Sunday, October 20, 2002
» Box Score
TUSCALOOSA – The Alabama volleyball team salvaged a weekend split of Southeastern Conference action with a hard-fought 3-1 (30-24, 27-30, 30-28, 30-21) victory over Kentucky on Sunday afternoon at the CAVE.
The victory gave the Tide a sweep of the Wildcats for this season and snapped a two-match losing skid for Alabama. UA is now 14-8 overall and 5-3 in SEC play while Kentucky slips to 8-11 and 2-6 in the league. The win was also the 499th of Coach Judy Green’s career.
“Today was a very gutty performance by our team,” said Green. “I’m real proud of the effort we showed in this match. We fought through some tough spots and earned an important victory. I feel like the real difference was the play of our defense in game three and four. It was good for us to get back on the winning track.”
The Crimson Tide dominated play in the early going of game one using a 5-0 run to take a 7-3 advantage. Bama held onto its lead and broke the frame open with a 7-0 run on Jennifer Bibber’s serve to earn a 21-9 lead. Kentucky made a late five-point surge to close the UA margin but Bibber again quieted the Kats serving up a game-winning ace for the 30-24 Alabama win.
Game two was a back-and-forth affair for the entire contest with neither team holding larger than a three-point lead. UK maintained a lead for much of the frame as the Wildcats got things clicking offensively. Kentucky out-hit the Tide .357 to .214 in the game en route to earning the 30-27 victory. The Kats front line finished the second stanza with four team blocks to keep the UA offense out of synch.
The third game was another highly competitive round as the two squads treated the fans to a side-out battle. Midway through the frame the Tide pushed in front 17-11 only to see Kentucky claw its way back to close the UA lead to just two points at 25-23. Alabama reached game point but UK refused to quit scoring three straight kills to make the score 29-28 before Erin Heffner smashed a thunderous kill for the Tide’s final point.
Neither squad could grab the early momentum in the fourth stanza as both teams took their turns in the lead. With the score knotted at 20, Alabama turned up the pressure offensively and on the service line. The Tide closed the deciding game with a 10-1 run to earn the match victory. The two-headed attack of Heffner and Bibber proved too strong down the stretch as the Tide duo accounted for the team’s final six points.
Heffner, the SEC leader in kills, continued her dominant play in conference action finishing with 27 kills. Bibber added 17 kills as the only other Bama player in double digits. Kory Tull posted a career-best 15 digs to pace the Tide defense. Kentucky was led in kills by Kristen Batt with 12. A trio of Wildcat players had 10 or more digs and Amy Kaplan’s seven blocks led UK to a 12-3 edge in blocking for the match.
Alabama hits the road for a pair of matches this week as the Tide travels to the Plains on Tuesday to face in-state rival Auburn at 7 p.m. Bama has won 11 consecutive matches against in-state opponents and a win against the Tigers would mark the 500th for Coach Judy Green. The Crimson Tide visits Tennessee at 7 p.m. (ET) on Friday night.
Alabama (14-8, 5-3 SEC) 30 27 30 30
Kentucky (8-11, 2-6 SEC) 24 30 28 21