TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – The Alabama volleyball team (8-3, 0-1 SEC) hosts its first SEC match of the season on Friday, Sept. 24, at 7 p.m. CT when it welcomes No. 17 LSU (11-0, 2-0 SEC). The match will serve as the Crimson Tide's annual Cram the CAVE event.
"It's our last season here (in the CAVE), and we have an SEC West opponent in LSU," Alabama head coach Judy Green said. "Our attendance record was set in 2006, and we really want to beat that before we leave this facility."
Alabama is coming off a 3-0 (30-28, 25-22, 25-22) loss at Mississippi in the Southeastern Conference opener. The loss broke the Tide's seven match winning streak. Sophomore Kayla Fitterer paced the team in kills with eight, while senior Alyssa Meuth collected seven and freshman Shelbi Goode put down six. Senior Kayla Schmidt and junior Stephanie Riley each dished out 13 assists in the match. Sophomore Kelsey Anderson scooped up a team-best 15 digs. Hitting errors doomed Alabama, as the Tide finished the match with a .079 hitting percentage. The Rebels also recorded 12.0 blocks to Alabama's 7.0 rejections.
LSU opened up SEC play last weekend as well, knocking off Auburn and Georgia. The Tigers' 11-0 start is the best start since the 1991 season. LSU also moved up in the rankings, jumping up two spots this week from 19 to 17. The Tigers lead the SEC with 13.30 assists per set, while also pacing the conference in opponent hitting percentage, limiting teams to just .141. Individually, Angela Bensend leads the SEC with 4.41 kills per set. She recently tied a career-high with 22 kills against Auburn. Brittney Johnson is averaging 10.79 assists per set, good enough for first in the conference as well. Defensively, Lauren Waclawczyk leads the Tigers with 4.29 digs per set, which is fifth-best in the conference.
In the overall series, LSU leads the Tide 28-22. The Tigers have won the last seven meetings, with Alabama's last victory coming at home in 2006. The Tide holds a 14-11 edge in Tuscaloosa.
"We need to play disciplined defense as a team and work on our digging," Green said. "We lost our rhythm in our last match. We were doing that well earlier in the season, and for some reason we couldn't do that versus Mississippi. I think we got complacent. We were satisfied with what we had done up until that point, and we weren't hungry anymore. We need to adopt the mindset that we always have to practice and play with a chip on our shoulder."
Several promotions will be taking place Friday including a t-shirt giveaway to the first 500 fans in attendance. Big Al, the Million Dollar Band and the cheerleaders will be on hand for the match. Regular admission is $3, however students and children 12 and under will receive free admission. In addition, those who bring a canned good to the match will be let in free as part of the SEC's Together we CAN Food Drive.