The Alabama volleyball team is off to a 6-0 start for the first time since 2004. That team finished 21-9 and won the SEC West, but the 2018 Crimson Tide isn’t focused on that piece of trivia.
“I think we just look at it like we’ve just won six games,” middle blocker Hayley McSparin said. “We’re going to continue to push to keep winning more. Those were games in the past, and we always look forward to the next match. It’s cool that this is the best start we’ve had, but it’s just games that we’ve won.”
Arguably one of the biggest reasons why the team is so hot is because of the starting juniors at the front of the net. McSparin stands in the middle with Ginger Perinar and Mahalia Swink on the outside.
The three juniors rank in the top four on the team in points and kills, while all in the top-five in blocks.
“It’s a class that we’re relying pretty heavily on,” coach Ed Allen said. “You’ve got upper classmen on the floor with those three kids. The highs and lows should be minimal. You look for steady play when you have upper classmen.”
McSparin has been a force in the middle of the net since her freshman year. Defensively, she started out as an inexperienced blocker, finishing with just 56 total blocks. Now, she leads the team in blocks with 33 and finished second on the team last year with 105, 18 behind leader Leah Lawrence.
“As a freshman I wasn’t strong at blocking. My sophomore year, I did improve, but this year I have shown tremendous growth,” McSparin said. “I don’t think I have started this well ever.”
Offensively, she has taken a step up every year. In her freshman year, her kills per set was at 1.95. Now she’s sitting at 2.55.
Perinar transferred in last year from Southern Illinois, where she was named to the Mountain Valley Conference All-Freshman team. She started off her first season with the Crimson Tide dealing with a back problem that limited her production.
So far this season, she is healthy and is second on the team with 3.18 kills a set and 70 total kills.
Swank leads the team in serving aces and has 55 kills.
“She’s (becoming) more smart on her shots,” McSparin said.
Alabama plays its first home matches of the year in the Hampton Inn Bama Bash. The Crimson Tide faces Marshall (3-4) in the first game at 10 a.m.
The headliner is Alabama vs. Georgia Tech (8-0) at 7 p.m. Friday.
Georgia Tech has a group of very talented freshmen. Outside hitter Mariana Brambilla, who was named ACC Co-Freshman of the Week after her performance in the Hyatt Regency Invitational, leads the Yellow Jackets in kills and aces.
Alabama finishes the weekend tournament against Northern Illinois (1-6) on Saturday at 1 p.m.