Volleyball opens on high note

Alabama opened the 2001 season by accomplishing something that hadn't been done since the start of the 1998 season... winning an in-season tournament. The Tide captured the championship of the Hilton Classic with a 4-0 record following victories over Nicholls State (3-0), Ball State (3-1), Pittsburgh (3-2) and New Mexico State (3-1).

Junior Shelly Adamcik (MVP) and sophomore Erin Price were selected to the all-tournament team. The tournament title was the second for Coach Judy Green in her tenure at the Capstone and marked the 21st all-time in UA program history.

CRIMSON DEBUTS: Several Bama players had impressive starts to their Crimson Tide careers last weekend. Freshman outside hitter Erin Heffner started in her collegiate debut against Nicholls State tallying nine kills and 11 digs. Heffner finished the weekend as the team leader in kills and digs per game. Fellow freshman Jennifer Cusimano also made her collegiate debut in the Nicholls State match, but it was short lived as she suffered a torn ACL of her left knee in just her third game. Due to Cusimano's injury, freshman Julie Farley (a preseason candidate to be redshirted) was called into action earning starts in UA's final three matches. Rookie Kenna Milner also saw playing time for the Tide at both the setter and defensive specialist positions.

SERIES BREAKDOWN: The three-team field at the Four Points Sheraton Invitational includes just one squad whom the Tide has met before in volleyball. Alabama is 0-1 versus Fairfield and has never played Xavier or Liberty.

The Tide's only meeting with Fairfield came at the 1998 Amerihost Classic with the Stags earning the 3-1 victory. Ironically, that match snapped a 6-0 start by the Tide (best in Judy Green's tenure) and was the opening match of a tournament played in Ohio (Oxford).... HMMM... Coming into this weekend's action, Alabama is riding a 4-0 start to the year (2nd best start in Green Era) and plays Fairfield in the opening match of a tournament in Ohio (Cincinnati).

The 2001 Volleyball squad on their pre-season retreat

SCOUTING REPORT: The Four Points Sheraton Invitational field features three teams that posted over 20 wins last year. In addition to the Tide (22-8), Fairfield finished 26-7 including an NCAA Tourney appearance and host Xavier went 23-8. Liberty posted a 13-20 mark in 2000. Coming into this weekend's competition... Fairfield (2-1) is looking to rebound following their loss to Syracuse - Xavier (3-0) is riding high after winning the JMU/Days Inn Classic which included a 3-0 win over SEC West member Ole Miss - Liberty (0-3) is in search of its first win after dropping all its matches at San Diego State's tournament.

CUSIMANO DEBUT CUT SHORT: Freshman middle Jennifer Cusimano, a native of Tuscaloosa, was making an impact in her collegiate debut. A lifelong Crimson Tide fan, Cusimano had dreamed of getting to suit up in her Alabama uniform and on Aug. 31 she did just that against Nicholls State. Cusimano, a very athletic middle blocker, was providing the Tide with a successful offensive performance. After drilling her fifth kill of the match she came down and landed awkwardly causing a tear of the ACL in her left knee. Just that quickly (three games) her true freshman season was over. Cusimano underwent surgery to repair the knee on Sept. 5 and will be redshirted. She will begin rehab immediately and looks to return for the Tide's spring season practices in March.

SEBASTIAN TO MAKE RETURN: After missing three weeks of preseason practice to recover from arthroscopic knee surgery, junior middle Emily Sebastian has been cleared to return to the Crimson Tide lineup. Sebastian will likely debut this week.

TIDE AMONG SEC STAT LEADERS: As a team - Alabama holds its opponent to the lowest hitting percentage in the SEC (.107)... The Tide also ranks second in aces and third in blocks. Individually - Shelly Adamcik ranks 2nd in blocking... Erin Heffner (5th) and Erin Price (6th) are among the league elite in digs... Bridget Studnicka is 7th in assists... Kenna Milner ranks 7th for service aces.

SEC CRYSTAL BALL: In a preseason poll of the SEC volleyball coaches, Alabama was picked to finish third this year in the SEC Western Division. The Tide, the defending SEC West champs, welcome seven newcomers to try and replace the loss of two All-SEC performers and a four-year starter at setter. Perennial power Arkansas was tabbed to capture its seventh SEC West crown in the last eight years. LSU was slated second followed by Bama, Ole Miss, Mississippi State and Auburn. Florida was predicted to win the SEC East and the overall SEC championship.

TIDE CHOOSES CAPTAINS: Prior to the season's first match, the Alabama squad elected the team captains for the year... Senior Jen Wagner and junior Bridget Studnicka were tabbed by their teammates to fill those positions.

Head Coach Judy Green

HOME MATCHES TO BE FUN FILLED: This year's home schedule for the Alabama volleyball team promises to be action-packed and fan friendly. For the second consecutive season the CAVE, with its exciting up-close-and-personal atmosphere, will serve as the home for the Tide. In addition, each home match will feature a serving contest for fans and a special promotion. Following each match the whole team will be available for questions courtside in a "Talk with the Tide" segment.

PROMOTIONS SCHEDULE: Sept. 11 - Magnetic Schedule Cards; Sept. 21 - Team Posters; Sept. 23 - Foam Fingers; Oct. 5 - Head Bands; Oct. 7 - Trading Cards; Oct. 20 - Bumper Stickers; Oct. 21 - TBD; Oct. 22 - Rally Towels & Shakers; Nov. 9 - Stress Key Chains; Nov. 11 - Fan Appreciation. BAMA SEEKS THREE-PEAT IN 2001: With back-to-back winning seasons, the 2001 Crimson Tide will look to extend that streak to three straight. It would be the first time in modern volleyball history at UA (since 1989) that Bama had posted three consecutive plus .500 records.

CHART CLIMBERS: Several Tide players are in position to move up some all-time lists this season...

Career Block Solos

  1. 140 Mavis Reed (1991-94)
  2. 115 Nina Foster (1994-95)
  3. 86 Andrea Miller (1989-92)

Career Block Assists

  1. 285 Mavis Reed (1991-94)
  2. 258 Andrea Miller (1989-92)
  3. 255 Monica Morales (1997-00)

Career Service Aces

  1. 250 Sue Faris (1989-92)
  2. 158 Monica Morales (1997-00)
  3. 102 Kristye Hall (1989-92)
  4. 101 Michelle Green (1997-00)
  5. 100 JEN WAGNER

2001 SLATE OFFERS MANY CHALLENGES: Of UA's 27 opponents this season, 15 had winning seasons a year ago including 11 with 20 or more wins... Seven teams on the Tide's ledger (UALR, Ball State, Fairfield, Florida, South Carolina, South Florida and Tennessee) made the NCAA tournament field with Florida reaching the Sweet 16... Twenty of this year's opponents welcome back atleast 4 starters from a season ago.

GET YOUR PROGRAM HERE: With seven newcomers on the floor plus a pair of new assistant coaches, new trainers and a new manager, fans of Crimson Tide volleyball will be spending part of the early season putting names with faces. The seven-member class of 2001 is the program's largest since volleyball was reinstated at Alabama in 1989 with an inaugural class of nine rookies.

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