Volleyball splits with South Carolina at Foster Auditorium


Courtesy of UA Athletics

The Alabama volleyball team celebrates in the Crimson Tide’s three-set win over the South Carolina Gamecocks on Nov. 12 at Foster Auditorium in Tuscaloosa, Ala.

Abby McCreary, Staff Reporter

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – After getting swept by the South Carolina Gamecocks on Friday night, Alabama volleyball rallied and pulled off a sweep of its own on Saturday afternoon. 

“We were so close when we did get swept,” outside hitter Sami Jacobs said. “Being able to turn around and sweep them instead feels great.” 

Head coach Rashinda Reed said that a lot of adjustments were made between Friday and Saturday, but the biggest thing was just competing until the end.  

“I think we eliminated unforced errors on our end,” Reed said. “We made them earn points and continued to be productive offensively until the end.” 

Friday, 0-3: 28-30, 21-25, 19-25 

Alabama (9-17, 3-11) came out strong on Friday night. The Crimson Tide scored the first four points of the match, let the Gamecocks (12-13, 6-9) score a few and then bounced back with a seven-point scoring run.  

Down 9-3, South Carolina called an early timeout. After a kill-then-block combo from middle blocker Alyiah Wells, South Carolina called its second and final timeout down 11-3. Only then were the Gamecocks able to bounce back with a couple points. The Crimson Tide stayed in control of the game until the lead was 18-10. 

At 18-10, a kill from outside hitter Lauren McCutcheon started a Gamecocks comeback. They outscored the Crimson Tide 11-2, giving them a 21-20 lead — their first of the night.  

Alabama managed to tie the set 21-21, the first of eight ties. At 28-28, South Carolina outside hitter Kiune Fletcher hit the ball cross court and her kill found empty court. The next play, Fletcher took advantage of a free ball from Alabama to win the first set for the Gamecocks.  

Despite the loss, the Crimson Tide had a great hitting set, averaging .333, and all of its attackers were above .250. 

Jacobs said that hitting was a big focus in practice this past week, especially how to rally when the hits aren’t falling the way they want. 

“We emphasized swinging high,” Jacobs said. “Being frustrated at practice helps us in games to not get frustrated during those hard moments.” 

Although Alabama had the better start, it wasn’t enough to carry the team through the rest of the set. The Crimson Tide stayed close to the Gamecocks, but a four-point scoring run cemented the South Carolina lead and a 25-21 win. 

The third set started similarly with both teams battling for the lead but once again, Alabama simply allowed too many scoring runs. The Crimson Tide lost 25-19, completing the South Carolina sweep. 

One of Alabama’s biggest struggles was its hitting percentage — the team averaged .056 in the third set. The Crimson Tide also struggled with McCutcheon. She led the Gamecocks with 14 kills, four block-assists and three aces.  

Reed said another struggle was passing. 

“Our passing just wasn’t there,” Reed said. “I would love for us to block balls, slow the ball down, but we took our foot off the gas.” 

Saturday, 3-0: 27-25, 25-22, 28-26 

Like the earlier match, Saturday also started with a four-point scoring run, this time in South Carolina’s favor. Alabama started off slow, but outside hitter Sami Jacobs managed to tie it 11-11 with a kill. After two more ties, an ace from Marjama gave Alabama its first lead of the set at 14-13. 

The set stayed close, eventually leading to extra points. At 25-25, Wells struck a ball down onto an empty court to take the lead, and a failed South Carolina tip gave Alabama the win.  

Wells carried the momentum into the second set where she got the first point and four of the first seven. Alabama led by as many as six points before South Carolina caught up and took a lead at 17-16. The Crimson Tide stayed in it, though, and behind Jacobs and Marjama’s serving, pulled ahead. Jacobs planted a kill for the final point, winning 25-22. 

Alabama libero Sydney Gholson served an ace to start the third set. Like the previous sets, though, it stayed close — there were 17 ties. At 23-23, Wells hit a ball that nearly took out the South Carolina receiver, giving Alabama match point — but play continued until it was 26-26. Back-to-back kills from outside hitter Kendyl Reaugh won the match for the Crimson Tide. 

“We just had to stay resilient in how we hit,” Reaugh said. “We had to keep getting after it no matter where the ball was or what the point was.” 

Alabama will continue its season in Fayetteville, Arkansas, next weekend with a doubleheader against Arkansas. First serve is at 5 p.m. CT on Saturday, Nov. 19 and 3 p.m. CT on Sunday, Nov. 20. Both matches will be on SEC Network+. 

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