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Texas A&M Travels to Face Mississippi State, Ole Miss

November 07, 2013
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Courtesy: Texas A&M Athletics
(photo: Texas A&M Athletics)

TEXAS A&M (11-10, 3-7 SEC) VS. MISSISSIPPI STATE (11-14, 2-9 SEC)
Friday, Nov. 8, 2013
7 p.m., Newell-Grissom Building
Starkville, Miss.

TEXAS A&M VS.OLE MISS
Sunday, Nov. 10, 2013
1:30 p.m., Gillom Sports Center
Oxford, Miss.

COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- Texas A&M (11-10, 3-7 SEC) travels to Mississippi this weekend to begin a challenging stretch in which the Aggies play three road matches over a six-day span. A&M begins the journey Friday, playing in Starkville, Miss., for the first time in program history as the Aggies take on the Mississippi State Bulldogs. The match begins is at 7 p.m. at the Newell-Grissom Building. On Sunday, the Aggies face Ole Miss in Oxford with a 1:30 p.m. first serve at the Gillom Sports Center. A&M then has a quick turnaround as the Aggies meet LSU Wednesday, Nov. 13 in Baton Rouge.

A&M, a combined 9-0 all-time against both Mississippi State and Ole Miss, is coming off a 3-2 (24-26, 25-23, 25-8, 24-26, 16-14) loss to No. 5 Florida Sunday in College Station. It was the Aggies’ second consecutive match against a top-10 team, having fallen to No. 7 and league-leading Missouri, 3-0, the previous Sunday.

The Bulldogs suffered their fifth consecutive loss and dropped to 11-14 overall and 2-9 in SEC play after falling to rival Ole Miss, 3-1 (25-20, 20-25, 25-15, 25-20) Wednesday in Starkville. Ole Miss snapped a three-match losing skid with the victory over Mississippi State to improve to 12-12 overall and 2-9 in SEC play entering a Friday match at last-place Tennessee.

FOLLOW THE ACTION

·         A link to a free video stream of the A&M-Mississippi State match will be provided at AggieAthletics.com

·         Check Olemisssports.com for a subscription-based video feed of Sunday’s match.

·         Link to live stats for both matches will be available on AggieAthletics.com Updates and other information can be found by following AggieVolleyball on Twitter.com

UP NEXT

A&M looks to avenge a 3-2 home loss to rival LSU when the Aggies take on the Tigers at the Pete Maravich Center in Baton Rouge, La., Wednesday, Nov. 13. The match begins at 6 p.m. and will be televised by COX Sports TV.

RECENT RESULTS

Texas A&M’s upset bid against No. 5 Florida came up short as the Gators narrowly escaped Reed Arena with a hard-fought 24-26, 25-23, 25-8, 24-26, 16-14 victory Sunday afternoon. It was the third five-set match for the Aggies this season and it marked  the second time A&M lost to a top-10 team by two points in the fifth set this season, as No. 7 Michigan also used a match-ending ace to escape with a 15-13 victory in the final set at Reed Arena on Sept. 13. This was the second consecutive match in which the Aggies took the Gators to five sets in College Station.

Sophomore outside hitter Angela Lowak led A&M with 18 kills while hitting .406. Sophomore middle blocker Shelby Sullivan hit .387 with 15 kills, one shy of her career high, and sophomore opposite hitter Sierra Patrick added 11 kills. Senior setter Allie Sawatzky dished out 48 assists as the Aggies hit .253.

Defensively, A&M senior libero Heather Reynolds led all players with a season-high 18 digs. Freshman outside hitter Emily Hardesty, who had a career-high eight kills, contributed 11 digs, and senior defensive specialist Kelsey Kinley also reached double figures in digs with 10. Freshman Jazzmin Babers led A&M in blocks with three.

Florida senior All-American middle blocker Chloe Mann led all players with a career-high 22 kills, and junior libero Taylor Unroe had six aces, including the match clincher, which clipped the top of the net and fell in untouched to close out the Gators’ victory.

TEXAS A&M TEAM NOTES

·         Texas A&M ranks third in the SEC and 18th in the nation with 14.29 kills per set for the full season. The Aggies are fourth in the league and 20th in the country with 13.32 assists per set.

·         A&M is fifth in the conference in both hitting percentage (.244) and digs per set (15.70); however, A&M is 13th in opponent hitting percentage (.222).

