Oct. 24, 2013
Tuscaloosa, Ala. - Alabama (16-5/4-3 SEC) will play a pair of Southeastern Conference road matches this week. The Crimson Tide opens the weekend on Friday night when it travels to Athens, Ga., for a 6 p.m. CT match against the Georgia Bulldogs (15-6/5-4 SEC) from the Ramsey Center. Alabama closes the weekend on Sunday with its second game of the season against the No. 15 Kentucky Wildcats. First serve between the Tide and Wildcats is scheduled for 12:30 p.m. CT from Memorial Gymnasium.
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For the season, the Tide is averaging 14.28 kills per set with a .269 hitting percentage, to rank fourth and third respectively in the SEC. Alabama volleyball team ranks in the top-30 nationally in three categories, ranking 23rd nationally with a .269 hitting percentage, 18th in kills per set (14.26) and 16th in assists per set (13.35).
Krystal Rivers was named the SEC Freshman of the Week after she paced the Crimson Tide with 32 kills to average 4.57 kills per set with a .581 hitting percentage in wins over Texas A&M and LSU. The redshirt freshman middle blocker ranks fourth in the SEC and 10th nationally with a .443 hitting percentage. Rivers also ranks 86th in the country with 3.62 kills per set and 56th nationally with 4.29 points per set. Sophomore setter Sierra Wilson is currently in the top-10 nationally in assists per set. Wilson, who ranks second in the SEC with 11.99 assists per set, ranks fourth in the country.
Mattie Weldy had a big weekend for the Tide, averaging 3.86 kills per set with a .385 hitting percentage against TAMU and LSU. After setting a three-set match career-high with 12 kills (4.00 kps) against Texas A&M, Weldy set a new career-high when she had 15 kills (3.75 kps) in four sets against LSU, when she hit a career-best .522 (15-3/23). For the season, Weldy is averaging 2.54 kills per set with a .256 hitting percentage. Brittany Thomas is second on the team with 3.45 kills and 2.42 digs per set. Thomas is ninth in the SEC in kills and points (3.76) per set.
Head coach Ed Allen is in his third season with the Crimson Tide and 22nd overall as a head coach. With a 16-5 record this season, Allen has a 43-39 record at the Capstone, bringing his career record to 539-222 (.708).
The Georgia Bulldogs enter Friday's match with a record of 15-6, 5-4 SEC following a five-set victory over No. 15 Kentucky on Wednesday night. This season, Georgia is ninth in the SEC as it averages 13.45 kills per set while ranking fifth in the conference with a .244 hitting percentage. The Dogs also average 2.43 blocks (5th in the SEC), 1.20 aces and 15.13 digs per set, while holding opponents to a .197 hitting percentage.
Brittany Northcutt leads the team with 2.58 kills per set while hitting .192 for the season. Lauren Teknipp and Stacey Smith add 2.45 and 2.36 kills per set, respectively, and Tirah Le'au adds 2.31 kills per set. The setting duo of Kaylee Kehoe and Maggie Baumert average a combined 10.82 assists per set, as Kehoe leads the team with 6.16 assists per set. Elena Perri leads the team with 63 blocks (0.94 bps) and Allison Summers is fifth in the SEC with 4.45 digs per set.
When Alabama and Georgia take the court on Friday, it will mark the 49th meeting all-time between the two schools. The Tide leads the overall series 25-23, but the Bulldogs have won the last two matches, both being played during the 2012 season. In the last match, Georgia posted a straight sets win over the Tide when they met in Tuscaloosa on Oct. 21, 2012. Kayla Fitterer had 15 kills to lead Alabama and Laura Steiner chipped in with 13. Northcutt paced the Bulldogs with 12 kills and Tirah added 11 with a .444 hitting percentage. In the last meeting in Athens, the Dogs defeated Alabama, 3-1, on Sept. 21, 2012.
The Kentucky Wildcats enter the weekend with ranked 15th in the AVCA Coaches Poll. Kentucky suffered a five-set loss to Georgia on Wednesday night to fall to 13-5 overall and 5-2 in SEC play. The Wildcats enter the match ranked eighth in the SEC with 13.54 kills per set, but are sixth in the conference with a .240 hitting percentage. UK is third in the SEC with a .181 opponent's hitting percentage while averaging 2.52 blocks per set, which is third in the conference.
Kentucky senior Whitney Billings leads the team with 3.65 kills per set to rank fifth in the SEC. Billings is also second in the team with 2.92 digs per set. Lauren O'Conner adds 2.25 kills per set and Alexandra Morgan leads the squad with a .378 hitting percentage, which ranks fifth in the conference. Morgan also adds blocks 1.11 per set. Morgan Bergren is sixth in the SEC with 10.47 assists per set and averages 1.35 kills per set with a .288 hitting percentage.
Sunday's match between the Crimson Tide and Wildcats will mark the second meeting of the season and 40th all-time between the two schools. After the Wildcats posted a 3-1 win over the Tide on Sept. 29, Kentucky leads the all-time series 25-14.
In the last meeting, Alabama had four players reach double figures in kills as Brittany Thomas led the way with 14. Krystal Rivers added 13 kills and Andrea McQuaid and Laura Steiner had 10 kills each. Whitney Billings had 14 kills for the Wildcats and Lauren O'Conner added 11.
Next week the Crimson Tide will have just one match, when they host the Mississippi State Bulldogs on Friday, Nov. 1. First serve between Alabama and Mississippi State is scheduled for 7 p.m. CT, from Foster Auditorium.
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