UAB Blazers Claims First Two in Hail State Invitational

STARKVILLE, Miss. – The UAB volleyball team cruised past its first two opponents on day one of the Hail State Invitational, sweeping North Florida and later topping Jackson State, 3-1. The pair of wins boosted the Blazers to 8-4 this season heading into a matchup with host Mississippi State on Friday.

“Our team played high-level volleyball throughout the entirety of the day, and that’s what I’m most happy about,” said coach Amy Pauly. “It’s hard to play two matches in a day, and they really stepped up and played well. We’re going to have to play our best volleyball of the season tomorrow to compete with Mississippi State.”

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Redshirt junior outside hitter Emma Mitchell continues to be the focal point of the Blazer attack as she led the squad in kills in both matches, totaling 23 kills on the day. The Charlotte, N.C., native contributed all around throughout the day, also adding 14 digs and seven blocks.

“Emma continues to grow and mature with every match that we play,” said Pauly. “She is contributing in every aspect of the game and being a great leader on the floor.”

On the defensive side, redshirt sophomore Anna D’Cruz is still UAB’s anchor as she piled up 12 total blocks on top of her 16 kills on the day. Sophomore libero Brianna Muller followed up her breakout performances a week ago with more steady play as she totaled 26 digs through both contests.

Match 1: UAB 3, North Florida 0

As UAB took care of North Florida in the sweep, the Blazers led the match in digs (41-35), aces (10-6) and blocks (10-4) for the unblemished win.

UAB struck first to begin the initial set of the match and kept the Ospreys at bay up to a 16-10 lead. Despite North Florida heating up to go on a nine-point run soon after, UAB contained the Ospreys and later went on a six-point run to claim the first frame, 25-21.

North Florida started off hot in the second set before four straight points from the Blazers closed the gap to a 9-7 Osprey lead. UAB then managed to take its first lead of the set while stringing together three straight points for a 17-15 advantage. The Blazers didn’t give up the lead beyond that point, pushing ahead until snagging the set by five, 25-20.

The third set was even early on, but UAB took the first notable advantage after a five-point run to lead 10-7. With each response from North Florida beyond that point, the Blazers answered back to maintain the lead throughout the rest of the set. UAB clinched the sweep with a final kill from junior outside hitter Abby Carlile to win the frame, 25-21, and the match, 3-0.

Match 2: UAB 3, Jackson State 1

The overall team stats were tight between the Blazers and Tigers as UAB held the advantage in blocks (10-7) and aces (6-3).

Neither side created much separation in set one until UAB went on a five-point run to take a 20-14 lead. The Blazers kept the pressure on after that, going on to take the set, 25-19.

Set two was much of the same as UAB slowly pulled away with short bursts of three and four points to double Jackson State, 16-8. The Tigers put together a pair of four-point runs to close the gap and later tie things up, but the Blazers then finished things off to claim the frame, 25-22.

The third set looked like the previous two early on as UAB went up 15-10, but Jackson State responded with a few runs to take a 20-19 lead. The Blazers could only tie things up beyond that point as the Tigers went on to pick up a 25-22 win in set three.

UAB rallied back in the fourth set, jumping out to an 11-4 lead after a five-point run. As the two sides traded blows, Jackson State put forth a final burst to draw within one, but the Blazers added three straight points to clinch the set, 25-21, and the match, 3-1.

Article by UAB Communications

UAB Blazers Ready For Ball State Invite, Season Opener

BIRMINGHAM – With its first match of the season only days away, the UAB volleyball team is set to begin year two of the Amy Pauly era.

“I feel really confident about this group heading into the season,” said Pauly. “They have worked really hard all summer to make sure they were prepared for the first day of practice. I feel like our starting point this year is ahead of last year’s, and that’s always the goal. We focus on the process and how every little detail can help move this program forward.”

The Blazers will first be traveling to Muncie, Ind., on Aug. 30 to compete in the Ball State invite, taking on Ball State at 10 a.m. and USF at 2:30 p.m. in Worthen Arena. The squad’s home opener will be the following Tuesday, Sep. 3, at 7 p.m. in Bartow Arena as in-state rival Alabama State comes to town. UAB’s full schedule consists of a 27-game slate, highlighted by 12 home matches featuring seven conference matches and five nonconference matchups including SEC foe Alabama.

“I’m excited for our non-conference slate. We have a good mix of physical teams and scrappy ball control teams that I think are really going to challenge us to play as a unit and play together consistently,” Pauly said. “I’m most excited about how many home opportunities we have. We had a great turn out for matches last year, and I expect Bartow to be rocking this year!”

UAB returns the entirety of its coaching staff after improving in every statistical category and picking up 13 wins in its debut season, the most wins the program has seen since 2013. Along with six newcomers, the Blazers return 10 players in 2019, including four of six starters. Most notably, UAB returns major firepower on the offensive side from last year’s squad as three of its top five attackers will be in green and gold once again this season.

The eldest of the group is redshirt junior Emma Mitchell (pictured), who was second on the team in kills with 231 on the year and tied for the team lead in service aces with 24 last season. Another key cog returning this season is true junior Abby Carlile, who led last year’s squad in kills with 286 and finished third in total blocks with 67 on the season. Rounding out the vital crop of outside hitters returning is redshirt sophomore Alex Kells. The Ontario, Canada, native was top five on the team in kills and service aces, finishing just shy of the 200 kill threshold with 198 and adding the third most service aces with 18 last year.

“We’re returning a solid core,” she said. “I know they have learned from last year and are prepared to take on an even larger offensive role this year.”

For more information on the UAB volleyball team, follow the Blazers on Twitter or Instagram (@UAB_VB).