COLUMBIA, S.C. -- Alabama volleyball won its third straight match Sunday afternoon, defeating South Carolina in four sets on the road.
Alabama (16-14, 10-6 SEC) won the first two sets before South Carolina (12-17, 5-11 SEC) rallied for a win in the third to extend the match to four sets. The Tide ended it with a 25-20 win in the fourth set, claiming its fifth-straight win over the Gamecocks and stretching the all-time series to 28-18 in Alabama's favor.
Krystal Rivers hit a match-high 24 kills, adding 11 digs for her fifth double-double of the season, while Kat Hutson was also in double figures with 15 kills and a .519 hitting percentage. Natalie Murison led the defense with 15 digs while Sierra Wilson paced the offense with 48 assists.
Alabama would not allow South Carolina to score back-to-back points in the early stages of set one, building a 10-6 lead following back-to-back kills as the Gamecocks took a timeout. Consecutive service aces by Hutson after the break extended the Tide's lead to six points before a service error gave the Gamecocks back possession trailing 12-7. Later with Alabama leading by the same margin, 17-12, a pair of kills and service aces by South Carolina cut the lead to one point as Alabama took a timeout up 17-16. A kill in the next rally would tie it at 17-17 and, after four more tie scores, a Rivers service ace put Alabama in front 22-21 to force a South Carolina timeout. The Tide reached set point first, 24-23, and would do so two more times before eventually breaking through with a block on the outside by Hutson to win, 27-25.
South Carolina's first lead of the match came early in the second set, moving ahead 4-3, before a 4-1 run further extended the Gamecocks' lead to 8-4 as Alabama took its first timeout. Two more points after the break stretched South Carolina's run to six-straight points before a service error gave Alabama back possession trailing 10-5. The Tide would chip away at the deficit and eventually tie it at 16-16 after Wilson contended for a one-on-one point against the Gamecock middle blocker at the net. Following a South Carolina timeout, Alabama scored three-straight points to take a 19-16 lead and the Tide would remain in front for the remainder of the set, eventually winning 25-20 to take a 2-0 match lead at intermission.
Tied at 2-2 in set three, South Carolina's Jacqy Angermiller scored a kill and the Gamecocks would remain in front for the entire first half, leading 15-10 at the media timeout. Alabama took its first timeout just three points later trailing 17-11 and its second trailing 20-14. After each team scored three more points, a kill gave South Carolina set point, 24-17, and a block ended it as the Gamecocks won, 25-17, to force a fourth set.
Alabama took an early 6-3 lead in set four before South Carolina responded with three-straight to tie it at 6-6. The Tide eventually stretched its lead back to three points, 10-7, and then moved up by four as South Carolina took its first timeout trailing 13-9. A kill by Brittany Thomas and back-to-back attack errors by the Gamecocks stretched the Tide's lead to 16-9, forcing South Carolina to quickly burn its second and final timeout of the set. Later, consecutive kills from South Carolina cut Alabama's lead to 19-15 as the Tide took a timeout to regroup and responded with a 5-3 run to reach match point, 24-18. South Carolina scored two points to extend the set but a cross-court kill by Hutson ended it as the Tide won the set, 25-20, and the match, 3-1.
Alabama wraps up the regular season with a pair of home matches next week. First, the Tide takes on the Ole Miss Rebels (21-9, 7-8 SEC) on Wednesday, Nov. 25 at 7:30 p.m. CT live on the SEC Network before facing the LSU Tigers (9-17, 5-10 SEC) on Friday, Nov. 27 at 7 p.m. CT.