COLUMBUS, OHIO --
The Alabama volleyball team’s magical season came to an end Friday night as the No. 20 Ohio Bobcats eliminated the Crimson Tide 3-1 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. The Tide, making their first NCAA Tournament appearance, fell to 23-11 on the season. Ohio improved to 32-2.
“I’m very proud of the University of Alabama,” Alabama head coach Judy Green said. “We’ve taken an enormous step and gained valuable experience from being here for the first time.”
Sophomores Bridget Fuentez and Brigitte Slack and freshman Sarah Snider had double-doubles for Alabama. Fuentez and Snider had 16 and 11 kills respectively to go with 11 and 16 digs each. Slack dished out 45 assists and had a season high 17 digs for the Tide.
Playing in their final career match, Kelley Potter had 12 kills and Jessica Yearout had 15 digs.
The Bobcats were led by Melissa Griffin’s 16 kills. Julia Winkfield and Amanda Anderson added 13 and 12 kills respectively.
The Tide held Ohio well below their season average in kills per game, allowing 59 in the four games. Ohio leads the nation in kills as a team. Alabama had 57 kills. The Tide held an 80-73 edge in digs.
For the match, Ohio out-hit the Tide .188 to .113 committing just 25 errors to 37 for Alabama.
The first game was a back and forth affair that featured 15 ties and five lead changes before Alabama finally came out on top 30-28. Both teams traded points until the 10-9 mark when the Tide took over, taking a five point lead at the 17-12 mark. OU came storming back to retake a two point lead, as late as the 27-25 mark, but the Tide, prevailed, to win their first ever game in the NCAA Tournament.
“I was pleased with how we came out in game one,” Green said. “But, Ohio’s experience showed on the court. They stayed composed in games two, three and four, even after losing the first. We had the task of defending Ohio’s offense, but their experience definitely played a factor in their victory.”
Ohio controlled the second game, taking the lead at the 2-1 mark and never relinquishing it to win the game 30-18. The Bobcats held UA to a .023 hitting percentage while slugging .213 in the stanza. The Tide only managed 10 kills in the game and had nine hitting errors.
The Bobcats continued their momentum in game three, leading wire to wire to win 30-22. The Tide offense continued to struggle, hitting just .091 and committing 11 errors, while OU hit .244 with 14 kills and only four errors.
Alabama rebounded at the start, taking a 6-3 lead to start game four, but the Ohio again proved to be too much, taking the game 30-23 to eliminate Alabama from the tournament.