEC victory of season over Missouri

Abby McCreary, Staff Reporter

As the Alabama and University of Missouri volleyball teams stepped into Foster Auditorium Wednesday night, both knew that only one would step out with their first conference win.  

From the very first set, the Crimson Tide (7-12, 1-6) made sure it would be them. 

Alabama swept the Tigers (7-8, 0-5) in straight sets, totaling an impressive six service aces and a .266 hitting percentage. 

“The first win is always special, one that you’ll always remember,” head coach Rashinda Reed said. “Our focus was to stay patient, stay steady, not go with the emotion of the game, but to be the ones to dictate what happens during the game.” 

Despite being the first to score, Alabama trailed for the majority of the first set. Missouri, led by setter Riley Buckley, peppered the Crimson Tide’s side of the court with multiple tips over the net. Down 13-17, the Crimson Tide finally got the ball back after a Tigers error. 

A pair of kills from outside hitter Abby Marjama and middle blocker Alyiah Wells helped Alabama tie the score at 17-17, forcing a Missouri timeout. The Tigers took the first point after the timeout, but the Crimson Tide established a healthy lead with the help of a pair of aces from outside hitter Marjama and Sami Jacobs. Outside hitter Kendyl Reaugh earned the 25th point for the Crimson Tide, giving them a 25-21 win in the first set. 

Wells said that the first-set victory felt good after a long series of away matches. 

“We’ve been on the road for a while, so it’s been hard to string points together,” Wells said. “We’ve been struggling for the past week or so. It just felt really great because I felt like we were all believing that we could do it.” 

In the second set, the Crimson Tide got off to a slow start. Its first two points came from Missouri service errors. Back-to-back Marjama aces helped tie the score at 5-5, and the Crimson Tide stayed neck-and-neck with the Tigers until 13-13. From there, Missouri led the set, taking as much as a 23-16 lead. Down seven points, the Crimson Tide decided it was a perfect time for a comeback. 

Led by Victoria Schmer’s serving, Alabama mounted a six-point run. After every point, the Crimson Tide crowd grew louder and louder. Alabama finally allowed Missouri a point, giving the Tigers set point at 24-22, but the Crimson Tide refused to give them the set.  

Long rallies and back-and-forth set points kept Foster Auditorium on its feet. As the teams fought over the second-set victory, Wells managed to bring the score to a tie a total of three times.  

Reed said that her team has been preparing for moments like these during practice this week.  

“We talked about resetting ourselves and staying patient and focusing on one ball at a time,” Reed said. “In that moment, it was beautiful to see it come to fruition.” 

Leading 28-27, Alabama finally put an end to any and all of the Tigers’ momentum. Reaugh drove a kill into the Missouri court, giving her team the two-point lead it needed to win the set 29-27. 

Reed said that Reaugh’s kill was just one moment in an incredible game.  

“Kendyl [Reaugh] did a really nice job of being mindful of the ball,” Reed said. “When we were out of system, she was mixing up her shots, placing them where the defense wasn’t able to keep themselves in system.” 

At 2-0, only one set stood in the way of the Crimson Tide’s first conference win, and the team refused to let the match go to a fourth set.  

Alabama’s attackers averaged a .333 hitting percentage in the third set. They had more than triple the kills as the Tigers. And by the third set, the Crimson Tide was done with light tips over the net.  

The Crimson Tide let the Tigers get to double digits before Marjama stepped up to the service line at 24-10. In true Marjama fashion, she won the set and the match with a service ace her fourth of the night leading to an Alabama sweep of Missouri. 

“The service line is where I’ve always felt the most comfortable,” Marjama said. “I just go back there, do my routine, take a deep breath, and tell myself, ‘You got this,’ and hit the ball as hard as I can.” 

After their first conference victory, Alabama will have a break from SEC play to take on the Alabama State Lady Hornets on Friday night. The two teams will face off in the Crimson Tide’s annual “Power of Pink” match at 6 p.m. in Foster Auditorium on SEC Network+. 

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