BAYAMON, Puerto Rico. - Alabama volleyball opened its weekend at the Puerto Rico Clasico with a tough five-set win over Virginia Tech Thursday night.
Alabama (4-1) and Virginia Tech (3-1) traded set victories throughout the match, sending both teams to a fifth set. The Tide led by as much as four points late in the fifth before the Hokies fought back within one late. Back-to-back kills by Kat Hutson and Krystal Rivers ended the set, 15-12, and gave Alabama the close win. Rivers accounted for 22 of the team's 56 kills, hitting .326 along with 14 digs, good for her second double-double of the season. Brittany Thomas and Natalie Murison tallied 13 digs each, with Thomas hitting .333 with nine kills.
Virginia Tech took an early two-run lead in the first set and eventually pulled ahead by five points at the halfway mark, leading 12-7 as Alabama took a timeout. A 7-2 run out of the break allowed the Tide to tie the score at 14-14 and a kill by Hutson gave Alabama its first lead of the frame, 15-14, with the Hokies taking a timeout. The two teams traded back and forth until, tied at 22-22, a block by Thomas and back-to-back kills by Rivers and Thomas gave Alabama the 25-22 win.
The Hokies charged out to an early 8-3 lead in set two, forcing an early Tide timeout. Virginia Tech maintained its five-point lead at the next Alabama timeout, up 13-8, and eventually hit the 20-point mark with a 10-point lead. The Hokies reached set point with a double-digit lead, 24-13, and eventually won, 25-14, to even the match at 1-1.
Tied at 2-2 early in set three, Alabama built a large lead with a 9-3 run as Virginia Tech took a timeout trailing 11-5. The Hokies burned its second timeout soon after, trailing 15-8, but eventually cut the deficit to five points as Alabama took its own timeout leading 18-13. The Tide continued to surge ahead, closing out the set with a service ace by Murison to win 25-16 and take a 2-1 match lead.
The two teams traded points back and forth through the first half of set four, with neither team taking a lead larger than two points. The Hokies took its largest lead at 14-11 but the Tide swung back in front, 17-16, with Virginia Tech taking a timeout. Looking to close out the match, the Tide pulled ahead 21-17 but the Hokies rallied and scored seven-straight points and hit set point, 24-21. A kill by Hutson briefly gave Alabama possession but Virginia Tech knocked in a kill to win the set, 25-22, and force a fifth set.
A service ace by Rivers gave Alabama an early 6-3 lead in set five at Virginia Tech's first timeout and two more points made it an 8-3 lead at the midway point of the set. The Hokies fought back to draw within one point, 9-8, but the Tide pulled back ahead 13-9 before Virginia Tech managed to make it a 13-12 game as Alabama took its last timeout. A kill by Hutson made it match point and Rivers capped the win with a kill for a final score of 15-12.
Next up, the Tide continues play at the Puerto Rico Clasico against Florida State on Friday, Sept. 2 at 4:30 p.m. CT.
For the latest information on Alabama volleyball, follow the team on Twitter (@AlabamaVball), Instagram (AlabamaVball) and Facebook.