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Texas A&M Travels to Face Alabama, Auburn

October 16, 2013
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Courtesy: Texas A&M Athletics
(photo: Texas A&M Athletics)

Texas A&M (10-6, 2-3 SEC) vs. Alabama (14-5, 2-3 SEC)
Friday, Oct. 18, 2013
7 p.m., Foster Auditorium
Tuscaloosa, Ala.

Texas A&M vs. Auburn
Sunday, Oct. 20, 2013
2 p.m., Auburn Arena
Auburn, Ala.
TV: SportSouth (FS Southwest In Texas)

Texas A&M Travels to Face Alabama, Auburn

COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- Texas A&M (10-6, 2-3 SEC) makes a two-match road swing through Alabama this weekend, taking on the Alabama Crimson Tide, Friday at 7 p.m. at Foster Auditorium in Tuscaloosa and then facing Auburn Sunday at 2 p.m. at Auburn Arena. The match against the Tigers will be televised live by SportSouth.

The Aggies are coming off a three-set sweep against Mississippi State on Friday in College Station, snapping A&M’s three-match losing streak. Alabama is 14-5 overall and 2-3 in SEC play after falling to No. 25 Missouri, 3-1, in Columbia on Sunday. Auburn enters the weekend 10-7 overall and 1-4 in league play after defeating Ole Miss, 3-1, Sunday in Oxford. The Tigers, who host LSU on Friday, snapped a six-match losing skid with the win against the Rebels.

FOLLOW THE ACTION:

·      Live video of the A&M-Alabama match can be seen at RollTide.com for a fee

·      The A&M-Auburn match will be televised by FOX Sports’ regional network SportSouth with Pete Pranica and Phil Bush calling the action. The match can be seen on FS Southwest in the Bryan/College Station Area (Suddenlink channel 25/750; DirecTV channel 676)

·      Live stats will be available on AggieAthletics.com

·      Updates and other information can be found by following AggieVolleyball on Twitter.com

UP NEXT:

The Aggies return home next weekend to play host to Arkansas and No. 18 Missouri, Friday, Oct. 25 and Sunday, Oct. 27, respectively. The match against the Razorbacks is at 6 p.m., and first serve against Missouri is at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday at Reed Arena.

TEXAS A&M TEAM NOTES:

·      Texas A&M ranks third in the SEC in kills (14.28), assists (13.24) and digs (16.24) per set for the full season. Nationally, A&M entered the week 18th in kills and 25th in assists per set

·      Five starters are averaging at least 2.50 points per set: sophomore outside hitters Sierra Patrick (3.66 pps) and Angela Lowak (3.45 pps); sophomore middle blocker Shelby Sullivan (3.16 pps); redshirt freshman middle blocker Jazzmin Babers (2.72 pps); and senior setter Allie Sawatzky (2.54 pps).

·      A&M has used nine different starting lineups in 16 matches. Only setter Allie Sawatzky and middle blockers Shelby Sullivan and Jazzmin Babers have started every match. Senior Kelsey Kinley has started off every match as the designated libero.

·      In the season opener against South Dakota State, five of six A&M players were making the first start of their collegiate careers, including freshman outside hitter Emily Hardesty and redshirt freshman middle blocker Jazzmin Babers.

·      Sophomores and freshmen have accounted for 80 percent of A&M’s total kills (659 of 828), 94 percent or 30 of 32 of the team’s solo blocks and 178 of 203 (88 percent) of the team’s block assists. The underclassmen also are responsible for 812 of 1035.5 (78 percent) of A&M’s total points.

·      Four of A&M’s six losses have been to ranked opponents. The Aggies, who have played more Top 25 opponents than any other SEC team, are 1-4 against Top 25 teams, defeating No. 16 Florida State, 3-0, and falling to No. 7 Michigan, 3-2, No. 15 Iowa State, 3-1, and both No. 3 Florida and No. 22 Colorado State, 3-0.

·      Texas A&M won two of three pre-conference tournaments, winning the UTSA Classic with a 3-0 mark and winning its own Texas A&M Invitational. The Aggies, No. 7 Michigan and No. 16 Florida State all finished with 2-1 records in College Station, but A&M was awarded the trophy based on the sets won-lost ratio tiebreaker. A&M placed second at the season-opening UND Classic, won by No. 15 Iowa State.

·      Eleven of A&M’s 29 scheduled matches will be against teams that appeared in the 2012 NCAA Championship, including Michigan and Florida State, who reached the Final Four in 2012 and 2011, respectively. A&M is currently 3-4 against last year’s NCAA tournament teams.

·      Texas A&M head coach Laurie Corbelli returns two starters -- setter Allie Sawatzky and outside hitter Heather Reynolds, who is a defensive specialist this year -- and eight other letterwinners from last year’s team that won the SEC West with a 16-4 record and was 25-6 overall with a No. 17 final RPI after advancing to the NCAA second round, where the Aggies fell to eventual national champion Texas. She also welcomes two redshirt freshmen and four true freshmen.

·      A&M, the 2012 SEC Western Division Champion, was picked to win the SEC West again this year, along with LSU, according to a preseason vote of the league’s head coaches. However, in a meeting held in late August, the SEC athletics directors passed a measure, effective immediately, to recognize and award divisional champions in the sports of football and baseball only.

AGGIE PLAYER Notes:

·      Senior setter Allie Sawatzky leads the SEC with five triple-doubles, including a 10-kill, 25-assist, 12-dig performance in a sweep against Mississippi State in the Aggies’ most recent outing. Arkansas setter Raymariely Santos has one triple-double and is the only other SEC player to register a triple-double this season. Sawatzky is tied for the league-lead with 12 double-doubles.

