By (Terrin Waack)

The Alabama volleyball team faced both ends of the spectrum this weekend. It got swept by Kentucky on Friday, 3-0, but on Sunday against Georgia, the match finished 3-0 – this time in favor of the Crimson Tide.

“Friday’s match was frustrating,” sophomore Leah Lawrence said. “We didn’t play well.”

Kentucky defeated Alabama with scores of 25-15, 25-22 and 25-18.

The team had an early Saturday morning practice to figure out what it needed to focus on and correct in order to be successful on Sunday.

Then the Crimson Tide came out and the practiced paid off.

“We controlled what we needed to,” Lawrence said. “We used what we practice and we played our way.”

Alabama won its three sets against Georgia on scores of 25-18, 25-17 and 25-15. It also kept the Bulldogs to a 0.067 hitting percentage, marking the best Alabama has done within its conference play this season.

“We had a very tough match Friday against Kentucky and then showed some resiliency, some competitiveness and played extremely well against a Georgia team that’s kind of struggled this year,” coach Ed Allen said.

During the second and third set, Alabama took the lead right from the start and held it through the end. It did not allow the Bulldogs to tie it up or switch the lead during those two sets.

Krystal Rivers led the team with 10 kills, but Lawrence, at middle, had a personal season-high 0.625 hitting percentage – also the highest percentage against Georgia between both teams.

“Leah Lawrence did a really good job not only attacking, but stepping up at the service line and really creating some momentum for us there,” 
Allen said.

Lawrence led the team with four aces with no errors. At middle, sophomore Emily Stebbins had nine kills, hitting 0.500. She also led the team 
with five blocks.

Throughout the three matches, Stebbins could be seen smiling and cheering along with teammates on 
the court.

“It’s definitely very empowering,” Stebbins said. “I’m trying not to get a little cocky sometimes where I’m like, ‘Oh yeah! Here we go!’ but it just felt great contributing in a really big win.”

Stebbins wasn’t alone. With momentum on Alabama’s side, all of the players were energized. When in game settings such as the one against Georgia, the team just relaxes and plays how 
it should.

“When we’re all relaxed, it just flows better on the court,” Lawrence said. “There’s no frantic movements or anything like that. Nobody is uptight. We’re just moving together really well.”

In an ideal situation, Lawrence gets the third ball. When everyone relaxes, that happens easily. She said when the passers are at ease, they pass the ball better to Sierra, who then sets better balls to hitters like Lawrence.

“Then, when I’m relaxed, I can focus on what I need to do: swing and get kills,” Lawrence said.

It’s a process. One thing leads to another, and when it all goes according to plan, better results are shown.

For the players, it’s not just about them however. They care about how the fans feel, and after Friday’s match, they felt they needed to do better for their fans just as much as they needed to for themselves.

“It’s so nice to have a good sweep on the court, just to give the fans a really good show – I love it,” Stebbins said.

The win over Georgia makes Alabama now 10-12, 4-4 SEC.

Lawrence said winning is awesome – it’s one of the reasons she plays. This sweep in particular was 
self-rewarding however.

“It’s nice being able to celebrate a good win and know that we did everything we could to improve what we needed to and work on what we needed to, and it showed,” she said.

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Source:: The Crimson White Sports