TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Alabama volleyball overcame a 2-1 match deficit against Missouri Sunday afternoon in Foster Auditorium, as the Crimson Tide eventually won in five sets and handed the Tigers its first SEC loss of the season.
Alabama (8-10, 2-2 SEC) won the first set, 25-21, only to lose the next two sets to Missouri (15-2, 3-1 SEC) and fall behind, 2-1. The Crimson Tide forced a fifth set with a 25-17 win in the fourth frame and then won the deciding set 15-11. The loss was the Tigers' first SEC loss of the season and just its second overall. Missouri's last SEC loss before tonight also came against Alabama, as the Crimson Tide previously defeated the Tigers in Columbia in last season's finale on Nov. 24, 2014.
Krystal Rivers led the Tide offense with a season-high 22 kills and 11 digs in the match, earning her first double-double of the season. Kat Hutson also finished with 22 kills, just one shy of her season high, while Leah Lawrence and Emily Stebbins led the attack in the middle, hitting .571 and .357, respectively. Sierra Wilson totaled 63 assists along with a career-high 20 digs, which led the team.
After seven tie scores in the first half of the opening set, Alabama used a 3-1 run to gain a narrow two-point lead at the media timeout, 15-13. The Tigers would eventually fight back to tie it at 15-15 and 18-18, but back-to-back points by Alabama would swing it back in the Tide's favor, 20-18, as the Tigers took a timeout. Alabama would eventually reach set point, 24-21, on a kill by Rivers and a Missouri attack error would end it as the Tide won, 25-21, to take the early 1-0 match lead.
The second set began much like the first one did, with nine tie scores in the opening half, but it was Missouri that held the two-point edge this time at the media timeout, 15-13. After the break, Alabama went on an 8-3 run to pull ahead 21-18 as Missouri took both of its timeouts in the process. A 3-1 run drew the Tigers back within one as the Tide took a timeout and then back-to-back points out of the break swung the late lead back to Missouri, 23-22. Alabama answered with consecutive points to reach set point, 24-23, but a kill by Carly Kan evened it at 24-24 and would force extra points. Missouri reached set point twice before breaking through on another kill by Kan to win, 27-25, and even the match at 1-1.
Tied at 9-9 in set three, a Tide attack error and two blocks by the Tigers made it 12-9 as Alabama took its first timeout. The lead was short-lived as Alabama answered right back with three points to knot it back up at 12-12 and then would retake the lead later at 16-15. With Alabama leading 19-18, Missouri took a timeout but the Tide widened the gap immediately after with a block by Lawrence and Rivers and a kill by Wilson to make it 21-18 as Missouri quickly burned its second timeout. The Tigers would eventually come back to tie the set late, reach set point at 24-23 and win the narrow two-point victory on a block to take a 2-1 match advantage.
Tied at 3-3 and needing a set victory to keep the match going, Alabama went on a 5-1 run to take an 8-4 lead as Missouri took a timeout. The Tide kept widening the gap, scoring three unanswered points to cap a 6-4 run as Missouri took its second timeout down 14-8. The Tigers would draw back within four points but that was the closest they would come as Alabama charged ahead to a seven-point lead at the 20-point mark and an eight-point victory, 25-17, as the most decisive set of the match set up a fifth set with the teams knotted up 2-2.
Alabama got the Foster Auditorium crowd on its feet to start the fifth set, scoring four unanswered points to take the early 4-0 lead as Missouri took a timeout. The Tigers answered right back to tie it at 4-4 and a kill by Emily Stebbins gave Alabama the 8-6 edge as the teams switched sides on the court. Later, tied at 9-9, Alabama went on a 3-1 run to lead 12-10 as Missouri took its second timeout, and after each team scored one more point Alabama would take its first timeout, leading 13-11 looking to strategize on serve receive. A kill by Brittany Thomas gave the Tide match point and a block by Thomas and Stebbins ended it as Alabama completed the 3-2 comeback victory.
Alabama will go back on the road next weekend for a pair of SEC matches, facing Texas A&M (10-6, 3-2 SEC) on Friday, Oct. 16 at 6:30 p.m. CT in College Station before heading to Baton Rouge to face the LSU Tigers (7-9, 3-2 SEC) on Sunday, Oct. 18 at 2 p.m. CT live on the SEC Network.