·         In SEC matches only, A&M is fourth in both kills (14.00) and assists (13.11) per set and fifth in hitting percentage (.252)

·         Five starters are averaging more than 2.40 points per set, including senior lefty setter Allie Sawatzky, who averages 2.47 points per set. Sophomore outside hitter Sierra Patrick leads all players with 3.49 points per set, followed by sophomore middle blocker Shelby Sullivan (3.42 pps); sophomore outside hitter Angela Lowak (3.21 pps); and redshirt freshman middle blocker Jazzmin Babers (2.68 pps).

·         A&M has used 10 different starting lineups in 21 matches and 11 different lineups when considering the designated libero. Only setter Allie Sawatzky and middle blockers Shelby Sullivan and Jazzmin Babers have started every match. They are also the only three who have played in all 77 sets.

·         In the season opener against South Dakota State, five of six A&M players were making the first start of their collegiate careers, including freshmen Emily Hardesty and Jazzmin Babers at outside hitter and middle blocker, respectively. Senior setter Allie Sawatzky was the only upperclassman in the lineup, as sophomore outside hitters Angela Lowak and Sierra Patrick and sophomore middle blocker Shelby Sullivan also drew their first career starts.

·         Sophomores and freshmen have accounted for 81 percent of A&M’s total kills (887 of 1100), 95 percent or 37 of 39 of the team’s solo blocks and 229 of 263 (87 percent) of the team’s block assists. The underclassmen also are responsible for 1081.5 of 1357.5 (80 percent) of A&M’s total points.

·         Six of A&M’s losses have been to ranked opponents. The Aggies, who lead the SEC with seven matches against Top 25 opponents, are 1-6 against ranked foes, defeating Florida State, 3-0, and falling to No. 7 Michigan, 3-2, No. 15 Iowa State, 3-1, and No. 11 Missouri and No. 22 Colorado State, 3-0. A&M fell to third-ranked Florida, 3-0, in Gainesville and then lost to the No. 5 Gators, 3-2, in College Station.

·         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 4-6 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 most recently a 10-kill, 25-assist, 12-dig performance in a sweep against Mississippi State on Oct. 11. Arkansas setter Raymariely Santos has one triple-double and is the only other SEC player to register a triple-double this season. Sawatzky is second in the league with 14 double-doubles.

·         Sawatzky, a 6-2 lefty, has recorded 10 or more kills 10 times this season and is hitting a combined .448 when posting 10 or more kills. She is second on the team and 17th in the SEC with a .291 hitting percentage, while averaging 2.09 kills per set. In addition, she is averaging 10.01 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 .284 in SEC matches only, ranking 19th in the league.

·         Sawatzky has started every match of her career (113) at setter and has played in 418 of 421 total sets during her career. She moved into third place in the A&M career records on Oct. 6 at South Carolina, surpassing Yvonne Van Brandt, who had 3,894 assists from 1986-89. Sawatzky, who now has 4,211 career assists, also ranks 10th in the career records with 845.5 points.

·         Middle blocker Shelby Sullivan is second in the SEC with a .452 hitting percentage in conference matches only. She has posted double-figure kills in each of the last three matches, including a career-high 16 kills against both Arkansas and No. 7 Missouri, while hitting a combined .525.

·         Sullivan hit a career-high .682 (16k-0e-22ta) against Missouri, ranking eighth in the A&M single match records when making 20 or more attack attempts, and her 16 kills against the Tigers is the most by an A&M player in a three-set match this season. Sullivan is seventh in the SEC and 59th in the nation with a .362 hitting percentage for the full season.

·         Jazzmin Babers is second in the SEC and 58th in the nation with 1.23 blocks per set for the full season. The 6-2 redshirt freshman, who is fifth in the SEC with 1.24 blocks per set in league matches only, has recorded nine or more blocks in a match three times this season, and her nine blocks in the sweep against Georgia on Sept. 29 ties for the league lead for most blocks in a 3-set SEC match 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.

·         Sophomore Sierra Patrick has posted double-figure kills in a team-leading 13 matches and leads the Aggies and is 10th in the SEC with 3.20 kills per set for the full season. She also leads A&M and is 14th in the conference with 3.49 points per set for the full season, 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 four matches this season.

·         Sophomore outside hitter Angela Lowak has posted double-figure kills in 11 matches this season, including a career-high 21 kills against Loyola Marymount. She is second on the team and ranks 17th in the SEC with 2.93 kills per set.

