ANNAPOLIS, Md. – Alabama volleyball closed its weekend at the Kristen Dickmann Invitational Saturday with a pair of wins over Villanova and Dartmouth, remaining undefeated through two weeks of play.
The two wins improve the Crimson Tide’s record to 6-0, its best start to a season since 2004.
After dropping the first two sets, 22-25 and 24-26, Alabama (6-0) rallied to win the next three over Villanova (4-1) at 25-23, 25-22 and 15-7 to complete the five-set comeback. For the second-straight match sophomore Doris Carter led the team in kills, improving on yesterday’s season-high with 21 against the Wildcats. Her 10 digs marked her first double-double with the Tide, finishing as one of five players with double-digit digs. Sophomore Meghan Neelon also earned a double-double, posting 36 assists and 11 digs, along with a career-best four service aces.
In Saturday’s second match, the Tide needed just three sets to dispatch Dartmouth (0-3), posting scores of 25-17, 25-20 and 25-17 for the sweep. Alabama hit .289 as a team while the Big Green was held to a .097 clip. Carter paced the offense again, tallying eight kills, while Neelon tied her mark at the service line with four more aces, coming in consecutive possessions in the second set.
For their efforts over the weekend, senior Quincey Gary was named to the All-Tournament team and Carter was named the Tournament MVP.
ALABAMA 3, VILLANOVA 2
Villanova scored the first point of the set on a service ace but the early momentum quickly swung in Alabama’s favor with the Tide pulling ahead 6-3. The Wildcats would fight back to retake the lead at 12-11 and maintain its advantage with Alabama eventually having to call a timeout down 19-16. The Tide took its final timeout at set point trailing 24-21 and the Wildcats would win it two points later, 25-22.
Tied at 3-3 early in set two, a 7-3 run put Alabama ahead by four at the 10-point mark. The Tide would remain ahead until the Wildcats rallied to tie it at 17-17. Villanova led 20-18 when Alabama called its first timeout and the Tide burned its second soon after trailing 23-20. The Wildcats reached set point at 24-21 but back-to-back kills from Carter kept the Tide alive as Villanova took a timeout up 24-23. A Wildcat attack error tied it at 24-24 before Villanova scored consecutive points to win, 26-24, and take a 2-0 match lead.
Like the first two sets, the third was a back-and-forth affair early with eight tie scores before Alabama managed to pull ahead 10-8 off consecutive kills from junior Hayley McSparin and freshman Mylana Byrd. Soon after, Villanova swung back in front, 12-11, but Alabama would eventually regain the advantage after a block from senior Cidavia Hall and junior Mahalia Swink made it 16-15. Tied at 20-20, Alabama took a timeout and then regained the lead with back-to-back points after the break before Villanova looked to halt the momentum with its own team timeout. The Tide reached set point at 24-21 and, following a Wildcat timeout, won the frame at 25-23 to avoid a sweep.
Alabama got off to a 3-0 start in the fourth set, capped by back-to-back aces from Neelon. Her third ace later in the set put Alabama ahead by five as Villanova took a timeout down 12-7. The Tide kept rolling, eventually hitting the 20-point mark ahead by seven but Villanova started to close the gap, drawing within two before Alabama had to take a timeout with its lead cut to two at 22-20. The Tide would hang on to win, 25-22, and force a deciding fifth set.
Alabama had the early momentum in the fifth, going ahead 4-0 before Villanova called a timeout. The Tide continued to extend its lead, up 8-1 at the mid-set switch. The Wildcats would only score six more points in the remainder of the match as Alabama closed out the set to win, 15-7, and complete the comeback.
ALABAMA 3, NAVY 0
Dartmouth took the first lead of the match but Alabama wasn’t down for a long, as a block from Byrd and McSparin tied it up at 6-6 and a kill from Carter put the Tide in front. Alabama stretched its lead to four points, leading by that margin at the halfway mark, 12-8, and at Dartmouth’s first timeout, 17-13. A 5-1 run for the Tide after the break further extended the lead to eight points and the Big Green called its final timeout at 22-14. Alabama would hold on to win the opening set, 25-17.
The momentum carried into the second set, with the Tide opening up an 8-2 lead. The Big Green started to chip away at the deficit, making it a three-point game until the Tide moved ahead by four on a service ace from Neelon and Dartmouth called a timeout at 14-10. Neelon kept the pressure from the service line after the break, scoring three more service aces to make it 17-10 as the Big Green called its second timeout. Alabama held a six-point lead at the 20-point mark and eventually won by five, 25-20.
Trailing 4-3 early in the third, Alabama scored four in a row capped by consecutive aces from Swink to take a 7-4 lead. The Big Green fought back to tie it at 12-12 but could not take the lead, as the Tide responded with three straight to move up 15-12 as Dartmouth called a timeout. Alabama continued the run after the break with three more unanswered points, stretching the lead to 18-12 at the Big Green’s second timeout. That provided plenty of cushion down the stretch as Alabama won, 25-17, to complete the sweep.