By (Terrin Waack)

In the state of Alabama, when talking about volleyball, the University defeats the State.

The Crimson Tide (7-8, 1-0 SEC) swept Alabama State, 3-0, Tuesday night. It won on set scores of 25-18, 25-12 and 25-22 for the first Alabama sweep of the season.

It wasn’t just a physical win, however. It was a mental win given the team’s energy and enthusiasm during its play.

“I think coming out of preseason, we were a little shaky with our confidence,” senior setter Sierra Wilson said. “We’ve kind of been through the ringer with the team, with our own mindset.”

The victory was a huge confidence boost the team needed.

Its second set was its best set this season for Alabama. It marked the largest margin of victory, 25-12. It was most consistent in this set.

“If we stay consistent in all aspects of our play, then I think we’ll be seeing a lot more of that kind of play as the season goes on,” Wilson said.

Coach Ed Allen said in the first two sets, the team played pretty well offensively and reasonably well defensively. He was happy with how the players performed as the service line as well.

Rising junior Krystal Rivers had a 1.000 hitting percentage with eight kills in the first two sets. She said it was a great feeling.

“Sierra [Wilson] was giving me great looks at the ball,” she said. “I was getting great swings. It helps boost my confidence. I’m still getting used to being in the middle a bit so it helps boost my confidence a lot.”

Although she played at middle her freshman year, Rivers played as a right side hitter last year. She said the transition back is getting smoother as the game wear on. It’s mainly getting used to the timing with the setter, Wilson.

At the end of set three, Rivers hit 0.600. At the start of preseason, Rivers was recovering from an injury. Now, Allen said she’s returning back to the form she was in the last couple of years and has been hitting consistently with high percentages.

“That’s what this team is missing more than anything else, a played that we can lean on in moments where it is tough and you can just ship the ball to her and she can just make plays,” he said.

Wilson said having someone like Rivers out there for her to set to takes pressure off her shoulders. It’s her job to put the hitters in the best position. She said it’s easier to do that when the hitters do their own job and set up opportunities for her.

The third set, however, wasn’t as well played as they would have liked.

“We had some players that had been playing for us and broke down,” Allen said. “Passing broke down a couple of times. We had some questionable calls. We had some attackers take some swings that were less than intelligent swings.”

When Alabama had these things happen, Alabama State gained momentum. This is why set three’s score gap is the smallest. The Crimson Tide lost its consistency.

All the way until the last point, Alabama State fans were loud and proud. They would chant and cheer for the Hornets while Alabama served and would make comments when it would make an error.

It didn’t faze the Crimson Tide though. Wilson said she draws energy from it.

“I love it when fans are kind of hissing, booing and cheering against me,” she said. “I think it’s fun.”

She’s not alone either. Rivers said she barely even noticed it since she doesn’t focus on the crowd. She thought it was great there were Hornet fans and even twisted it into a positive thing.

“It’s great that they thought they needed to bring their fans out to our gym because they know what kind of atmosphere that we can bring here,” she said.

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Source:: The Crimson White Sports