Alabama volleyball is off to its best start in program history at 9-0 following a three-set sweep over Northern Illinois Saturday afternoon at Foster Auditorium.
With the win, the Crimson Tide is 9-0 to start a season for the first time since becoming an NCAA program in 1989. Alabama needed just three sets to earn its ninth victory of the season over Northern Illinois (2-8), posting set scores of 25-18, 25-22 and 25-12.
The Tide hit .296 as a team, led by career-high hitting percentages from juniors Hayley McSparin (.667) and Mahalia Swink (.625). Swink was second on the team with 11 kills, only trailing junior Ginger Perinar in that category with 12. For their efforts over the weekend, Swink and senior Cidavia Hall were named to the Hampton Inn Bama Bash All-Tournament team while Perinar was named the MVP.
Alabama started the first set on a 4-0 run but NIU fought back quickly to tie it at 7-7. Later tied at 10-10, the Tide added some distance with a 4-0 run and the margin was the same at the media timeout, 15-11. The Huskies took its first team timeout trailing 18-13 and burned its second three points later down 20-14. Alabama would hold on to win the set, 25-18.
With the Tide trailing 5-3 early, Alabama scored three straight to regain a 6-5 lead. A solo block from Hall put the Tide up 12-10 at the halfway mark and a kill from Swink made it 15-13 at media timeout. Back-to-back points after the break increased the lead to 17-13 and NIU spent its first team timeout of the set. Each team scored four more points before NIU’s next timeout at 21-17. The Huskies would fight to tie it up late at 22-22, forcing Alabama to burn a team timeout before score three straight to win the frame, 25-22.
Alabama was dominant to open the third set, building a 10-3 lead before NIU called its first team timeout. The Tide kept rolling, building a double-digit lead at 16-16 and eventually running away with a 13-point victory, 25-12, for the sweep.
Alabama returns to Foster Auditorium Tuesday, Sept. 11 hosting Samford (4-6) at 7 p.m. CT.