Dec. 4, 2013
PALO ALTO, Calif. - Alabama (24-9, 11-7 SEC) makes its fourth trip to the NCAA tournament, and first since 2007, when it takes on the Oklahoma Sooners (23-7, 11-5 Big 12) on Thursday, Dec. 5, with first serve scheduled for 6:30 p.m. CT, from Maples Pavilion at Stanford University. The other half of the opening round matches will feature the host and No. 7 overall seed, the Stanford Cardinal (24-5, 17-3 Pac-12) and the Hampton Pirates (19-10, 10-2 MEAC), who will play at 9 p.m. CT on Thursday. The two winners will play in the second round, with the match scheduled for Friday, Dec. 6, at 9 p.m. CT.
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ALABAMA QUICK HITS
Alabama finished the final week of the season with a 1-1 record on the road, defeating Mississippi State, 3-0, on Wednesday, before falling at LSU in straight sets on Saturday to close the regular season. The Crimson Tide averaged 15.67 kills per set with a .214 hitting percentage in the two matches. Bama also averaged 19.17 digs, 1.83 blocks and 0.83 blocks per set.
With the win at MSU, Alabama matched a school record for the most wins in a season as an NCAA team, tying the 1995 squad with 24 victories. The Tide finished the regular season in fourth place in the SEC standings, posting the best finish for an Alabama volleyball team since finishing third in 2006.
Alabama posted the best record of all teams that were previously in the SEC West Division, and it's the Tide's best finish against the west division teams since the 2004 season. Alabama's 11 SEC victories are the most since the 2007 team posted a 12-8 conference record.
Alabama ranks fourth in the SEC with 14.07 kills per set and 13.22 assists per set. The Tide is also third in the SEC with a .257 hitting percentage and sixth in the conference with 1.28 aces per set. Bama ranks 25th nationally in kills and assists per set and 34th in the country in hitting percentage. Six of Alabama's nine losses have come against nationally ranked opponents and teams ranked in the top-10 in RPI.
BAMA IN THE NCAA TOURNAMENT
Alabama made consecutive NCAA tournament appearances from 2005-07, suffering first round exits all three years. In Alabama's first trip to the NCAA tournament in 2005, the Tide suffered a 3-1 loss to No. 20 Ohio in the first round. The next season, Alabama also had a first round exit, losing to Stephen F. Austin in Austin, Texas. In the most recent trip to the NCAA tournament, the Tide lost in four sets at No. 20 Clemson on Nov. 30, 2007.
SCOUTING THE OKLAHOMA SOONERS
The Oklahoma Sooners enter the 2013 NCAA tournament with a 23-7 overall record after posting an 11-5 mark in Big 12 Conference play to finish third in the conference standings. The Sooners are 9-9 all-time in the NCAA tournament as they make their 10th appearance in program history. Oklahoma made its first trip to the NCAAs in 1987 and has made seven appearances since 2006 under head coach Santiago Restrepo. The Sooners have been as far as the Sweet 16 three times (1988, 2006, 2010). As a team, Oklahoma averages 13.28 kills per set with a .247 hitting percentage. The Sooners also average 16.47 digs, 2.53 blocks and 1.12 aces per set.
Oklahoma is led by senior middle blocker Sallie McLaurin who averages 3.76 kills per set and ranks second in the Big 12 Conference with a .423 hitting percentage. On the pins, sophomore Kierra Holst and senior Keila Rodriguez contribute 2.97 and 2.43 kills per set, respectively. Sophomore Julia Doyle has started all 30 matches at setter and averages 9.45 assists per set. Defensively, sophomore libero Taylor Migliazzo leads the Sooners with 3.95 digs per set, followed by Rodriguez at 3.25 dps. McLaurin leads the way at the net with a 1.34 blocks per set average.
Alabama is 3-1 all-time against the Sooners. The last time Alabama and Oklahoma faced each other, the Sooners posted a 3-0 victory over the Tide on Aug. 25, 2007.