·      Sawatzky, a 6-2 lefty, has recorded 10 or more kills eight times over the last 11 matches and is hitting a combined .479 when posting 10 or more kills [87 kills, 8 errors, 165 attempts]. She is hitting a team-leading .335 for the season, ranking 14th in the SEC, while averaging 2.12 kills per set. In addition, she is averaging 9.69 assists. Sawatzky, who hit a career-high .714 (minimum 10 kills) with 10 kills, zero errors in 14 attempts in the sweep against Mississippi State, is hitting .409 in SEC matches only, fifth highest in the league.

·      Sawatzky has started every match of her career (108) and played in 399 of 402 total sets during her career. She had 40 assists against South Carolina on Oct. 6, giving her 3,929 assists for her career and moving her into third place in the A&M records, surpassing Yvonne Van Brandt, who had 3,894 assists from 1986-89. Sawatzky needs 26 points to move into the A&M top 10 for career points, overtaking former middle blocker Kelly Stanton who tallied 828.5 points from 2004-07.

·      Middle blocker Shelby Sullivan has hit above .300 in each of the five matches, including a career-high .632 (minimum 10 kills) at South Carolina, recording 13 kills with only one error in 19 attempts. She is hitting .315 for the full season and leads the Aggies and ranks fourth in the SEC with a .416 hitting efficiency in conference matches only.

·      Babers is second in the SEC and 48th in the nation with 1.26 blocks per set for the full season. The 6-2 redshirt freshman, who is fourth in the SEC with 1.33 blocks per set in league matches only, has recorded nine or more blocks in a match three times this season.

·      Babers, the SEC Defensive Player of the Week on Sept. 16, had a career-high 11 blocks against No. 7 Michigan (Sept. 13). It is the most blocks by an A&M freshman since Melissa Munsch collected 13 against Colorado on Oct. 24, 2001

·      Freshman Victoria Arenas made her A&M libero debut in the third set against South Carolina on Oct. 6. For the first point of the set, Arenas dug a hard-driven ball that then went over the net and fell in for a kill. It was the first kill of her A&M career. Arenas has appeared in 12 matches overall, starting four, and in 35 sets. She is averaging 1.71 digs per set.

·      Sophomore Sierra Patrick has posted double-figure kills in six of her last eight matches and in a team-leading 10 matches overall. Patrick, who missed the Colorado State match to attend a funeral, leads A&M and is 11th in the SEC with 3.37 kills per set. She also leads A&M and is 13th in the conference with 3.66 points per set, having seen action on both the left and right sides.

·      Patrick, a two-time all-tournament selection in 2013, has posted 20 or more kills in a team-leading three matches this season.

·      Sophomore outside hitter Angela Lowak has posted double-figure kills in nine matches this season, including in two of the last three matches. She is second on the team and ranks 16th in the SEC in both kills (3.12) and points (3.45) per set.

·      Senior libero Kelsey Kinley leads the Aggies and ranks 10th in the SEC with 3.82 digs per set. The College Station native has tallied 10 or more digs in 13 of 16 matches, including a career-high and team season-high 23 in a 3-1 victory at UTSA.

·      Redshirt freshman middle blocker Jazzmin Babers has started every match this season and is one of four freshmen on the team to start a match. Outside hitter Emily Hardesty has started six matches, and setter/opposite hitter Kaysie Shebeneck has started five matches. In addition, defensive specialist/libero Victoria Arenas has started four matches. Arenas, Babers and Shebeneck all started against Michigan, marking the first time A&M had three freshmen in the starting lineup this season. The trio also was in the starting lineup at Colorado State.

SCOUTING ALABAMA:

·         Alabama is 14-5 overall and tied with A&M for seventh in the SEC with a 2-3 record in conference matches.

·         The Crimson Tide went 1-1 on the road last week, defeating Arkansas, 3-1, on Friday to snap a seven-match losing skid against the Razorbacks, and then falling at No. 25 Missouri, 3-1.

·         Alabama is 7-2 in home matches. The only losses were to No. 18 Kentucky, 3-1, on Sept. 29, and to No. 3 Florida, 3-0, on Oct. 6.

·         Alabama is third in the SEC with a .267 hitting percentage and fourth in the league with 14.09 kills per set, but the Tide is 12th in the league in blocks (1.72) and digs (13.47) per set and last in opponent hitting percentage (.206).

·         Redshirt freshman middle blocker Krystal Rivers leads Alabama and is ranked fourth in the SEC with a .454 hitting percentage for the full season. She also averages a team-best 3.53 kills and 4.21 points per set, ranking sixth in the SEC in both categories.

·         Sophomore setter Sierra Wilson is third in the SEC with 11.76 assists per set for the full season.

·         Ed Allen (Ball State, 1988) is 43-39 in his third season as head coach of the Crimson Tide.

SCOUTING AUBURN:

·         Auburn is 10-7 overall and 1-4 in league play, as well as 2-4 in home matches entering a home contest against LSU on Friday.

·         Most recently, the Tigers defeated Ole Miss, 3-1, on Sunday, snapping a six-match losing skid.

·         In the second match of the season, Auburn stunned No. 10 Nebraska, 3-1.

·         Katherine Culwell leads the Tigers with 3.29 kills per set, ranking 13th in the SEC.

·         Rick Nold is 38-39 in his third season as head coach of the Tigers.

ALL-TIME SERIES RECORDS:

A&M is a combined 8-0 against both Alabama and Auburn. Last year in the Aggies’ first year as a member of the SEC, A&M swept the home-and-home series against each team, defeating the Tide, 3-0, in both meetings and holding off Auburn, 3-1, in two closely contested matches.

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