By (Ben Boynton)

Redshirt senior Krystal Rivers just earned her second consecutive SEC Offensive Player of the Week honor earlier this week. She leads Alabama and the entire SEC with 213 kills. In fact, only Anna Logan of Butler has more kills than Rivers in the entire country right now with 216. The prolific week and season has Rivers in third place in Alabama program history in kills, and she’s just 49 kills shy of moving into second. Rivers said before the season that she felt like the team would break some records this season it’s entirely possible that it’s Rivers herself who does the record-breaking. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the possibility of her reaching the top spot in kills in program history.

Rank Name Kills Years Played1Erin Heffner2,0902001-20042Michelle Green1,7041997-20003Krystal Rivers1,6562013-present4Kristye Hall1,6141989-1992

The above table shows Rivers and her position relative to the top four in program history. Considering Rivers is currently averaging 21.3 kills per match, it is not unreasonable to predict that Rivers’s ascent to second place will take place in the Crimson Tide’s match Saturday night against Georgia Southern. Rivers is averaging 5.33 kills per set, so it is possible the Crimson Tide could play in a five-set match or two that helps her get there earlier, but Rivers should wake up Sunday morning in second place. What about Erin Heffner’s first place total? 2,090 kills is a full 386 kills more than 1,704, and would require Rivers to post a season total of 648 kills to take sole possession of first. That’s a very high total from one player, but it isn’t impossible.

Rank Player Kills Rank Player Kills Rank Player Kills1Nina Foster7384Erin Heffner5997Kristye Hall5692Sue Faris6445Erin Heffner5768Krystal Rivers5573Kristye Hall6186Michelle Green5729Nina Foster551

The above table lists the nine best individual seasons in Alabama history. You’ll notice Rivers with the eighth best season, which she posted in 2014, when she was an AVCA Third-Team All-American. You’ll also probably see the other career leaders in kills littered throughout the list, with Heffner, Hall, and Green accounting for five of the other eight spots. Finally, you may notice that 648 kills is quite a lofty season from a historical perspective. That total would put Rivers’s 2016 season in second place all-time behind Nina Foster’s incredible 1994 season.

But it’s still not impossible. Rivers put up 451 kills last season, and 557 the season prior. At her current 21.3 kills per match pace, Rivers would finish the year with 660 kills, more than enough to earn her the top spot. However, there are a lot of factors that could change her pace. The Crimson Tide has played at least four sets in all but one match this season, which gives Rivers more opportunities to post kills.

In addition, with all due respect to programs like Incarnate Word and South Dakota, SEC teams may prove more talented and better defensively, and as a result could give up fewer kills.

There are factors that work in Rivers’s favor. She has more than twice the number of kills as her second-place teammate Kat Hutson, and is very clearly the priority on offense. Especially when she’s on a hot streak, Alabama makes a very obvious effort to get the ball to Rivers.

That isn’t likely to change, especially considering the strong season Rivers is having. She’s clearly playing the best volleyball of her career, and her career-high 38 kills in a five-set match against Southern Miss last Friday night shows what she can do when she’s at the top of her game.

In the end, it’s still going to take a career year from Rivers to get to the top spot. She has to average 21.3 kills per match for the 21 matches remaining to get the 447 kills she needs to reach it, but it’s certainly an attainable goal. Before the past three matches, Rivers was averaging 22 kills per match, and she didn’t play in half of the Northwestern State match.

Regardless of whether she makes the top spot, Rivers should end her Alabama career no worse than second in career kills, and will leave Tuscaloosa as one of the very best to play in Foster Auditorium.

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Source:: The Crimson White Sports