TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - Alabama volleyball gave the fans an exciting final home match of the 2017 season, going five sets in a thrilling win over Ole Miss Wednesday in Foster Auditorium. In the win, senior Krystal Rivers moved into first place on Alabama's career kills list.
Alabama (19-11, 8-9 SEC) was led offensively by Rivers with 35 kills, which pushes her career total to 2,118. This passes previous record-holder Erin Heffner's total of 2,090 set in 2004. Rivers is now Alabama's all-time leader in kills and points.
The Tide opened the match with a 25-22 win in the first before Ole Miss (16-14, 5-12 SEC) rallied with a 26-24 win in the second to even the match at 1-1 at intermission. Alabama came out of the locker room with a 25-17 win in the third to take a 2-1 lead before Ole Miss earned a lopsided 25-13 victory in the fourth to force a deciding fifth set. The Tide stole the early momentum in the fifth and never looked back, eventually winning 15-6.
All-Freshman honoree Hayley McSparin also finished in double figures with 11 kills and a team-leading .562 hitting percentage with just two errors on 16 swings. Shannon Mikesky and Alexa Tomlak again split setting duties, finishing with 36 and 21 assists, respectively, while three players posted double-digit dig totals led by Natalie Murison with 19.
Alabama led 3-1 early in the first set before Ole Miss responded with five-straight to take a 6-3 lead. The Tide battle back to tie it at 6-6 and the teams traded back and forth with the Rebels holding a slim 15-14 lead at the media timeout. An Ole Miss service error tied it at 15-15 following the break and Alabama scored three more unanswered points to pull back ahead 18-15 as the Rebels took its first team timeout. Ole Miss took its second timeout down by the same margin at 23-20 and the Tide held on to win, 25-22.
After four tie scores early in set two, Ole Miss started to pull away with a 6-2 run to lead 11-7 as Alabama took a timeout. The Rebels tacked on another point after the break to make it 12-7 but the Tide rallied with a 6-1 run to tie it at 13-13 and force Ole Miss to take a timeout. Alabama edged back ahead after the break and led 21-19 at the visitors' second timeout but the Rebels rallied to tie it at 22-22 and again at the Tide's first set point to make it 24-24. A service ace for Ole Miss gave them set point, 25-24, as Alabama called a timeout and the Rebels held on to win the set on the next point, 26-24, and tie the match at 1-1.
Alabama came out of the locker room with a fast start to the third set, pulling ahead 8-2 including a 5-0 run heading into an early Ole Miss timeout. The Tide kept the Rebels at arm's length for the remainder of the frame, only allowing the visitors to draw as close as five points down the stretch as Alabama eventually won 25-17 to take a 2-1 lead.
Needing to win the set to keep the match alive, Ole Miss took an early 6- 2 lead in the fourth to force an Alabama timeout. The Rebels kept the pressure on, scoring four unanswered points to extend the lead to 10-2 as the Tide quickly burned its second timeout. Ole Miss made it a double-digit lead at 17-7 but back-to-back points by Alabama later in the set forced the Rebels to try and halt the momentum with a timeout, leading 18-10. Ole Miss held on to win 25-13 however and force a deciding fifth set.
Alabama scored five unanswered points to start the fifth and held a sizeable 8-2 lead at the mid-set switch. The Tide maintained its six-point lead in the second half, up 12-6, and closed out the set with three-straight points including the match-winning kill by senior Brittany Thomas on senior night to take the set, 15-6, and the match, 3-2.
Next up, Alabama concludes the regular season with a road match at LSU (9-18, 4-12 SEC) Saturday, Nov. 26 at 1 p.m. CT.