Sept. 1, 2012
ELON, N.C. – Behind a .340 hitting percentage, the Alabama women’s volleyball team defeated the Gardner-Webb Bulldogs 3-0 (25-17, 25-15, 26-24) in the Elon Phoenix Classic on Saturday morning. Pricilla Duke-Ezeji led the Crimson Tide with 13 kills and finished the day with a .346 hitting percentage. With the win, Alabama improves to 5-1 on the season while the loss drops Gardner-Webb’s record to 0-6.
“Today was a more consistent performance offensively as our attacking numbers for each of the sets was within 20 points of each other,” head coach Ed Allen said. “We would like to see more consistency defensively. We can be better at recognizing what’s happening in front of us, particularly at the net in blocking. We did a reasonable job serving, but would like to see our aces to error ratio a little higher. But again, the players continue to learn to play with one another and are growing as a team.”
For the Tide, six players combined to tally all 47 kills. Freshman outside hitter Laura Steiner joined Duke-Ezeji in double figures with a season-high 11 kills. Steiner had a .280 hitting percentage as she made four errors on 25 total swings. Katherine White had a career-high eight kills in the match and hit .636 with just one error on 11 attempts.
“Katherine’s performance over the course of the year had been great, based on where she started a year ago and where she is today,” Allen said. “She’s able to see the game in front of her and recognizes what’s going on, and she probably our best blocker right now. Offensively, she’s starting to time the slide a lot better and getting her feet in position. She’s really starting to become a dependable offensive player for us and an anchor for our defense.”
Andrea McQuaid finished the day with nine kills on 19 swings with a couple errors and Leigh Moyer and Kanesha Burch added three kills each from the middle blocker position. Sierra Wilson had 39 assists with nine digs and two aces, Yukie Futami had a match-high 12 digs and Kryssi Daniels added two aces and three digs.
With the straight sets victory over Gardner-Webb, Alabama has won the last 12 sets played this season.
In the opening set, Steiner came off the bench to drop seven kills on the Bulldogs, as the Tide had 15 kills in the set. With the Tide leading 13-11, Alabama put together a 5-0 run to open an 18-11 lead. After GWU scored three straight points to cut the UA lead to 18-14, the Tide outscored the Bulldogs 7-3 to take the first set 25-17. Alabama hit .345 in the first set while holding GWU to a .143 mark in the opening frame.
In the second set, Alabama opened a 5-1 lead before GWU cut the deficit to 8-6. The Tide responded with a 9-2 run to open a 17-10 lead, before closing out the set 25-15. UA hit .342 for the set while holding the Bulldogs to a -.028 mark.
Gardner-Webb opened the third set with an 8-2 lead before the Tide rallied to even the score at 13-13 following a kill by White. Alabama’s biggest lead of the set was 19-16 following an ace by Daniels, but GWU evened the score at 22-22 following a set error by Wilson. After four straight side outs, UA got a kill by McQuaid and an error by Gardner-Webb’s Tyler Cockrell to end the match.
Alabama returns to action on Friday, Sept. 7 against Lamar at 11:30 a.m. on day one of the Hampton Inn Bama Bash from Foster Auditorium. Later that day, UA will play Austin Peay with first serve at 7 p.m. CT.
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