UA volleyball team to face tough SEC rivals

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – The Alabama volleyball team (9-14, 1-12 SEC) will welcome No. 22 Tennessee (19-5, 10-4 SEC) and Kentucky (13-11, 7-7 SEC) to the Capstone this weekend as the teams head into the final month of the regular season. Friday's match against the Lady Volunteers is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. CT, while Sunday's contest versus the Wildcats will start at 1 p.m. CT and will air live on FSN.

Last week, Alabama dropped a pair of road matches at Arkansas, 3-1, and No. 16 LSU 3-0. In Friday's contest versus the Razorbacks, sophomore Kayla Fitterer led the Alabama offense with 15 kills followed by senior Alyssa Meuth, who added 13. Fitterer also scooped up 11 digs for her third consecutive double-double. Senior Kayla Schmidt tallied a team-high 27 assists, while sophomore Kelsey Anderson recorded a team-best 19 digs. For the match, Arkansas narrowly out-hit Alabama collecting 55 kills on a .227 attacking percentage compared to the Tide's 53 kills and .214 hitting percentage. The teams were tied in assists, 52-52, and blocks, 6.0-6.0, but the Razorbacks collected two more service aces than Alabama, 3-1. On Sunday against the Tigers, Meuth led all attackers in the match with 14 kills, while Anderson tallied a match-high 13 digs. Schmidt and junior Stephanie Riley split the setting duties collecting 15 assists and 16 assists, respectively. For the match, LSU hit .352 with 50 kills and 13 errors, while Alabama recorded a .192 hitting percentage with 39 kills and 19 errors. The Tigers had one more block than the Tide (5.0-4.0), however LSU did commit three more service errors than Alabama (8-5).

Tennessee won a trio of matches last week with a 3-1 win over Louisville followed by a pair of 3-0 victories against Auburn and Georgia. Senior Nikki Fowler collected a combined 34 kills with just seven errors in the three matches to lead the Lady Vol offense. She is the team's season leader in kills as well averaging 3.70 per frame followed by junior Kayla Jeter with 3.02 kills per set. Senior Emily Steinbeck and freshman Kylann Schneidt have split the setting duties as of late with 5.70 and 5.65 assists per set, respectively. Leading the Lady Volunteer defense is freshman Kelsey Robinson, who averages 3.57 digs per set. Tennessee came out on top 3-0 (25-17, 25-21, 26-24) in this season's earlier meeting to bring the series record to 28-11 in favor of the Lady Vols. Tennessee has won five straight against Alabama dating back to Oct. 21, 2007, where the Tide won 3-0 in Tuscaloosa.

Kentucky picked up a duo of sweeps last week, first against Georgia then versus Auburn. In Friday's match against the Bulldogs, the Wildcats collected a season-best 15.5 blocks that helped to limit Georgia's hitting percentage to -.010. The Kentucky net defenders were near as strong on Sunday with 11.5 blocks allowing the Tigers an overall hitting percentage of .108. Senior Lauren Rapp collected 10 of the 27 Wildcat rejections, including seven against Auburn. Offensively, three Kentucky attackers are averaging better than 2.50 kills per frame including redshirt freshman Whitney Billings (2.67 k/s), Rapp (2.64 k/s) and senior Blaire Hiler (2.52 k/s). Sophomore Christine Hartmann leads the team in assists with 9.33 per set, while sophomore Stephanie Klefot averages a team-best 4.13 digs per set. In the season's earlier meeting, the Wildcats beat the Tide 3-1 (15-25, 25-22, 25-19, 25-12) to jump ahead in the overall series 22-12. Kentucky has won five consecutive matches against Alabama with the Tide's last win coming on Oct. 19, 2007 in Tuscaloosa.

The first 150 fans in the door on Friday will receive a free volleyball. In addition, the team will be signing autographs following both matches this weekend. 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 Beat Auburn Beat Hunger.
INFORMATION SOURCE: University of Alabama Athletic Department