Noah Fleischman, Sports Editor
Volleyball knocked off unbeaten Alabama 3-2 in five sets Friday night in the second match of the VCU Invitational, as senior outside hitter Vicky Giommarini logged 13 kills.
The Rams used a 5-0 scoring run in the fifth set to force Alabama to call a timeout with VCU leading 10-5.
After the timeout, the Crimson Tide went on a 3-1 run to pull within three points, forcing another timeout this time for VCU. Alabama’s momentum did not stop during the timeout as they scored four more unanswered points, pulling within one.
The Rams battled back and pulled away from the Crimson Tide in the final set. A senior middle blocker Jasmin Sneed kill and an Alabama attack error, put the Rams one point away from the win. Senior opposite hitter Gina Tuzzolo hammered home the kill to secure the set and the match for VCU.
“It’s great that we went five becuause then the girls got used to playing five sets — we haven’t played one this season,” coach Jody Rogers said. “Those will really come into play later on in the season, you need to have that kind of exposure to a five setter. We just fought, so we came back relentless.”
The black and gold won the final set 15-12 in a raucous Siegel Center to beat Alabama.
Playing a top caliber team like Alabama gave the Rams an early season test and prepared them for what’s yet to come.
“It makes the girls be comfortable being uncomfortable and that’s what we want to do,” Rogers said. “We want to play the top teams, so the girls can be ready for the A-10s and then later for the postseason.”
The Rams started where they left off Thursday night with a block by Sneed and Tuzzolo earning the first point of the match.
VCU outscored the Crimson Tide 9-1 midway through the first set to take a seven point lead. The scoring run was sparked by Giommarini’s service ace to tie the set at eight a piece.
The Rams logged three service aces en route to taking the first set from Alabama 25-17.
Giommarini led the Rams in the opening set with five kills on six attacks, hitting .833.
Alabama surged to the lead in the second set, outscoring the Rams 7-1 to take a six point lead.
The Rams showed some life late in the second set going on a 3-0 scoring run to pull back within six points, forcing the Crimson Tide to call a timeout. Alabama took the set moments later 25-18, evening the score at one.
Alabama opened the third set scoring three quick points before the Rams tied it back up at three a piece. VCU scored another three unanswered moments later to take a 9-5 lead, forcing the Crimson Tide to call a timeout.
The Rams carried their momentum after the Alabama timeout, outscoring the Crimson Tide 11-6 and forcing them to call their final timeout of the set.
VCU pulled ahead in the match as they won the third set 25-18, holding a 2-1 lead.
Giommarini helped close the third set for the Rams with back-to-back service aces, and Tuzzolo ended it with a kill.
“She’s par for the course,” Rogers said of Giommarini. “She’s steady and calm in pressure situations, she elevates her play. She doesn’t make mistakes when it’s later on in a set.”
In the fourth set, the Rams forced an Alabama timeout after going on a 4-1 scoring run, capped off by a Giommarini kill.
After the timeout, the Crimson Tide outscored VCU 6-2, forcing Rogers to burn a timeout. Alabama took the set 25-17, tying the match at two.