Volleyball Remains Undefeated, Earns Marcia E. Hamilton Classic Title

Aug. 30, 2014

ST. LOUIS, Mo. - Alabama wrapped up an undefeated weekend at the Marcia E. Hamilton Classic, earning a team tournament title and three All-Tournament honorees.

"I was real pleased with our performance, going 4-0," said Head Coach Ed Allen. "Anytime you have to play four matches in a weekend, it's always a tough stretch."

Alabama (4-0) went undefeated to earn the tournament title, defeating Memphis (1-2) and St. Louis (1-2) on Saturday. For their efforts, Sierra Wilson and Kat Hutson were named to the All-Tournament team while Krystal Rivers was named the Tournament MVP. Rivers led the team with 61 kills over the weekend along with 13 aces at the service line. Hutson had a great debut weekend for the Tide, notching 45 kills while Wilson paced the potent offense, pushing 181 assists for an average of 11.3 per set. Alabama's two new middle blockers, Leah Lawrence and Bruna Evangelista, were a force to be reckoned with at the net, hitting .358 and .500, respectively, while pairing up for a combined 33 blocks. Alabama's defense covered the whole court as well, with Kryssi Daniels snagging a team-leading 56 digs.

Alabama saw its 2-0 match lead evened by Memphis, forcing a deciding fifth set, where Alabama powered through to earn the hard-fought 3-2 victory to remain undefeated.

Alabama was paced offensively by Krystal Rivers, who set a new Chaifetz Arena record with 23 kills. The Crimson Tide's pair of new middle blockers, Leah Lawrence and Bruna Evangelista, each earned nine kills and five blocks while hitting .412 and .529, respectively. Three players had double-digit digs, led by Kryssi Daniels with 15.

Memphis (1-2) overcame a 2-0 match deficit to win sets three and four, but ultimately faltered in the final set. The Tigers were led at the pins by Kate Gibson with 17 kills, while she also added six blocks.

The two teams were evenly matched for the first half of the opening set, but Alabama started to pull away with a 6-2 run when tied 10-10 to pull ahead 16-12. Each team would score four points and Rivers would slam down a kill to pull the Tide ahead by five, 21-16, forcing a Memphis timeout. A kill by Evangelista brought up set point, 24-20, and she and Kat Hutson paired up for a block that secured the 25-20 set victory.

The momentum carried into set two, as Alabama built a 7-3 lead thanks in part to a pair of aces by Rivers, forcing an early timeout by the Tigers. The Tide kept battling to a seven-point lead as Memphis burned its final timeout with Alabama up 14-7. The Tide moved up by as much as 10, leading 19-9, before the Tigers started to claw back, drawing three, 22-19. Alabama reached set point, 24-19, and a service error made it a four-point game but a kill by Laura Steiner sealed the 25-20 victory.

Memphis flipped the script to start set three, scoring six unanswered points as the Tide took a timeout trailing 6-0. Alabama battled back to tie the score at 7-7 and the lead was traded back and forth for the majority of the set. It was still anybody's game in the late stages, with both teams tied at 22-22. Back-to-back points made it set point for Memphis, 24-22, and a kill by Evangelista staved off a loss but a kill by Oluchi Agomuo saved Memphis from the sweep and kept the Tigers alive.

The Tigers got off to a strong start again in set four, leading 7-3 before Alabama was forced to burn its first timeout. Each team scored four points and back-to-back points by Memphis made it a six-point game, 13-7, as Alabama took its final timeout. Memphis was able to hold the same lead, eventually leading by six, up 23-17. Memphis ended the set with a kill and an ace, forcing a deciding fifth set.

With the game down to a fifth and final set, Alabama came out strongly from the beginning and went up 8-4 at the mid-set switch. Memphis fought back within two, as Alabama took a timeout leading 10-8. The Tigers took their final timeout with the Tide up 13-9, but the teams traded points to make it match point for Alabama, 14-10. Memphis stayed alive with a pair of points to make it 14-12, but Rivers sealed the match victory with a kill up the middle to win the set, 15-12, and the match, 3-2.

Alabama closed out the weekend in convincing style, earning its first sweep of the weekend to down the host Saint Louis Billikens, 3-0, in the tournament finale. Kat Hutson had another fine outing at the outside pin, notching 13 kills on 31 swings with three service aces. Bruna Evangelista hit .438 on the match with nine kills while Leah Lawrence hit .583 with seven kills.

The two teams battled back and forth to open the first set, but tied at 9-9 Alabama started to pull away, using a 7-3 run to lead 16-12 as Saint Louis took its first timeout. The two teams would trade points with Alabama as the first to reach set point, 24-21, though the Billikens would creep close with back-to-back points to make it a 24-23 game as Alabama took a timeout. Rivers sealed it out of the break, as a kill gave the Tide a two-point victory in the opening frame.

Alabama scored the first point of set number two and would not allow the Billikens to move out in front, though the home team would keep it close. Tied at 10-10, Alabama rattled off four unanswered points to move up 14-10, forcing a Saint Louis timeout. The Billikens would eventually come back to tie it, 19-19, but the Tide would close things out with a 6-1 run to win set two, 25-20, and take a 2-0 match lead.

Eyeing a sweep, the Tide came out firing in the third, pulling ahead 8-2 to force an early frustrated timeout by the home team. Alabama kept cruising after the break, scoring back-to-back kills to move up 10-2. Saint Louis would battle back to a five-point deficit, down 15-10, and Alabama would hold the same lead at the 20-point mark, 20-15. Two points later, Alabama went up 22-15 and the Billikens took their final timeout. Up 24-19, Lawrence secured the sweep with a kill to give Alabama the 25-19 set victory and the 3-0 match sweep.

Alabama continues its season next weekend at the Cavalier Classic in Charlottesville, Va. The Tide will play three matches, starting on Friday, Sept. 5 against Navy at 3:30 p.m. CT. Alabama concludes the weekend with a pair of matches on Saturday, Sept. 6, facing LIU Brooklyn (11:30 a.m.) and Virginia (6 p.m.).