TUSCALOOSA, Al. – Under second year head coach Rashinda Reed, the Alabama women’s volleyball team opened its season this weekend with the Crimson Invitational. The home quad-match spanned two days and featured Mississippi Valley State, St. Louis and Mercer.
The starting lineup against all three opponents saw several returners: Chaise Campbell and Alyiah Wells in the middle, Micah Gryniewicz and Kendyl Reaugh on the outside and Sydney Gholson at Libero. Following the transfer of Brooke Slusser, freshman Callie Kieffer took over at setter. Most notably, freshman Kyla Dunaway beat out veteran Sami Jacobs for the starting opposite job. Junior Vic Schmer acted as primary DS for the opposite.
Bringing just 7 players, the minimum for any sort of competitive volleyball team, the Devils were no match for the Tide. Alabama swept MVSU 3-0 (25-8, 25-10, 25-14).
Later that night, the Tide faced off against the St. Louis Billikens. In set one, the Billikens seemed to have an inability to serve receive, struggling to run an offense. The Tide shot out to a 14-4 lead and never looked back, taking set one 25-9.
Set 2 saw a similar early lead for Alabama at 14-6, but a tough streak of attacking errors allowed the Billikens to claw back to a 14-9 deficit. However, a well-called timeout by Coach Reed allowed the Tide to take a commanding 20-10 lead, going on to win set two 25-17.
The Billikens got out to a lead early in the third set, leaving the Tide out of sorts before attaining a 12-11 lead off a St. Louis attacking error. A Gryniewicz kill helped widen the lead to 18-14. An ace by Vic Schmer secured the win and the sweep as the Tide took the set 25-20 and the match 3-0 (25-9, 25-17, 25-20).
The Mercer Bears, despite a loss in 5 to St. Louis the day before, were easily the most challenging opponent of the weekend for the Tide. Even so, the Tide were able to establish a 15-9 lead mid-way through set one, eventually winning set one 25-18.
Similarly, the Tide took a 15-10 lead to begin set one before closing out set two with a 25-16 win off a Sydney Gholson ace. Set three was much tighter, as an Alabama attacking error set the score at 17-14 in favor of the Tide. With a Mercer attack out of bounds, the Tide took set three 25-21 and the match 3-0 (25-18, 25-16, 25-21).
An undefeated weekend with no sets dropped in the home Crimson Invitational is an impressive start for the Tide. Aside from some missed serves and a handful of youthful setting moments, the team looks ready to compete in a tough SEC.
The Tide improves to 3-0 (0-0) to start the season, with the Green Wave Classic next up on the schedule.
Elliot Scully serves as WVUA-FM’s senior volleyball writer. Follow Elliot on X at @elliottscull.