LIVINGSTON, Ala. – It was an exciting Friday night inside Pruitt Hall Gymnasium, as two West Alabama alumni faced off as coaches. A former Tiger volleyball player from 2013-16, Callie Murphy took over the Flames volleyball program early in 2021. The current head coach of West Alabama, Hilary Lobenstein, is a former West Alabama student-athlete as well.
Lee University came off victorious in the head-to-head, taking the late-season match 3-2 (25-16, 26-24, 20-25, 22-25, 15-12. With the loss, the Tigers fall to 1-18 and 1-9 in conference play. The Flames improved to 6-15 overall and 4-6 in the Gulf South Conference.
With several starters down, Chyna Dixon stepped up for West Alabama to lead the offense. Dixon, a freshman from Anderson, S. C., landed 14 kills on 38 total attacks. She also added three digs and three blocks. Also, on offense, Nathalia Medeiros and Johana Martin had 12 kills each, and Madison Fisher had 11.
On the defensive side of the ball, Mackenzie Wells led the Tigers with 20 digs. Fisher had her second double-double of the season with 10.
At setter, Maddie Van Dyke recorded a career-high and a team season-high of 43.
As a team, UWA had 58 kills on 156 total attacks for a .199 hitting percentage. The Tigers also had 10 service aces, 50 digs, and 5.0 blocks.
SET ONE (L, 25-16)
After handing three quick points to Lee on attack errors, the Tiger scored their first point of the match on a kill by Madison Fisher to trail the Flames 3-1. Lee grabbed the following two points, one on a service error and a kill, before turning the service over to West Alabama on an attack error. Lee added four more points to its lead before a kill by Chyna Dixon, and Amelia Johnigan for UWA brought the score to 9-4. The two volleyball teams went on a scoring exchange, but the Flames could stay ahead of the Tigers to close the set 25-16. In the first frame, the Tigers tallied 11 kills on 32 attacks for a .094 hitting percentage. Lee also had 11 kills on only 23 total attacks. The Flames committed two attack errors for a .391 hitting percentage.
SET TWO (L, 26-24)
West Alabama took the first serve of set two, but the Flames were able to get the first point on a kill by Abby Stroh. Junior outside hitter Nathalia Medeiros landed a successful attack to give the Tigers the second point. The momentum shifted, and the Tigers went on a four-point scoring run for a 5-1 advantage. UWA miscues gave Lee two points, but the serve soon returned to the Tigers. A kill by Medeiros and Dixon, a bad set by the Flames, and a service ace from Quiara Dunson gave UWA a 9-3 advantage, forcing Lee to call its first time out of the match. Coming back from the timeout, Lee matched the Tigers’ scoring and eventually hacked away at UWA’s lead to come within two, 17-15. The two teams battled for every point and finally tied the frame at 21. Lee took its first lead of the set, 22-21, and quickly reached set point at 24-22. West Alabama did not give up and forced the from into extra points, but Lee took it, 26-24. UWA played much better in the second frame, tallying 13 kills on 37 total attacks for a .162 hitting percentage. Lee again matched the Tigers in kills with 13 on 31 swings and saw a decrease in hitting percentage to .258.
SET THREE (W, 25-20)
The Tigers came out of the gate scoring points, collecting the first three of the frame. Johanna Martin, Medeiros, and Dixon collected back-to-back kills for the 3-0 start. The Flames answered with two kills of their own to cut the UWA lead to 3-2. The teams went on a short scoring exchange before West Alabama pulled ahead, 11-5. Lee was able to battle back to put the set within one, 19-18. Not wanting to give up the lead, the Tigers kept swinging and landed kills on the hands of Fisher, Martin, and Dixon while capitalizing on Flames’ miscues to pull ahead, 23-19. Lee called a time out, and after play resumed, the Tigers moved to within one of closing it out with a kill by Dixon. Lee took a point, but the Tigers closed out the set 25-20 on a service error by Lee. The Tigers improved set again in set three, landing 13 attacks on 33 swings to increase their hitting percentage to .273. The Flames had 12 kills on 35 attacks for a .114 hitting percentage.
SET FOUR (W, 25-22)
Medeiros started the scoring effort in set four, collecting the first point for UWA. The teams took turns scoring until the Tigers took a short scoring run to pull ahead, 7-3. Lee battled back and eventually tied the game at 13. The Flames took their first lead of the set on a service ace to pull ahead, 15-14, and quickly collected three more points before UWA called its first time out. Returning to the court, Medeiros landed another swing, and it started an end-of-set rally to tie the game at 20. Lee would score only two more points in the frame, and the Tigers took the set and the point to force a fifth set. UWA had 16 kills on 32 total attacks for a .312 hitting percentage in set, and Lee recorded 13 on 25 for a .400 hitting percentage.
SET FIVE (L, 15-12)
Both teams came out swinging in the final set of the match. The Tigers collected the first point on a Lee miscue and the second on a kill by Fisher. The two teams would go point-for-point until Lee scored four consecutive points to give the Flames a 7-5 lead. West Alabama took two straight to tie the game at 7 before Lee went on a five-point run. After taking the lead, Lee struggled with errors adding three to allow the Tigers to cut the lead to 13-11. Van Dyke would add one more point for UWA on a kill, but the Flames took the set and the match 15-12.
West Alabama will return to action tomorrow, Saturday, Oct. 30, to take on Shorter University. The first serve is set for 2 p.m. inside Pruitt Hall Gymnasium.