TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – The Alabama volleyball team was edged by No. 2 Florida 3-0 (25-23, 25-21, 25-20) Friday in the CAVE in the Crimson Tide's annual Power of Pink match sponsored by Tuscaloosa Toyota. The loss drops Alabama to 8-8 overall and 0-6 against Southeastern Conference opponents, while the Gators improve to 13-1 on the season and 6-0 in league play.
"The team took ownership in the match tonight," Alabama head coach Judy Green said. "Once we knew we were capable of playing with the No. 2 team in the country, we made it exciting for ourselves. I thought we saw a lot of great leadership tonight especially from senior Alyssa Meuth. She had a fantastic match offensively as well."
Meuth had a match-high 12 kills, while sophomore Kayla Fitterer added an additional 11. Fitterer tallied her fourth double-double of the season and fifth of her career as she also recorded a team-high 16 digs. Senior Kayla Schmidt dished out a match-best 19 assists, and redshirt sophomore Leigh Moyer had a match-high four blocks.
Alabama kept things close to open the match, but Florida reeled off five points in a row to claim a 10-4 lead. The Tide would spend the rest of the set trying to dig out of that hole, putting together a few small runs throughout the set, but was unable to pose a serious threat to the Gators until the very end of the set. With the score at 24-20 in favor of Florida, Alabama won the next three points to make the score 24-23. A kill by senior Callie Rivers on the next point gave the Gators the opening set.
The Tide began the second set in commanding fashion, racing out to a 5-2 lead. Florida would take the lead for the first time at 7-6, but Alabama would stay right on its' heels. The Gators would not lead by more than two points until scoring three straight for an 18-14 advantage. The Tide would stay within striking distance, but could not get closer than three points the rest of the set, and Florida sophomore Tangerine Wiggs put down a kill for a 25-21 Gator victory in set two.
Alabama, once again, started out with the lead in the third, claiming the opening two points. Florida won the next four points and never looked back. The Tide would close it to within one after a kill by Meuth made it a 6-5 lead for the Gators, but Florida went on a 5-2 run to put some distance between the two teams. The Gator lead eventually stretched to 16-9, which prompted an Alabama timeout. A kill by Schmidt gave the Tide the next point, but Florida took the next four to put the match away. The Tide made one last small run to pull within four points at 23-19, but an attack error by Meuth and a kill by Rivers closed out the three set victory for Florida.
For the match, Florida hit .255 with 42 kills and 15 errors off 106 attempts, while Alabama managed a .189 clip with 37 kills and 17 errors also off 106 attempts. The Gators recorded five service aces to the Tide's one. Florida also led in blocks with 7.0 compared to Alabama's 5.0 rejections.
"With the way we played tonight, our confidence was certainly boosted, but we are still in search of that reward," Green added. "We were very aggressive and hungry in the match. I really like the way we played."
Next up, Alabama hosts South Carolina Sunday, Oct. 10, at 1 p.m. CT in the CAVE. The match will air live on FSN.