Friday, September 06, 2002
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TUSCALOOSA – After battling through some home opening jitters, the University of Alabama volleyball team settled down and cruising to a 3-0 (30-25, 30-16, 30-18) sweep over West Virginia in UA’s opening match of the 2002 Crimson Tide Invitational.
The win extended Alabama’s season starting win streak to five matches while WVU fell to 2-2 on the season. With the victory, UA head coach Judy Green also moved into a tie for 20th with Mountaineer mentor Veronica Hammersmith on the NCAA Division I all-time winningest active head coaches with 490 career wins.
“Once we found our rhythm, we played a pretty solid match,” said Green. “I thought our defense was outstanding tonight. We kept a lot of rallies alive with some big digs. I also felt like our blocking was much improved. We were actually able to terminate some attacks with our block. It was a great way to open our home tournament.”
The Tide looked a little sluggish to start the match but West Virginia was unable to capitalize on several early Bama miscues. With the match still close midway through the opening game, sophomore setter Kenna Milner sparked the Tide with a five-point run from the service line as UA moved ahead 17-13. The margin stayed constant for several possessions until sophomore Julie Farley used some strong serving to score five more unanswered points to put the Tide up 26-19. West Virginia attempted a late charge but Alabama was able to hold on to earn the 30-25 win.
West Virginia again started quickly in the second frame taking the early advantage. Trailing 10-7, Alabama turned its play up a level scoring 11 of the next 12 points including eight on Farley’s serve that included back-to-back aces in the run. The Tide kept the pressure on from the service line as WVU struggled to find any continuity on offense. Alabama closed the game with a 22-6 run earning a 30-16 victory.
The Tide maintained its momentum at the beginning of the third game jumping out to an 8-2 lead on a Milner ace. WVU trimmed the Bama margin but two straight aces from Erin Price pushed the UA lead back to seven points and Alabama never looked back earning the straight game sweep with the 30-18 win in the final game.
Alabama clicked on offense hitting at a season-high .320 clip while limiting the Mountaineers to just a .013 hitting percentage. Erin Heffner led the Tide assault with her fourth double-double of the year posting a team-best 16 kills and 11 digs. Sophomore middle blocker Kory Tull finished with 10 kills, her first career double-digit kill performance. UA tallied eight team blocks to just four by WVU and also served up 10 aces, marking the fifth consecutive match the squad has reached double figures in that category.
Stephanie Zolna paced the West Virginia offense with eight kills with Kristi King topping the squad with six digs. WVU sophomore setter Brandice Studnicka, the sister of Bama senior setter Bridget, led the Mountaineers with 12 assists.
In the event’s opening match, Missouri defeated McNeese State, 3-0 (30-28, 30-23, 30-21) . Tournament action at the Crimson Tide Invitational continues on Saturday with four matches beginning at 11 a.m. when Missouri takes on West Virginia. Alabama starts play at 1 p.m. against McNeese State. The night session begins with a 5 p.m. match between West Virginia and McNeeese followed at 7:30 p.m. by Alabama and Missouri.
Alabama (5-0) 30 30 30
West Virginia (2-2) 25 16 18