TUSCALOOSA, Ala.- The University of Alabama volleyball team fell in an emotional five game match today to LSU at the CAVE. The Crimson Tide came from behind to win the second and third games and eventually fell in five games, 23-30, 30-21, 32-30, 28-30, 10-15.
“I’m really proud of our team for how they left it on the court today,” said Alabama head coach Judy Green. “We felt like after Thursday’s match we left some swings out there. We made the decision as a team that we weren’t going to do that today, and we didn’t. LSU is a very, very good volleyball team and today’s match was probably one of the most interesting matches that has been played in the SEC so far.”
The Tide battled the Tigers for almost three hours in a fight for the rights to the SEC Western Division but LSU edged out Alabama in the end. Alabama seniors Bridget Fuentez and Brigitte Slack led the Tide attack as each player produced a double-double. Fuentez tallied a team high 19 kills along with 13 digs and Slack dished out 55 assists with 11 digs. Junior Amy Pauly led the team in digs with 20 while freshman Mary Catherine Aune set a career high in digs with 18.
Alabama had trouble finding its rhythm in game one as the Tigers outscored the Tide in every category. However, the Tide bounced back in games two and three and held LSU to under a .100 hitting percentage in the two games combined.
The Tide controlled game two from the first serve when Alabama’s Brooks Webster earned her third kill of the match. Late in the game, Alabama’s block shut down the Tigers and caused four consecutive hitting errors for LSU to give the Tide an eight point advantage at 24-16. Aune added a service ace to give Alabama its biggest lead of the match of nine points. The Tide only allowed five more points for the Tigers before Fuentez closed out the game on a kill from Slack.
Alabama made a remarkable comeback in game three to take a 2-1 lead over the Tigers. Down 24-29 with LSU at game point, the Tide rallied off five consecutive points to tie the game at 29-29. Webster and junior Lindsey Buteyn combined for three kills in the run that gave Alabama the momentum to close out the game. The Tide’s defense came up big at the end and forced LSU to make two hitting errors that closed out game three.
Game four was a back-and-forth battle for the two teams as they exchanged points until LSU tied the match at two games apiece on a kill from the middle. Like game three, Alabama was behind LSU at game point. The Tide did not back down and Fuentez smashed a kill from the outside to keep Alabama alive. Fuentez added another kill on the next point to move the Tide within one point at 28-29. However, LSU’s Lauren DeGirolamo ended the game with a kill from the middle to send the match in to a fifth and deciding game.
“I’m proud of how aggressive we were at the end of the match,” said Green. “In a fifteen-point game against really good teams you can’t spot a big lead early in the game because the games going to be over too fast. I think it was about a four-point run by LSU in the beginning of the game and that was the difference in the match.”
Down by four points at the change-over in game five, Alabama found itself in a hole they could not climb out of. The Tide continued to earn points but LSU’s early lead gave them the advantage and they eventually closed out the match on a kill from the middle.
Today marked the final SEC match for the four seniors in the class of 2007. Coach Green and her staff along with 600 fans honored the seniors as they played their last match in the CAVE.
“Today is a special day for all of us as we celebrate with our seniors,” Green said. “They’ve done absolutely amazing things for our volleyball program. They’ve laid the foundation for their younger teammates and we are very proud of them.”
Alabama volleyball closes out the conference season next weekend on the road at Florida and South Carolina.
For more information on Alabama volleyball, visit www.rolltide.com.