Volleyball Set to Kick Off 2014 Season in St. Louis


Aug. 28, 2014


This weekend, Alabama Volleyball kicks off the 2014 season with four matches at the Marcia E. Hamilton Classic.

Friday, Aug. 29
vs. Northern Iowa - Noon CT
vs. Southeastern Missouri - 5 p.m. CT
Saturday, Aug. 30
vs. Memphis - 2 p.m. CT
at Saint Louis - 7 p.m. CT

Alabama (2013 Record: 24-10, 11-7 SEC) - The Crimson Tide are coming off a historic 2013 season, tallying the most wins at Alabama in nearly two decades and making the first NCAA Tournament appearance under Head Coach Ed Allen, who enters his fourth season at Alabama in 2014. Alabama returns three AVCA All-South Region honorees this season, welcoming back Krystal Rivers (RS So. - RS), Sierra Wilson (Jr. - S) and Brittany Thomas (So. - OH).

Redshirt sophomore Krystal Rivers has been selected to the preseason All-SEC team, announced on Aug. 12 by the conference office.

After redshirting the 2012 season, Rivers had a breakout debut campaign in 2013, garnering All-SEC and SEC All-Freshmen honors, as well as a spot on the AVCA All-South Region team. She led the team with 435 kills and a school-record .404 hitting percentage, beating the previous single-season record of .401 that had stood since 1978.

Alabama was also selected fifth in the preseason coaches' poll with 102 points, slotted behind Florida (144), Kentucky (129), Missouri (114) and LSU (105).

Junior-college transfer Bruna Evangelista was recognized for an outstanding 2013 season at Blinn College, as she was named the National Junior College Athletic Association's Female Student-Athlete of the Year for the 2013-14 season. The award is given to the top female student-athlete across all sports at the junior college level.

Evangelista comes to Tuscaloosa following two very succesful seasons at Blinn College. She was named the National Championship Tournament MVP in 2013 after leading the Buccaneers to a NJCAA title, tallying 23 kills in the title match while still recovering from a broken thumb. She earned All-American honors in both seasons at Blinn and finished her two-year career with 852 kills and a .383 hitting percentage.

Junior setter Sierra Wilson has 2,743 career assists through two seasons, which ranks fifth all-time in Alabama history. She is just 257 shy of becoming only the fifth player in school history to surpass 3,000 career assists. The last player to surpass 3,000 career assists for the Tide was Allison Lange (1997-2000), who ended her career with 4,215 assists.

Alabama Career Assists Leaders
1.  5,578  Brigitte Slack  2004-07
2.  4,333  Jennifer Miller  1989-92
3.  4,215  Allison Lange  1997-2000
4.  3,506  Erin Tenbrunsel  1992-95
5.  2,743  Sierra Wilson  2012-Pres.

- Alabama finished the season with a 24-10 record, the most wins for the Tide since the 1995 season.
- The Tide made its fourth appearance in the NCAA Tournament in 2013, the first since 2007 and the first under Head Coach Ed Allen.
- Krystal Rivers was named to the All-SEC team and SEC All-Defensive Team
- Krystal Rivers, Sierra Wilson and Brittany Thomas were each named AVCA All-South Region and honorable mention All-American.
- Krystal Rivers set a new single-season record at Alabama, hitting .404 (435/10/821). This beats the previosus record of .401, set back in 1978 by Cindy Vordenbaum.
- Sierra Wilson's 1,450 assists rank third in single-season school history and mark just the fifth time in program history that a player surpassed 1,400 assists in a single season.
- Alabama's .254 team hitting percentage and 1,620 assists both rank fifth in single-season school history.

Ed Allen ON THE 2014 TEAM
"We're probably most deep in the outside position, though we're also pretty banged up there. Brittany Thomas will be a key cornerstone there as a six-rotation player. She has a successful year of experience under her belt and she's continuing to develop as a player. She's understanding things much better and developing fundamentally. We have two returning upperclassmen in Mattie Weldy and Laura Steiner who each bring two years of experience. They're battling nagging injuries but they're doing a great job of providing depth and experience. We expect both to play and we expect Kat Hutson to see time out there as well. She's a solid banger who brings tremendous size and competitiveness. We think they give us some great options and Bria Green or Emily Stebbins could even slide in as a utility player and play the outside."

"We return Katherine White as a three-year starter. She has more experience, focus and is much more competitive. The three years that she has been here has helped with that so she'll do a great job of being a blocker for us in the middle. Bruna Evangelista will be a good blocker but she will really bring some offense to us at that position. She played at a very high level in Brazil and at Blinn College. She'll be able to figure it out in competitive situations so she will provide depth and an incredible amount of experience. We believe Leah Lawrence will blossom into one of the best middle blockers in the SEC over the next couple years. She will be a tremendous blocker for us and will be able to generate some offense."

RIGHT SIDE "We're moving a very gifted player in Krystal Rivers out there so that hopefully we can generate more swings for her and give her legs a little rest to help with the wear-and-tear of the season. It will give her some opportunities to come out of the back row and add some versatility to her game. The longer she plays there and gets experience, I believe she is going to be one of the best right-side players in the country. In general, the size that we've added all along the front row is going to make us a better team. Others like Bria Green or Haley Little will also be able to spell Krystal when needed."

"Sierra Wilson is very gifted and has the keys to a sports car with this offense. She has a very talented team to work with and will need to process those options and realize, at times, that there really isn't a bad option with this team. That will make things a lot more simplistic and she won't have to worry about trying to be deceptive and can just focus on delivering a ball that's extremely hittable."

"We return Kryssi Daniels, who has been our starting libero over the last two years. She'll be a lot more relaxed and will have a lot more savvy. We bring Caitlin Bernardin back as well and she'll come off the bench and spell some of the defensive players. She was a starter for most of last year so she brings great depth and experience at that position. Natalie Murison will play for us and she gives us a great pair of hands on the court. She's a great passer, defender and is very disciplined with her movement. Reagan Petty and Brooke Feld will also add great depth as freshmen and should be able to step in and give any of our players a break when needed. Bria Green will also potentially find some time in the back row like she did last season."

Next weekend, Alabama will head to Charlottesville, Va., and the campus of the University of Virginia for the Cavalier Classic, starting on Friday, Sept. 5. On Friday, the Tide will face Navy (3:30 p.m. CT) and will wrap up the weekend with a pair of matches on Saturday against LIU Brooklyn (11:30 a.m.) and Virginia (6 p.m.).