TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - Alabama volleyball only needed three sets to win its 2016 home opener against Samford Tuesday night at Foster Auditorium, sweeping the Bulldogs by scores 25-20, 25-14 and 25-22.
Alabama (3-1) was led offensively by Krystal Rivers with 14 kills, her fourth-straight match in double figures. Rivers had two of the team's five service aces, tying a season high for the team from the service line. Samford (2-2) was limited to a .050 team hitting percentage, with Kate Neisler and T.J. Russell as its only players with a positive hitting percentage.
Alabama had the slight edge early in set one before Samford stormed back to tie it at 10-10 and take a 12-10 lead as the Crimson Tide took its first timeout. Alabama quickly came back to retake the lead at 13-12 but momentum swung back the Bulldogs' way at the 20-point mark as a Tide service error gave the visitors a 20-19 lead. Alabama responded with four-straight points, leading 23-20 as Samford took a timeout. A block by Hayley McSparin and Rivers gave the Tide set point and Rivers ended it with a kill for a final score of 25-20.
Tied at 3-3 in set one, Alabama rattled off four unanswered points and held the same four-point lead at 10-6 as Samford took a timeout. With the score 13-9, the Tide extended its lead with a string of five-straight points, eventually moving ahead 19-10 at Samford's second timeout. Each team would score four more points before a kill by McSparin gave the Tide set point and a kill by Kat Hutson ended the frame as Alabama won 25-14 to take a 2-0 match lead at intermission.
After a back-and-forth start to the third, Alabama broke an 8-8 tie with a 6-2 run to lead 14-10 at Samford's first timeout. The Bulldogs burned its final timeout soon after with the Tide up 17-12. Each team would score six more points, making it 23-18 before a kill by Hutson made it match point. The Bulldogs would not go down quietly though, scoring four-straight points to force the Tide into a late timeout at match point, 24-22. Rivers ended it out of the break with a kill to win the set, 25-22, and complete the sweep.
Next up, Alabama travels to Puerto Rico for the Puerto Rico Clasico tournament. Action begins on Thursday, Sept. 1 against Virginia Tech at 4:30 p.m. CT. Matches continue on Friday, Sept. 2 against Florida State (4:30 p.m. CT) and Saturday, Sept. 3 against Temple (2 p.m. CT).