By (Cody Estremera)

The Alabama volleyball team had a rocky start to Friday’s match against East Tennessee State.

The two teams split the first two sets. When they came back from their locker rooms, though, Alabama played like a completely different team.

“At first we played their game, not ours,” junior middle blocker Leah Lawrence said. “We worked on coming out with more energy and focus.”

The Crimson Tide pulled through with a 3-1 win.

Alabama moved to a 9-2 record on the season. Coach Ed Allen said the team has achieved this record because of redshirt senior Krystal Rivers.

“She’s leading the country in points per set and kills per set,” Allen said. “It’s pretty simple, without her we aren’t 9-2. She had another terrific performance tonight. She does a good job of anchoring the defense. It’s unfortunate how heavily we have to rely on her, but we are dominated by her presence offensively.”

Rivers had another big game for the Crimson Tide. She finished with 27 kills, bringing her kills on the season to 240 and coming two kills away from tying her career-high. Rivers also led Alabama in aces with three and had 32 of the team’s 62 points.

Before the Friday’s match, Rivers was ranked No. 3 in the NCAA in kills and No. 5 in total points.

“She’s unreal,” sophomore Quincey Gary said. “She makes some spectacular plays. I don’t even know how she does them. We all look up to her and she’s a great leader for this team.”

Alabama was without one of its All-American players Friday in Kat Hutson, due to an undisclosed injury. Allen said the team can’t replace an All-American, but it can just put someone else in the game.

In place of Hutson was true freshman Mahalia Swink, recording her first start as a collegiate athlete.

“Coach always talks about the people on the bench to be ready whenever they are need,” Lawrence said. “If the people on the court aren’t doing well, the people on the bench need to step up and take the level of play even higher when they get on the court. We did that tonight. We should have started that match faster, and helped Mahalia to get in the rhythm of the game a little more.”

Swink finished the night with five kills.

The Crimson Tide plays its next game against Presbyterian College on Saturday at 11 a.m. in Foster Auditorium.

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Source:: The Crimson White Sports