BAYAMON, Puerto Rico -- Alabama volleyball's upset bid over No. 16 Florida State fell just short in Friday's match at the Puerto Rico Clasico, falling in five sets by scores of 25-22, 21-25, 25-20, 19-25 and 12-15.
Alabama (4-2) held a 2-1 match lead over Florida State (3-0) before the Seminoles battled back to win the fourth and narrowly escaped a late push by the Tide in the fifth. Krystal Rivers was Alabama's scoring leader at the pin and at the service line, finishing with 29 kills and four service aces, both just one shy of tying career highs. Kat Hutson finished in double figures for the third time this season with 11 kills and Hayley McSparin was close behind with nine, including a .421 hitting percentage. Shannon Mikesky finished with 57 assists and Natalie Murison led the passing effort with 15 digs.
Alabama got off to a hot start in set one, pulling ahead 6-1 as Florida State was forced to burn an early timeout. The Tide steadily increased its lead, eventually pulling ahead 14-7 on a block by Brittany Thomas and McSparin as the Seminoles took its final timeout. Florida State made a late push, eventually drawing within two points down 23-21 with Alabama burning both of its timeouts during the run. The Tide reached set point, 24-21, and the Seminoles managed to get one point back but a service error gave Alabama the 25-22 win.
The Tide took an early 8-7 lead in set two but the Seminoles responded with five-straight points to take a 12-8 lead at the half as Alabama took a timeout. A 7-3 run allowed the Tide to tie it at 15-15 and the teams continued to battle back and forth until Florida State reached set point, 24-21, and Alabama took its final timeout. A solo block ended the set with Florida State winning, 25-21, to even the match at 1-1.
Tied at 4-4 in set three, three-straight points by Alabama prompted an early Florida State timeout with the score 7-4 and the Seminoles had to take its second timeout just past the halfway point with the Tide on top 14-7. Out of the break, Florida State scored four unanswered points to draw within three, down 14-11, and Alabama looked to halt the momentum with a timeout. The Tide stretched its lead back out to as many as five points before the Seminoles drew back within two, down 20-18 as Alabama took a timeout. After each team scored two more points, Alabama reached set point on back-to-back attack errors by Florida State and another Seminole error would end it and give the Tide the 25-20 set victory.
Florida State scored the first point of the fourth set and would not fall behind for the remainder of the frame. Alabama took its first timeout down 9-5 and, trailing later by the same margin 16-12, the Seminoles added a pair of points to extend the lead to 18-12 as Alabama took its second timeout. The Tide would draw back within four but that was the closest they would get as the Seminoles held on to win the frame, 25-19, and force a deciding fifth set.
The two teams traded back and forth early in set five until Florida State strung three-straight points together to take a 9-5 lead as Alabama took a timeout. The Seminoles eventually reached set point, 14-11, but a kill by Rivers made it 14-12 and gave the Tide possession as Florida State took its own timeout. The Seminoles ended it on the next rally however, scoring a kill to win the set, 15-12, and the match, 2-1.
The Crimson Tide concludes its weekend on Saturday, Sept. 3 against Temple (2-1) at 2 p.m. CT.