TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - Alabama volleyball made its return to Foster Auditorium after three-straight road matches with a four-set win over Mississippi State Wednesday night, falling in the first set 21-25 before winning three straight by scores of 25-20, 25-20 and 25-21.
Alabama (14-5, 3-3 SEC) hit .315 as a team, its highest hitting percentage in SEC play this season, while limiting Mississippi State (11-9, 3-3 SEC) to a .208 clip. Leah Lawrence led the way with a season-high .600 hitting percentage and was equally strong at the service line, scoring four aces for the second-straight match. Brittany Thomas posted her second double-double of the season, finishing with 11 kills and 15 digs along with a season-best .409 hitting percentage. Quincey Gary, making her second start at libero, led the defensive effort in the back row with a career-best 22 digs.
The two teams battled back and forth early in set two until Mississippi State scored three-straight points to break a 10-10 tie, moving ahead 13-10 as Alabama called a timeout. The Bulldogs maintained its lead for the remainder of the set, leading by the same margin late at the Tide's second timeout, 23-20. MSU held on to win by four points, 25-21.
Tied at 10-10 again in set two, it was Alabama that began to pull away this time, scoring five unanswered points to lead 15-10 at the media timeout. Alabama continued to extend its lead, using a 7-4 run to move ahead 22-14 before Mississippi State was forced to take its first team timeout. The Tide reached set point, 24-17, but the Bulldogs battled to keep the set going with three-straight points as Alabama looked to stop the momentum with a timeout leading 24-20. Krystal Rivers ended the set on the next rally with her 18th kill of the match to win, 25-20, and even the match at 1-1.
Mississippi State briefly pulled ahead 4-3 early in the third, but momentum quickly swung back Alabama's way courtesy of a 7-2 run to lead 10-6 at the Bulldogs' first timeout. MSU came out of the break with four-straight points to tie it back up at 10-10 and eventually retake the lead at 12-11. The lead was short-lived as the Tide went back on top 14-13 and continued to pull ahead after three-straight service aces by Lawrence to make it 17-13 as the Bulldogs took a timeout. Lawrence added a fourth-straight ace after the break and a block by Rivers made it 19-13 before Mississippi State finally earned a kill to stop the scoring streak. With Alabama leading 23-17, three-straight points by MSU cut the lead in half and forced the Tide to burn its first team timeout. The Tide scored back-to-back points following the break to win, 25-20, and take a 2-1 lead.
The Bulldogs scored the first two points of the fourth set but Alabama rallied in a big way, scoring seven unanswered points to pull away 7-2 and force a frustrated timeout for Mississippi State. The Tide added three more out of the break to make it a 10-2 game and leading by the same margin later, 16-8, Mississippi State cut the deficit down to four points at 18-14 but a Bulldog service error and a kill by Rivers gave the Tide a six-point lead at the 20-point mark, 20-14, as Mississippi State took its final team timeout. Another kill by Rivers made it 21-14 before MSU responded with four-straight points to draw within three and force the Tide to take its first team timeout. Alabama eventually reached set point, 24-20, and after a Rivers attack error to make it 24-21 she came back with her 31st kill of the match Next up,
Alabama faces Missouri (15-3, 6-0 SEC) on Sunday, Oct. 16 at 1:30 p.m. CT in Foster Auditorium. The match will be the Tide's annual Power of Pink event, an athletics initiative to raise breast cancer research awareness.