By Tyler Martin/Special to The Tuscaloosa News
The Alabama volleyball team took the first set against Mississippi State on Wednesday night at Foster Auditorium, but fell in a grueling second set, 39-37.
That was the turning point of the game and set the tone for the rest of the match, which the Crimson Tide won 3-1.
After the tough second-set loss, Alabama won the third and fourth sets, respectively 25-17 and 25-19.
“I told them it was about heart and pride,” Alabama coach Lindsey Devine said. “At the end of the second set, I posed the question, ‘Was that going to be our motivation or was it going to weigh us down like an anchor?’ They used it as motivation because we won the first five points in the third set so we jumped on them early. I was proud of how they battled.”
The 39-37 second set was the most points in a match involving the Crimson Tide (11-5, 3-2 SEC) since 2007.
“We are really proud of this win,” Devine said. “The SEC is tough. Mississippi State is a team that you can not overlook. Even though they are 0-4 in conference play, you have to honor and respect them. I feel like we did those things.
“We wanted to control our side of the court tonight. In our last match against Georgia, we let some sets get away from us. We have been talking this week about having focus, composure, and courage. I really think they responded well.”
Sophomore middle blocker Erin Curl, who had 14 kills, knew the team would be tested against the Bulldogs and she was pleased with the toughness her team showed throughout the match.
“The second set was a good test to what we have been working on in practice,” Curl said. “We always grind and want to have grit when the moments get tough. We pushed through no matter how hard it was and gave it everything we had.”
After playing the last two matches on the road at Auburn and Georgia, Devine and her squad were ecstatic to be back in Tuscaloosa.
“This place is the best,” Devine said. “You could feel the energy on every point, when we got a kill, and when we were diving on the floor. Everyone in Foster could feel everything. We were living.”
Junior outside hitter Doris Carter was everywhere on the hardwood for the Crimson Tide. The South Florida transfer posted a double double, registering 14 kills and 12 digs. Freshman setter Emily Janek set a season-high 55 assists.
“We were communicating a lot better today,” Janek said. “Once we find the hot hitter we just keep going and going and it worked out tonight. You have to just keep fighting and if you want to win you will fight.”
The Crimson Tide will have a nine-day break before their next game Oct. 18 against LSU in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.