Alabama Player Notes
Krystal Rivers led the Tide with 21 kills to average 3.50 kills per set with a .404 hitting percentage in the two matches ... Rivers had five total blocks (0.83 bps) to finish the week with 24 points and average 4.00 points per set ... she notched her 21st double-digit kills match of the season with 12 against Mississippi State on Wednesday ... Rivers had a solo block against the Bulldogs for her 35th of the season, moving her into fifth place on the UA single season solo blocks list ... she needs one more solo block to equal Holly Richards 1996 total for fourth all-time ... Rivers leads the team with 421 kills (3.57 kps), with a .406 hitting percentage this season, and 103 blocks (0.87 bps) ... Rivers is third in the SEC in hitting percentage, fifth in kills and 16th in blocks.
Brittany Thomas had 19 kills and 24 digs to average 3.17 kills and 4.00 digs per set in the two matches ... Thomas notched her team-leading eighth double-double of the season with 11 kills and 13 digs at Mississippi State ... she also added three assisted blocks and two aces against the Bulldogs ... Thomas had eight kills and 11 digs against LSU ... she is second on the team with 393 kills (3.33 kps) and 287 digs (2.43 dps) for the season ... Thomas also leads the team with 34 aces and ranks ninth in the SEC with a 0.29 aces per set average.
Katherine White posted a team-high .417 hitting percentage in the two matches, while posting 14 kills to average 2.33 kills per set in the two matches ... White had six kills with a .400 (6-2/10) hitting percentage against the Bulldogs and a .429 (8-2/14) percentage against the Tigers ... White is averaging 1.46 kills with a .281 hitting percentage this season ... White is second on the team with 96 total blocks to average 0.81 blocks per set this season.
Sierra Wilson dished out 79 assists in the two matches to average 13.17 assists per set ... Wilson had 42 assists, six digs, three kills and two blocks against Mississippi State ... against LSU she had 37 assists, nine digs and two kills ... she has 1,386 assists to average 12.05 assist per set this season, ranking second in the SEC and fifth in the country ... Wilson now has 2,691 career assists to average 11.45 assists per set for her career and rank fifth in career assists at Alabama.
Laura Steiner had 15 kills to average 3.00 kills per set in the two matches ... Steiner posted her first double-digit kills match since Nov. 1 when she had 13 kills against Mississippi State on Wednesday ... Steiner is third on the team with 244 kills this season to average 3.09 kills per set.
Rivers Selected to All-SEC team
Alabama redshirt freshman middle blocker Krystal Rivers was selected to the 2013 All-Southeastern Conference team and was also a member of the 2013 SEC All-Freshman team. Rivers finished the regular season with a team-high 426 kills and ranks fifth in the SEC with 3.57 kills per set. Rivers was also one of the most efficient hitters in the conference, as she is third in the SEC and 20th in the country with a .406 percentage.
Wilson Eclipses 2,500-Assist Plateau
With her first assist against Florida, Sierra Wilson dished out her 2,500th career assist. With a career-high 1,398 assists this season, Wilson has 2,691 assists in her career to rank fifth in school history. Her 1,398 assists in 33 matches this season are the fifth most in a single season at Alabama. Wilson will need four more to move into fourth, 29 more to take over third and 55 more to pass Bridgette Slack for the second most in a single season. Kenna Milner holds the single season record with 1,484 assists in 2002. Alabama has a 42-22 (.656) record with Wilson as the starting setter.
Rivers Breaks Into Top-10 in Blocks
Redshirt freshman middle blocker Krystal Rivers leads the Crimson Tide with 103 blocks, with a team-high 35 solo blocks and 68 assisted. Rivers' 35 solo blocks are the fifth most in a season at Alabama, after she passed Shelly Adamcik and tied Mavis Reed with four solos against Ole Miss. Rivers needs one more solo block to match Holly Richards for fourth and four more to equal Adamcik's 1999 total of 39. Against Seton Hall, Rivers had a career-high five solo blocks, which rank as the fourth most in a match in school history, equaling Adamcik, Miller and Mavis Reed totals.
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