The Alabama volleyball team looks to take the positive momentum it’s been building at home on the road this weekend.
The Crimson Tide first travels to Tennessee on Friday then it’s right back on the road for Kentucky on Sunday. However, the back-to-back travel isn’t something the team dreads.
“We’re used to this SEC play, playing on Fridays and Sundays,” junior Krystal Rivers said. “It’s more of a normal schedule for us. It’ll be tough because it’s two road matches at two places that have great programs.”
Tennessee will have a 15-2 overall record when Alabama gets there. Kentucky is 7-5, but will face Mississippi State at home on Friday before Alabama comes.
“We have two days to prepare for Tennessee, a team that is really hot,” coach Ed Allen said. “It’s always tough to play them at home. Hopefully we can play one of our better matches.”
Last season, Alabama lost to Kentucky, 3-1, but defeated Tennessee by the same score but a reversed outcome. The last time Alabama beat Kentucky was during its 2012 season, 3-1. That was also the last time it lost to Tennessee, 3-0.
Alabama has split its away matches so far this season, 2-2. Travel this time is different from the preseason travel that comes with tournaments.
“It’s all a blur,” senior Sierra Wilson said. “I remember the games. The travel is just something you get through. It’s all about mental preparation for what we’re actually traveling for, what we came here to do.”
Because the team has to miss class for travel sometimes, Wilson said she takes advantage of the long bus rides to do her homework. It’ll be easier travel since the team is taking a bus rather than flying, Allen said.
“I think compartmentalizing things and focusing on just handling what you need to do academically and then handling what you need to do physically as a volleyball player,” Allen said. “Those two things are the only things you think about during these times.”
The key is for players to focus on each match and take care of their bodies. The traveling can be draining since it’s back-to-back this weekend. Rest is vital in order to be successful, both academically and physically.
This weekend’s lineup has Wilson excited and eager. The team had a rocky preseason and is starting to find its identity once again. She’s looking forward to seeing what the team is made of on the road.
Rivers also said she thinks the team is starting to rediscover itself.
“We still have our moments where things just aren’t going as well,” she said. “We’re a little bit inconsistent, [but] we’re working hard at it. Every game has been better. It’s going to keep gelling.”
Consistency is what Alabama needs to keep its momentum and win. Allen said Rivers and sophomore Kat Hutson are returning to the form they were in last year, which he said is critical to the team. He also hopes freshman Tabitha Brown will continue to take steps forward s well.
This weekend, Allen said he wants his team to simply execute and be a team that plays consistently and intelligently.
After sweeping Alabama State Tuesday night, the Crimson Tide is 7-8 overall, 1-0 SEC. It’ll play Tennessee at 6 p.m. Friday and Kentucky at 12:30 p.m. Sunday.
“It’s going to be a challenging weekend,” Allen said.
Source:: The Crimson White Sports