Krystal Rivers Named SEC Player of the Year, Hayley McSparin All-Freshman
After leading the conference and ranking among the top five nationally in kills and points all season, Alabama senior Krystal Rivers has been tabbed the SEC Player of the Year, becoming the first Crimson Tide player to receive the prestigious honor. Rivers was also named the Scholar-Athlete of the Year while teammate Hayley McSparin was named to the All-Freshman team.
Rivers is the first player in program history to be named SEC Player of the Year and the second to earn Scholar-Athlete of the Year honors after the first league award was given to Erin Price in 2003. Rivers is the first player in SEC history to earn both Player of the Year and Scholar-Athlete of the year in the same season. She also joins Erin Heffner (2001-04) as the only four time All-SEC honorees at Alabama. McSparin’s All-Freshman accolade is the fifth in program history and third in the last four seasons, joining Rivers (2013) and Kat Hutson (2014).
“It’s very rewarding to see someone like Krystal who works so hard for her career as a student-athlete and volleyball player be recognized and rewarded for those efforts,” UA head coach Ed Allen said. “She arrived here at Alabama as a walk-on with an academic scholarship and is now the first player in SEC history to win both awards in the same season.”
Rivers leads the SEC and is ranked second nationally in kills (640) and is third in points (729.5), kills per set (5.77) and points per set (6.57). She is also second in the SEC in service aces (44) and third in aces per set (0.40). She is the Alabama career record-holder in points (2,432.0) and is only seven kills away from tying Heffner for the Tide career record, which currently stands at 2,090. Rivers earned conference player of the week honors four times this season, the most in a season for any Tide player. In the classroom, she owns a 3.65 cumulative GPA and is currently pursuing a Spanish degree after already earning a degree in biology. She was a CoSIDA Academic All-American in 2014 and earned All-District honors this season with a chance at earning another Academic All-America nod later this year.
“Hayley [McSparin] is in a position to be one of the best offensive players in the league,” Allen said. “We’ve seen her progression all year and she is one of our most consistent attackers behind Krystal. She’s an athletic player who has a chance to be one of the best utility players in the SEC.”
McSparin has appeared in all 29 matches during her freshman season, including 27 starts. She leads the team with a .332 hitting percentage, which ranks 10th in the SEC and is the fourth-highest hitting percentage by a freshman in Alabama history. She is third on the team in points (250.5) and blocks (56) and, in conference play, she is hitting .319 with 126 kills over 16 matches.
Rivers, McSparin and the Tide conclude the regular season this week hosting Ole Miss on Wednesday, Nov. 23 at 7 p.m. CT before traveling to take on LSU on Saturday, Nov. 26.