By (James Ogletree)

The Alabama volleyball team lost its match against Tennessee 3-0 on Friday night, despite repeatedly narrowing deficits faced and regaining momentum. The loss dropped the Crimson Tide to 15-8 overall and 4-6 in conference play.

Tennessee claimed the first set 25-15, and Alabama had more errors (13) than kills (11). The second and third sets, however, were tightly contested. Only once in those two sets did either team take a lead of more than three points.

Alabama took a 13-10 lead in the third set, prompting a timeout by Tennessee, which earned four consecutive points out of the timeout to take the lead. The Volunteers later led 18-16, but the Crimson Tide rebounded to lead 23-21 and regain hope of extending the match. Tennessee won the next four points, the third set, and the match.

“Any player is going to have those matches where you just have an off match. [Tonight was] just one of those nights,” middle blocker Krystal Rivers said. “…It was just trying to find some type of rhythm and that starts with being aggressive.”

Rivers, who has been named SEC Offensive Player of the Week four times this season, struggled early on, with a negative hitting percentage in the first set. Despite leading the team in digs and recording her seventh double-double of the season, Rivers did not perform to her usual standard.

Rivers appeared more determined and aggressive after the intermission following the second set. She said she had to persevere through a difficult match to try to get back on track.

Rivers led the team with 15 kills and added 10 digs for her double-double. Only junior Natalie Murison had more digs, with 12. Murison also had the Tide’s only service ace. Freshman setter Alexa Tomlak made her first career start in place of Shannon Mikesky, and she led the team in assists (33) for the second consecutive match.

The team faced a deficit for the majority of its time on the floor, but Rivers said the members of the team drew their motivation and enthusiasm from one another.

“Whenever we’re down, we just try to keep talking and give each other energy,” Rivers said.

Alabama’s team hitting percentage was .100, its lowest of the season, while Tennessee’s was .222. The Crimson Tide had only three blocks, while the Volunteers had 13.5.

Rivers said the team’s biggest concern before its next game is ensuring it will have enough intensity to earn a much-needed home win.

“We just need to work on coming out here and competing. We’re playing in our home gym, we gotta protect it, we gotta compete and play our hardest,” Rivers said.

Alabama will host the Kentucky Wildcats (16-5, 9-1 SEC) on Sunday at 1:30 p.m. CT.

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Source:: The Crimson White Sports