Aug 30, 2013
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. ----- The Blazer volleyball team opened the 2013 season with two home matches in the UAB/Samford Volleyball Tournament at Bartow Arena. UAB (1-1) swept Mercer 3-0 on Friday morning, but fell to No. 6 Minnesota in the second match, 3-0.
Match 2 - Minnesota (2-0) vs. UAB (1-1)
"I was pleased with how the girls played against Minnesota," said Head Coach Kerry Messersmith. "I thought the effort was very good. Obviously Minnesota is huge. I don't know if we will see a block like that in conference, but I am very proud of the fight the girls put up and I think they had great effort.
Leading the Green and Gold was sophomore Sam Skinner. Skinner, the 2012 C-USA Freshman of the Year, tallied 17 kills to just six errors in the three set match against Minnesota to lead all players.
"Obviously Sam Skinner had a fantastic night," remarked Messersmith. "It just shows you what kind of athlete she is and what it takes to compete against one of the best teams in the country."
Junior Sara Rishell and Senior Ally Slaughter led the team with three blocks apiece. Libero Rachel Fairbanks covered the floor on defense for the Blazers grabbing 17 digs, the most of any player on the night. Dishing out the assists, senior Becca Howard collected 24 in the match against the Golden Gophers to lead the team.
The Blazers fought hard against the Golden Gophers but were unable to keep up with high-powered Minnesota. In the first set, UAB stayed close as the teams swapped points until the 13-17 mark when Minnesota went on a six point run to take a 21-14 lead. The Gophers went on to take the first set 25-19.
In the second set, the Blazers got on the board first and kept pace with Minnesota until the Gophers went on a 5-1 run to take an 18-11 lead. Minnesota went on to win the set 25-14. Skinner had a great set as she posted seven of her 17 kills for UAB in set two.
The third set saw Minnesota jump out to an 11-2 lead. The Blazers didn't give up as they rallied to within seven points, but weren't able to overcome the deficit. Minnesota closed out the set with a 25-17 win.
UAB battled throughout the match with Minnesota. The Golden Gophers were led by Tori Dixon, who put down 15 kills on the night. Setter Alexandra Palmer ran the offense tallying 26 assists.
The Blazers will be back on the court Saturday, Aug. 31 as they open up with Presbyterian at 10:00 am CT and then will take on Jacksonville State at 3:00 p.m. CT to close out the tournament.
Match 1 - Mercer vs. UAB
The UAB volleyball team (1-0) opened the 2013 season with a 3-0 victory against Mercer (0-1) on Friday morning at Bartow Arena. The match was the first game of the UAB/Samford Volleyball Challenge.
"We got our first win under our belt," head coach Kerry Messersmith stated. "We were very aggressive and that is what we wanted to do. We came out and served aggressive. We changed our philosophy a little bit with our serving. We missed too many, but still served very aggressive and was able to keep them out of system most of the day."
The first set was closely contested with the Blazers ultimately edging the Bears, 25-20. A 25-16 second stanza gave the squad a 2-0 advantage at the break.
It all came together for the Green and Gold in the third set. The team hit at a clip of .414 to take the set, 25-18, and secure the win.
Junior Kiriana Hirini led the way for UAB, matching her career-best with 13 kills on the day. Hirini led the team in blocks, as well, registering four (one solo) against Mercer.
Classmate Sara Rishell, in her first match as a member of the UAB squad, tallied 10 kills and registered a team-best .471 attacking percentage. Senior Rachel Fairbanks led the squad with 15 digs and shared the team-lead with two service aces.
"I am really proud of our consistency," Messersmith concluded. "We have a long, long way to go, but I think we have had a good start."
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