Alabama Volleyball Rolls Over Auburn

With the match split at 1-1 at intermission, Alabama came out with two strong sets to beat Auburn, 3-1, Friday at Foster Auditorium to improve to 23-6 overall and 11-4 in SEC play. With the loss, Auburn falls to 12-16 overall and 4-11 in SEC play.

Alabama had three players with double-digit kills, led by Krystal Rivers with 22 kills on 41 total swings for a .341 hitting percentage. Sierra Wilson led the Tide in assists with 52, which helped her surpass 4,000 career assists. She is the just the fourth player in school history to reach this milestone. Brittany Thomas had an excellent all-around performance, knocking in 17 kills and 12 digs for her eighth double-double of the season while hitting a team-leading .429.

As a team, Alabama hit .369, a high in SEC play, which matches the Tide’s same exact hitting percentage from its Oct. 22 victory on the road against Auburn.

Alabama’s play on the court was helped by a Foster Auditorium record crowd, as 2,169 fans packed into the arena on Homecoming weekend. This beats the previous record of 1,749 set earlier this season against LSU by over 400 and is the first 2,000-plus crowd in Foster Auditorium history.

The Tide got off to a fast start in the opening set, scoring three-straight points to move ahead 8-3 as Auburn used its first timeout. The second timeout would come shortly thereafter, as a 4-2 Tide run extended the lead to 12-5. Alabama would continue to widen the gap, hitting the 20-point mark with a double-digit lead, 20-10. Leading 21-13, three straight points capped with a kill by Thomas made it set point, 24-13, and Thomas sealed the win with another kill to give the Tide the 25-13 victory in the opening set.

Auburn took advantage of multiple Alabama mistakes in the second set, with the teams battling back and forth with Alabama holding the slight 15-14 edge at the media timeout. A 6-2 run by the Tigers gave them a 20-17 lead as Alabama took a timeout. Soon thereafter, the visitors pulled ahead 23-18 as the Tide burned its final timeout. Trailing by five, Alabama would storm back after the break with five-straight points to tie it at 23-23, but a service error made it set point Auburn, 24-23. A Tiger attack error would force extra points as Auburn would reach set point four times before they finally ended it, eventually winning 29-27 to even the match at 1-1.

Alabama slumped early in the third set, as Auburn pulled ahead 5-1 to force an early Tide timeout. Alabama kept clawing away at the deficit, eventually tying it at 15-15 and taking its first lead, 20-19, off a kill by Rivers. Tied at 22-22, a block by Rivers and Katherine White and a service ace by Leah Lawrence made it set point, 24-22, and Thomas sealed it with a kill to win, 25-22, and take a 2-1 match lead.

Alabama scored four unanswered points to open up set four and that set the pace for the remainder of the match, as the Tide held its lead and would not allow the Tigers draw any closer than four points. Auburn burned its final timeout trailing 15-8 and a 6-3 run by Alabama made it a double-digit game, 21-11. A kill by White made it match point, 24-14, and Auburn would score back-to-back points to stay alive but another kill by White eventually ended it as Alabama won the set, 25-16, to win the match, 3-1.

Alabama wraps up its weekend with a trip to Oxford, Miss., to take on the Ole Miss Rebels (20-9, 6-9 SEC) on Sunday, Nov. 23 at 1:30 p.m. CT. The Rebels lost its Friday match against Florida, 3-1.

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