Consistency Concerns: Missteps add up in Alabama volleyball loss

The Crimson Tide fell to the South Carolina Gamecocks on Friday.

A slow start ended with a slow finish for Alabama volleyball on Friday afternoon as it fell to the South Carolina Gamecocks, 3-1. The culprit to the Tide’s season-opening loss: inconsistent play.

“We have a lot to work on still,” head coach Lindsey Devine said. “We have a lot of opportunities still, and this spring season is all about opportunities.”

Alabama’s setting game failed to create striking opportunities for the frontline. Out-of-system balls ruined 20% of Alabama’s attack attempts, and the team finished with a .141 hitting percentage.

“We’[ve] got to pass better,” Devine said. “We became very predictable because of the first pass.”

Though the offense was inefficient, junior Abby Marjama attempted to keep Alabama within striking distance. Marjama led the team in hitting percentage, .242, and kills, 18.

The out-of-system balls left sophomore Aaliyah Wells and freshman Chaise Campbell, both middles, with limited attacking opportunities. So instead, they focused on blocking. The two combined for three and a half blocks and the team finished with nine.

“The lightbulb is starting to go on for our players as they are understanding how important the little details are when blocking,” Devine said. “Nine blocks is something to celebrate for our team.”

The art of serving calls for an aggressive but methodical approach. For Devine, the balance of these two components is not to try and “create an untouchable serve,” but to create an out-of-system ball. And there’s a “fine line” between the two, she said.

Alabama has struggled to toe that line, but improved Friday night. The team committed 11 service errors – down 10 from last week.

“I do not think the consistency of what we have been practicing carried over into the match when it came to the serve,” Devine said.

Devine said Alabama had prepared for South Carolina’s fluid offense, but couldn’t handle it’s “more consistent” first-ball contact. South Carolina was able to distribute the ball to both pins, through the middle and finished with three players who hit above a .300 clip, a minimum of 10 attempts.