TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- After falling in the opening set, Alabama rebounded to win the next three sets and defeat Mississippi State, 3-1, Wednesday night in Foster Auditorium.
Alabama (6-8, 1-0 SEC) fell in the opening set to Mississippi State (10-4, 0-1 SEC), 24-21, but the defense picked it up in the remaining three sets, limiting the Bulldogs to a .050 clip over the remaining three sets. The Tide front line stuffed 10 blocks, led by Krystal Rivers who tied a career high with eight blocks along with 11 kills and a .409 attack percentage. Kat Hutson led the Tide in kills for the second straight match, knocking in 16, while Brittany Thomas earned her eighth double-double of the year with 10 kills and 13 digs.
Alabama found itself in a big hole to start the match, trailing 8-3 after taking an early timeout. The Tide fought back out of the break, eventually tying the match 12-12 at the halfway point on a Hutson service ace and taking a 13-12 lead on a kill by Thomas. The two teams would swap the lead back and forth until Mississippi State took a 19-18 lead and extended the gap with a 5-2 run to reach set point, 24-20. A kill by Hutson gave the Tide back possession but the Bulldogs answered back with a kill on the next rally to win, 25-21.
Alabama scored the first point of the second set and would not give up its lead for the remainder of the frame. Alabama led 12-7 as Mississippi State took a timeout at the halfway point and the Bulldogs quickly burned its second timeout soon after trailing 17-9. Alabama closed out the set, never leading by less than five points, to eventually win, 25-17, and even the match at 1-1 at intermission.
Like the second set, Alabama would not give up the lead in the entire third set and Mississippi State would only come back to tie the score once at 1-1. The Tide scored three points in a row after that tie score to make it 4-1 and held the three-point lead at the media timeout, 15-12. Later with a four-point lead, 19-15, a kill by Thomas made it 20-15 as Mississippi State took its first timeout. The Tide would rattle off four unanswered points out of the break to reach set point, 24-15, and a kill by the Bulldogs would briefly give the visitors back possession but a kill by Rivers ended it as Alabama won, 25-16, to take a 2-1 match advantage.
With Alabama leading 7-5 in the fourth set, Mississippi State would score four straight points to retake the lead, 9-7, its first lead since the opening set. The lead was short-lived however, as Alabama answered right back with three-straight points to pull back ahead, 10-9. Mississippi State would briefly pull back on top, 11-10, but when a kill by Hutson gave Alabama a 13-12 lead, that would hold for the rest of the match. Alabama led 15-12 at the media timeout but was forced to take its own timeout when the Bulldogs drew back within one late, 19-18. A 4-1 run out of the break gave the Tide a bit of breathing room as Mississippi State took a timeout trailing 23-19 and each team would score one more point before a Bulldog attack error sealed the 25-20 set victory for Alabama and the 3-1 match victory to open its SEC season.
After a weekend free from competition, Alabama resumes play at home on Tuesday, Sept. 28 against Alabama State (4-9). The match is set to start at 7 p.m. CT.