By (Terrin Waack)

The Alabama volleyball team returned all of its starters from last season, but the team is still searching for its identity.

That process has slowed the team’s development down. It’s getting closer, but it’s just not quite there yet.

“Every team has a different identity,” coach Ed Allen said. “It doesn’t matter if the players are the same or not. They’re all different for different reasons, hopefully a good different but sometimes not a good different. That’s the problem we’ve encountered a little this year.”

Alabama’s preseason was rocky. It was plagued with injuries and close losses, but it survived. Allen said only time will tell if Alabama will be able to continue to overcome adversity – as it did against Missouri on Sunday when it won 3-2 after five close sets.

Senior Kryssi Daniels said the team has seen it all at this point.

“The way we have went through the adversity and we’re still not completely broken,” she said. “A lot of teams go through that and are just in shambles. Although it wasn’t the best, we still held it together pretty well. It could have been worse, and I’m surprised and really grateful for how well it’s worked out so far.”

Alabama finished 12-2 during its 2014 preseason, whereas this preseason, it finished 8-5.

Regardless of all that has gone wrong from the start of the season, there’s one thing that has gone right: the team is closer than ever.

“My favorite part of this year’s team is how close we are,” junior Brittany Thomas said. “It feels like a family. It’s more family-orientated. I feel like we’re really able to rely on one another and just be able to have really great open relationships.”

Daniels said this year’s team chemistry is unlike any other she’s seen.

“My first year here, we weren’t really mean to each other, but we weren’t as close as we are now,” she said. “Just as far as chemistry on the court, like holding each other accountable, that was nonexistent some of the first 
years here.“

The team will get together every once in a while and have a potluck, just as it did Friday. Daniels and Thomas brought spice cake to the gathering. Getting together outside of workouts, matches and practices is something the team enjoys doing.

“I’m going to miss that – I mean who doesn’t miss food being cooked for you?” Daniels said. “That’s one of the things I will miss the most, just having that sense of family always here.”

Alabama’s chemistry is more than fine off the court. It just needs to find some consistency within its matches.

It should be simple with all the starters back, but Alabama’s lineup this season is far from concrete.

“I’ve never had a team that we juggle people around as much as we have,” Allen said.

Apart from the returners, freshman Shannon Mikesky is out because of her Achilles, but fellow freshman Quincey Gary has had playing time and Allen said she brings a pressure to Alabama’s backcourt. Tabitha Brown has started some games for Alabama this season.

It will take time for Alabama to reach its full potential, but it’s making progress.

“It’s a team that’s struggling to be what it is capable of being,” Allen said.

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Source:: The Crimson White Sports