2009 Alabama Crimson Tide Volleyball
The University of Alabama Crimson Tide seem to have a lot of things going for them right now, despite a recent track record of less than spectacular performances. Admittedly, in recent years, their final results have left much to be desired. However, the team does benefit from one very important element: placement in the Southeastern Conference's admittedly weaker western division. What does this mean for the Crimson Tide? Quite simply, that if this well-coached team can continue to make the strides this year that the team has in years past, it may be poised for a surprising season and a strong placement in the SEC West.
Last year, the Crimson Tide managed a record of 16-13 overall. The team managed a rather pedestrian 9-7 mark on its home hardwood, and a 5-7 mark in road contests. The team finished in 2nd in the weaker SEC West division. However, despite the team's 2nd place finish overall, due to the West division's admittedly lower profile, the team ranked in the bottom half of the conference in a number of statistical categories.
What to Look for in 2009
As with all teams that compete in the Southeastern Conference, the Alabama Crimson Tide will have to do their best to deal with the departure of some key contributors from the 2008 season. The ability to overcome the losses of these seniors is key to the team being able to continue to advance in the volleyball world. The one senior whose departure is going to be the most difficult to overcome is that of Amy Pauly. Amy Pauly was one of the most respected players on the Crimson Tide, and was the team's far and away leader in digs, with over 4 per game. The team will also deal with the departure of senior Lindsey Buteyn.
As far as personnel who are returning, the key returning members of the attack are Brooks Webster, who is far and away the team leader in Kills with 4.04 kills per game. Other key contributors on the attack are Alyssa Meuth, at 2.55 kills per game, Ashley Frazier, at 1.91 kills per game, and the aforementioned Buteyn, at 1.80 kills per game. It is going to be up to some of the complementary players like Calli Johnson (1.50 kills per game to overcome the loss of Buteyn).
On defense, this is one key area where it is going to be imperative that the Crimson Tide step up if they do hope to legitimately compete for an SEC West division title. Calli Johnson, at 0.84 blocks per game, is really going to need to work hard to get that per game average up, particularly in light of the fact that the #2 person in blocks per game in 2008 is Buteyn, at 0.56. Tied with Buteyn was Elizabeth Salstrand, at 0.56 as well.
The biggest hole is in the area of digs, where, as mentioned above, Amy Pauly, at 4.01 digs per game, needs to be replaced. It will be up to the players like Brooks Webster (2.73 digs per game), Stephanie Riley (1.83), and Frazier (1.56) to fill the void.
The Alabama Crimson Tide are just a hair away from being legitimate contenders for the SEC West crown. More than likely, the team will manage another 2nd place finish, however, if all of the pieces fall into place, the team just may seize the division.
You can read more about last year's Alabama Crimson Tide Volleyball at 2008 Alabama Crimson Tide Volleyball.
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