No. 11 Florida hands Alabama its second-straight SEC loss


By Joe Will Field

James Benedetto, Staff Reporter

Alabama dropped its second straight SEC match, losing to No. 11 Florida in straight sets.

The Gators have now won 44 straight matches after Alabama won the first five out of six meetings. Florida has also won 47 straight sets against the Crimson Tide.

Passing once again was a major issue. Like the South Carolina match, the Crimson Tide had more than 18 errors in the match, leading to Florida scoring runs.

“We didn’t pass the ball well and when you don’t pass the ball well its difficult for outside hitters,” coach Ed Allen said. “You’re playing a team that has good size across the front row and when you got no option except an outside hitter that you are delivering a ball to, that puts a lot of pressure on them. Our passing was directly tied to that we hit under .100 in those first two sets.”

Alabama had trouble maintaining offense against Florida’s defense. The Gators finished the match with 11 total blocks versus the Crimson Tide’s four.

“Its very obvious that we were giving them runs in the middle of the game,” sophomore Kaylee Thomas said. “We would be with [Florida] until arounds 10 points then let them go on a 4-0, 5-0 run. In the third set we had Erin Curl come in and play incredible.”

This was a break out match for Curl. In the match, Curl was tied with Doris Carter for kills with eight and was second on the team in hitting percentage with a .467. She got her first kill in an Alabama uniform on Sept. 8 against Northern Illinois. That match was the last time Curl played in an Alabama match.

“A kid that plays with a lot of energy, is tough at the net, gets quality swings and is not afraid to take quality swings,” Allen said. “I think she is very aware of what is going on in front of her on a regular basis. I think she took every chance to take advantage of this opportunity and she played extremely well.”

Curl’s energy on the floor was a key contributor in Alabama’s ability to keep it close with the Gators. In the third set alone, Curl had four kills out of her eight. Two of those kills were key in tying the set up late. The walk-on freshman had consecutive kills for Alabama which tied the score of the set at 21 and 22 apiece.

“She came in with a lot of energy and gave us something to fight for,” Thomas said. “She’s a walk-on freshman who does not see the court and she came in and played her heart out. I just told [the team] that we need to fight for her because she is fighting like hell for us.”

Thomas went on to say that Curl’s entrance into the game gave a different dynamic to the match. Every kill Curl had was met with jubilation from that fans as well as the players.

“She brought so much energy, passion and heart into the game. I’m pretty sure without her we would have gotten our ass kicked…it would have been way worse,” Thomas said.