Alabama will see action Friday against Samford at 1 p.m. CDT. In a quick turnaround, Alabama faces South Florida at 7 p.m. The Tide will finish out the tournament with a match against Murray State at 1 p.m. Saturday.
"In this tournament we are looking for improvement in our consistency and competitive mentality," said Alabama Coach Judy Green. "We want to win our tournament because it's something we can take great pride in. We will do whatever is necessary to accomplish that."
The Crimson Tide has a 4-2 record coming into the weekend. It opened up the season with a hard-fought match against Western Kentucky in the Hampton Inn Bama Bash that the Hilltoppers eked out 3-2. Alabama rallied on the second day of the tournament to top Nicholls State 3-0. In the final match of the Bama Bash, Head Coach Judy Green captured her 600th win as the Tide beat Iowa 3-1. In the first road trip of 2008, Alabama traveled to Coral Gables, Florida to compete in the eighth annual Hurricane Invitational. The Tide topped South Dakota State 3-1 and Virginia Commonwealth 3-0 before falling 3-1 to Miami.
Sophomore outside hitter Alyssa Meuth and junior outside hitter Brooks Webster both earned a spot on the Hurricane Invitational All-Tournament team. Senior libero Amy Pauly was named SEC Defensive Player of the Week because of her play in the three matches. Pauly recorded a total of 49 digs, seven assists and four service aces as well as posting a season high 20 digs against Miami. She currently leads the team this season in digs with 76.
In a series dating back to 1989, Alabama leads Samford in wins 16-0. The last time the two teams met, Alabama swept Samford 3-0 in Birmingham. The Bulldogs are 6-1 on the year, with their only loss coming to New Orleans on Aug. 30 in Auburn. Samford was 2-1 at the War Eagle Invitational, beating Auburn 3-0 and Mercer 3-1. After a trip to Auburn, Samford traveled to Kansas City, Missouri and won the Kangaroo Klassic hosted by the University of Missouri-Kansas City. The Bulldogs beat Arkansas State, Missouri-Kansas City, Morgan State and Florida Atlantic.
Alabama leads the all-time series with South Florida 3-2. In the last meeting, Alabama pulled out a 3-1 win at home in 2001. The Bulls started the season hosting the South Florida Invitational, beating Grambling State 3-0, Eastern Kentucky 3-0 and Northeastern 3-1. After beating Seattle 3-1, South Florida traveled to Portland, Oregon to play in the Portland Nike Invitational. The Bulls fell to Arizona State 3-2, Kansas State 3-1 and Portland 3-2.
Saturday's meeting with Murray State is only the second time the two teams have met. Murray State beat the Tide 3-0 in 1997 at the Air Force Invitational in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The Racers started this season in the James Madison Tournament where they fell to Virginia 3-0 on Friday Aug. 29 before beating James Madison 3-2 and New Hampshire 3-2 on Saturday, Aug. 30. Last weekend, Murray State saw action in the Belmont Tournament where they topped Belmont 3-2 before falling to Furman 3-0 and IPFW 3-0.
"I think this tournament is going to be a challenge for all three teams involved," said Green. "The true test for us, as we near the conference matches, is to see if the edge we created in the off season is still there and if that edge separates us from other teams."
Tickets for all matches will be available at the door. Contact the Alabama Ticket Office at 1-877-TIDETIX or visit www.rolltide.com for more information. In addition, all fans who present a football ticket at the door will be let in free of charge. Those unable to attend Friday's matches can follow the action on the radio at WVUA-FM 90.7 in Tuscaloosa. Live stats will be available for all matches on www.rolltide.com
Crimson Tide Invitational Schedule (all times Central)
11 a.m., Murray State vs. South Florida
1 p.m., Alabama vs. Samford
4:30 p.m., Samford vs. Murray State
7 p.m., Alabama vs. South Florida
11 a.m., South Florida vs. Samford
1 p.m., Alabama vs. Murray State