The University of Alabama volleyball team is coming off of a 3-0 weekend at home in the Hampton Inn Bama Bash. The perfect weekend is something the Crimson Tide hasn’t accomplished since the 2014 season, but heading into this weekend’s Hampton Inn Crimson-White, the team is more focused on what it did wrong last weekend than what it did right.
“We can very well win and still do some things poorly,” coach Ed Allen said. “That doesn’t keep us from emphasizing those pieces.”
One of the areas Allen is looking for improved play is the play of the team’s setters. Redshirt freshman Shannon Mikesky is the team’s captain and the starter, but freshman Alexa Tomlak has also seen some playing time recently. Allen said the goal is to improve the production from the setter position and to get both players to a level where they can be solid contributors.
Part of practice this week has also been focused on getting freshman Mahalia Swank acclimated to playing with the starting lineup. Allen said that junior outside hitter Kat Hutson is dealing with an undisclosed injury and will not be in the lineup for this weekend’s slate of games. The plan is to play Swank in Hutson’s place.
“Mahalia’s going to see time at the L1 position, and maybe see time all year long at that position,” Allen said. “We’re trying to get her situated there. We’re trying to get both of our setters work…it’s been really focusing on our rotations and getting those two acclimated to the lineup.”
The typical practice for Alabama is around three and a half hours and consists of multiple stages. The team always works on their passing before practice and works on serving, receiving and defense during that time period as well.
The team will put in work on their fundamentals before scrimmaging and working on plays. At the end of practice, the team will usually lift weights and work on conditioning.
“Practice is where we come in and work hard and get the job done,” freshman outside hitter Hayley McSparin said. “[We] work on what we did not do well in the previous matches.”
For this week, the team has been focused on its defense and blocking, two areas that Allen has often pointed to as places where the team needs to improve.
“We always need to work on defense,” sophomore libero Quincey Gary said. “Defense is really, really key, and especially service receiving too because the first ball contact is really key.”
Passing is also something that the team has done extra work on this week, as Gary said the team really needs to focus on that this week.
Besides the court work, there is off the court work the team does to prepare for an opponent. The team will identify key players and the tactics of each opponent.
“We watch film, try to figure out tendencies in each of the rotations, try to figure out where the matchups are that create advantages to us in particular rotations and try to figure out what rotations we want to start against them,” Allen said.
The Crimson Tide plays East Tennessee State to kick off its participation in the Hampton Inn Crimson-White Tournament on Friday night at 7 p.m. The weekend continues on Saturday, with an 11 a.m. match against Presbyterian and a 7 p.m. match against Georgia Southern.
Source:: The Crimson White Sports