Oct. 2, 2015
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Down 2-0 in the match, Alabama rebounded with a convincing third-set victory over Tennessee to force a fourth set, but the Vols hung on to win a tightly-contested fourth set to defeat the Crimson Tide, 3-1, Friday night in Thompson-Boling arena.
Alabama (7-9, 1-1 SEC) struggled offensively against Tennessee (16-2, 2-1 SEC) over the first two sets, committing 16 errors while being limited to a .103 hitting percentage. The Crimson Tide rebounded to hit .409 in the third and win convincingly, 25-16, but fell in a very close fourth set, 28-26 as the Vols held on to win the match, 3-1. Kat Hutson led the team with 14 kills, as Tabitha Brown and Krystal Rivers were also in double figures with 13 and 10, respectively. Natalie Murison led the team in digs with 16 while Sierra Wilson tied a career high with 15 digs along with 44 assists.
Tennessee scored four unanswered points to open the first set before back-to-back blocks by Alabama cut the lead in half and the Tide continued to fight back, eventually tying the set at 8-8. Alabama would tie the set two more times but would not take the lead as Tennessee held onto a slim 15-14 lead at the media timeout. The Tide would take its first lead of the match soon after, scoring three straight points out of the break to lead 17-15 as Tennessee took its first timeout. The Vols weren’t down for long, as they retook the lead, 20-19, forcing the Tide to take its first timeout. Tennessee reached set point, 24-21, as Alabama took its second timeout and the Tide scored two points to extend the set but the Vols would get a kill to win the opening frame, 25-23.
Down 4-3 early in set two, the Tide would score four straight points, including a pair of kills by Rivers, to make it a 7-4 game. The Vols answered with a run of their own, scoring four to retake the lead, 8-7. Tennessee continued to extend its lead as Alabama was eventually forced to take a timeout trailing 11-8. UT continued its run out of the break, tacking on three more unanswered points as Alabama quickly burned its final timeout down 14-8. Tennessee kept steaming ahead in the set, eventually winning 25-16 to take a 2-0 match lead into intermission.
Tied at 5-5 early in set three, Alabama would score four unanswered points to take a 9-4 lead, its largest of the match. With Alabama leading by the same margin later, 11-6, Tennessee would take its first timeout but the Tide would continue to extend its lead, eventually pulling ahead 19-13 as the Vols took its second timeout of the set. Alabama would continue to charge ahead in the frame, as a block by Leah Lawrence capped the convincing 25-16 set victory.
Like the previous set, the fourth was evenly matched in the early stages with seven tie scores before a kill by Lawrence tied the set an eighth time at 10-10. Alabama scored three straight points to pull ahead 13-10 as Tennessee took its first timeout but the Vols responded with three points to tie it back up at 13-13. Later, tied at 16-16, Alabama would use a 4-1 run to take a three-point lead at the 20-point mark as Tennessee took a timeout. The Vols would fight back and draw within one as the Tide took its own timeout leading 22-21. Tied at 23-23, a block by Tennessee gave the Vols set point as Alabama took a timeout but back-to-back points by the Tide switched it back in Alabama’s favor, 25-24. Tennessee would reach match point two more times before eventually breaking through to win the set, 28-26, and the match, 3-1.
Next up, Alabama closes its weekend against the Kentucky Wildcats (10-5, 3-0 SEC) in Lexington, Ky., on Sunday, Oct. 4 at 12:30 p.m. CT.