·         Senior setter/defensive specialist Mariah Agre leads the team and is seventh in the SEC with 0.32 aces per set for the full season.

·         Senior Heather Reynolds was the designated libero for the first time in her career against Arkansas on Oct. 25 and has now been the libero in each of the last three matches. Most recently, she had a match-high and season-high 18 digs against Florida.

·         Senior Kelsey Kinley, who has been the libero in 18 matches, leads the Aggies and ranks 11th in the SEC with 3.53 digs per set. The College Station native has tallied 10 or more digs in a team-leading 16 matches, including a career-high and team season-high 23 in a 3-1 victory at UTSA. Kinley has taken or tied for team-high honors in digs in 12 matches overall.

·         Freshman Emily Hardesty has started each of the last fourth matches as an outside hitter. Most recently the 6-2 Plano, Texas native had a career-high eight kills against No. 5 Florida and also pitched in 11 digs.

·         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 untouched for a kill. It was the first kill of her A&M career. Arenas, who has been a defensive specialist for all but the two sets she played libero, has appeared in 17 matches overall -- starting six -- and in 51 sets. She had a career-high 20 digs in the 3-1 win against Arkansas on Oct. 25 and is currently second on the team with 2.52 digs per set in SEC matches.

·         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/opposite hitter Emily Hardesty has started 10 matches, and setter/opposite hitter Kaysie Shebeneck has started five matches. In addition, defensive specialist/libero Victoria Arenas has started six 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 has now appeared in the starting lineup three times overall.

SCOUTING MISSISSIPPI STATE

·         The Bulldogs (11-14, 2-9 SEC) are led by freshman 6-2 opposite hitter Kimmy Gardiner, who is third in the SEC in both kills (4.08) and points (4.56) per set. She is coming off a team-high 17-kill, .326 hitting performance against Ole Miss.

·         Earlier this season, MSU snapped a 24-match SEC losing skid with a 3-0 victory over South Carolina, a team that defeated the Aggies earlier this season.

·         State ranks second in the league with 16.85 digs per set and third with 1.45 aces per set for the full season.

·         Individually, Roxanne McVey is second in the SEC with 5.35 digs per set, and the Bulldogs have four players in the SEC top 20 for aces per set.

·         Jenny Hazelwood (Mississippi State ‘00) is in her fifth season as head coach of the Bulldogs.

SCOUTING OLE MISS

·         The Rebels are 12-12 overall and 2-9 in SEC play entering a match at Tennessee (9-16, 1-10 SEC) on Friday.

·         Sophomore 6-1 middle blocker Nakeyta Clair led the Rebels with a career-high 19 kills while hitting .536 at Mississippi State on Wednesday as Ole Miss outhit MSU, .299 to .214. She leads the team and is 15th in the SEC with a .314 overall hitting percentage. She also leads the team and is fourth in the SEC with 1.19 blocks per set.

·         Libero Cara Fisher recorded a career-high and team-leading 17 digs against the Bulldogs. She averages 2.23 digs per set for the full season.

·         Joe Getzin (George Williams College ‘86) is in his 12 season as head coach of the Rebels.

ALL-TIME SERIES RECORDS

·         A&M is a combined 9-0 in the all-time series against both Mississippi State and Ole Miss, including 3-0 in SEC matches.

Mississippi State:

·         A&M is 2-0 against Mississippi State, including a 25-19, 25-21, 25-16 victory over the Bulldogs in College Station on Oct. 11. Senior setter Allie Sawatzky led the Aggies with a triple-double (10 kills, 25 assists and 12 digs) while hitting a career-high .714. A&M outhit the Bulldogs, .291 to .148 for the match, leading in kills, 42-39. Mariah Agre finished with three aces to help the Aggies to a 6-1 advantage in aces, and Shelby Sullivan had a career-high seven blocks to pace the Maroon and White to an 11-3 lead in team blocks.

·         Last year, A&M defeated Mississippi State, 25-8, 25-14, 25-10, in College Station.

Ole Miss:

·         A&M is 7-0 against Ole Miss, including 2-0 in SEC matches, as well as 1-0 in Oxford.

·         A&M swept the Rebels last year in the Aggies’ first-ever SEC match and narrowly escaped with a 25-9, 24-26, 27-25, 20-25-15-10 victory in Oxford in both teams’ regular-season finale.

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