It is not an uncommon sight to see a red No. 2 jersey dive to the floor to make a big dig for the Alabama Crimson Tide volleyball team.
Senior Natalie Murison has been doing just that, playing three different defensive positions for Alabama, since her freshman year.
Murison, a team captain, has sacrificed to her body to the extent she doesn’t feel the ill effects of those dives.
“Not really,” Murison said. “I have some burns that have been there for a while, but no, I am pretty much used to it.”
Murison values a big defensive play as a spark to set the team up well offensively in key moments of matches.
“We always say to hit the floor because you’ll never know,” Murison said. “When you can make those plays that’s a big motivation for us and that’s a lot of intensity we can gain from that. That’s something we really focus on, just going for every ball.”
Head coach Ed Allen appreciates the level of intensity Murison brings as a defensive specialist for his team.
“She consistently gives a solid effort,” Allen said. “She does a really good job of pursuing balls. She’s a highly competitive kid that wants to win and pays the price to do it.”
Murison has eight scheduled matches left in her Alabama career. While she is focused on one match at a time, she said she has cherished each practice and each game, as her career winds down.
The next match for the Crimson Tide will be rival Auburn on Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Auburn Arena in Auburn.
While Allen downplays the Alabama-Auburn rivalry as just another match, Murison looks forward to a chance to play the Tigers.
“We always get pumped up for that game, especially going to their place,” Murison said. “We know they are going to have a lot of fans. We will need to control our emotions and our energy level. It’s always a good game between us, so I am definitely very excited.”
Murison expects nothing short of a strong fight from Auburn, (12-8, 5-6 SEC).
For many Alabama freshman, this will be the first time they face-off against the rival. Murison’s message to them will be to focus on their games and keep a strong focus.
“Just control our side of the net,” Murison said. “We can’t control what they are doing, so we just focus on our side and doing whatever we can. Controlling what we can control and not letting their fans affect us in anyway.”
Alabama, (16-8, 4-6 SEC), can use the Auburn match as a way to built its RPI late in the season, according to Allen. Auburn ranks 41st in RPI, with Alabama trailing at 47.
A mid-40s finish in the RPI will deliver Alabama with a solid chance to get back to the NCAA tournament, something Murison and the team haven’t been able to do since her freshman year.
“It was our goal to make it all four years, but unfortunately that did not happen,” Murison said. “It’s definitely one of our big goals this year to get back to the tournament and win as many matches as we can.”