Freshman Hutson plays key role

Freshman Hutson plays key role

The Alabama volleyball team debuted at No. 2 in the 2015-16 preseason SEC coaches poll. Krystal Rivers, No. 13, was selected as a member of the preseason All-SEC team. UA Athletics

Kayla Montgomery

The freshman star led the Tide in kills in a Montgomery tournament last weekend, and she has been a key player in the Crimson Tide offense after only 
10 matches.

“She’s had a huge impact on the year in general,” coach Ed Allen said. “We’ve been excited about the numbers she’s generated and the attitude that she plays with. As she continues to mature as a competitor, she’s going to be a driving force in this league.”

Hutson began playing the sport after her sister took it up, much against her older sister’s wishes.

“I’m pretty competitive, so I wanted to do it with her and give her a run for her money,” Hutson said. “She never really wanted me to take up volleyball because she wanted it to be her thing, so naturally I’m like, ‘Of course I’m going to do it because she doesn’t want me to.’”

After participating in a recreational league, she transitioned to club volleyball. It was a tournament her sister was also playing in that cemented volleyball as a sport she could excel in. A Kentucky coach came to the tournament 
and took notice.

“The following week I got a letter from Kentucky,” she said. “It was a handwritten letter and kind of joking, but at the same time, it got my hopes up. It’s what inspired me to buckle down and keep working hard. They said, ‘I saw you play, you’re going to have a lot of potential one day.’ That’s when it got real to me, and it gave me a lot of hope and inspiration.”

As her own recruiting process began, Hutson said she wasn’t immediately sold on playing at Alabama. After meeting her future teammates, hearing their perspective on what it meant to play volleyball at Alabama and the direction in which the program was heading, her decision 
was made.

“The way they spoke about Coach [Ed Allen] and the team and the program – I could hear the sincerity in their voice. It wasn’t as if they were reading from a script,” she said. “I loved the coaching staff and how they worked together, and seeing the goal in Coach Allen’s eyes. He wanted to come here and be successful, not just remain the same. He wants to go somewhere and improve this team, and seeing this drive in his eyes was what I was looking for.”

The Tide will play its first home match of the season Tuesday in Foster Auditorium at 7 p.m. against the UAB Blazers, where Hutson looks to set the tone for the season.

“Our first match was great, but to me, this is what is going to bring the sentimental moment,” she said. “People have heard about what we’ve done, but now they can see what we’re really about. There’s a lot of pressure to prove how good we really are, and I think it’s definitely going to set the tone for how we play at home.”