COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- The Texas A&M volleyball team (8-3) opens Southeastern Conference play as the Aggies play host to the Georgia Bulldogs, Sunday at 1 p.m. at Reed Arena. A&M, the defending SEC Western Division champion, is coming off a 3-1 victory at Northern Colorado Sunday in Greeley, Colo., to close out non-conference play.
The Bulldogs are 8-2 entering their SEC opener at LSU on Friday. Georgia went 2-1 at the Kansas Invitational last weekend, with victories over both North Dakota State and Notre Dame.
- Camper Appreciation Day: anyone who attended a Texas A&M volleyball camp this past summer is admitted free by wearing their camp T-shirt
- Members of Junior Aggie Club get in free for all home matches
- Regular-price individual match tickets are $9 for reserve seating, $7 for adult general admission and $4 for youth, high school age and under. A&M students without a sports pass also can purchase tickets for $4 each. Tickets may be purchased at Reed Arena or in advance at 12thManFoundation.com.
- Season ticket prices start as low as $65 with three easy and convenient ways to purchase: 1) online, 24 hours a day at tickets.12thmanfoundation.com; 2) by phone by calling 979-845-2311 or toll free at 1-888-99-AGGIE; or 3) in person at the ticket office located inside the Zone at the north end of Kyle Field. Ticket office hours of operation are 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. on business days.
FOLLOW THE ACTION:
- Live video of A&M home matches will be available on AggieAthletics.com to 12th Man TV premium subscribers. Audio of all A&M home matches will be provided free with Chesea Reber and Casey Richardson calling the action.
- Live stats will be available on AggieAthletics.com
- Updates and other information can be found by following AggieVolleyball on Twitter.com
The Aggies hit the road next weekend for a pair of SEC matches, taking on third-ranked and defending SEC champion Florida, Friday, Oct. 4 at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, Fla., and South Carolina on Sunday, Oct. 6 at the Volleyball Competition Center in Columbia, S.C. First serve against the 2013 preseason SEC-favored Gators is at 6 p.m (CT), and the match will be televised live by Sun Sports. The match against the Gamecocks is slated for a 12:30 (CT) start.
Texas A&M concluded non-conference play going 1-1 at No. 22 Colorado State and Northern Colorado last weekend. The Rams, who improved to 10-0, handed A&M its first three-set loss, holding the Aggies to season lows in both kills (28) and hitting percentage (.061), while CSU’s .279 hitting percentage was the highest by an A&M opponent this season. Shelby Sullivan and Angela Lowak tied for team-high honors in kills with six. Allie Sawatzky led the A&M in digs with 11 and Jazzmin Babers had a team-high five blocks.
A&M then regrouped and had a come-from-behind 3-1 win at Northern Colorado on Sunday. Sierra Patrick, who missed the match at No. 22 Colorado State to attend a funeral, returned to the lineup and led the Aggies with 17 kills. Ashley Vrana came off the bench and tallied a career-high 12 kills, including the match-clinching kill, and Sullivan and Sawatzky finished with 10 kills each as A&M led the Bears in kills, 66-53. In addition, Sawatzky posted her third triple-double of the season as she also dished out 43 assists and pitched in 10 digs. Libero Kelsey Kinley led the Aggies with 18 digs, and Mariah Agre and Heather Reynolds also recorded double figures in digs with 11 and 10, respectively. Freshman Victoria Arenas contributed nine digs as A&M led UNC in digs, 76-63, for the match. Sullivan and Babers tied for team-high honors in blocks with five apiece.
TEXAS A&M TEAM NOTES:
- Texas A&M is 1-0 in SEC season openers. Last year in the Aggies’ conference debut, A&M defeated Ole Miss, 25-21, 25-23, 25-16, on Sept. 14 at Reed Arena. It marked A&M’s first SEC victory in any sport.
- The Aggies are receiving votes in the AVCA Top 25 poll and are listed 34th this week. The last time they were in the Top 25 was a No. 21 showing in the final poll of the 2009 season.
- A&M is 8-0 when leading its opponent in kills, 8-1 when leading in hitting percentage, and 7-0 when leading in aces.
- A&M entered the week ranked 13th in the nation with 14.55 kills per set and 14th in the country with 13.53 asists per set. It also is ranked 19th in the nation with 16.85 digs per set.
- With the exception of blocking, in which opponents hold a narrow 2.29 to 2.28 block-per-set advantage, Texas A&M leads its opponents in all positive statistical averages through the first 11 matches.
- All five of A&M’s front row players who have played in at least 85 percent (34 of 40) of total sets are averaging at least 2.50 points per set, including setter Allie Sawatzky, who is averaging 2.51 points per set. Four of the five are averaging at least 2.00 kills per set.
- A&M has used six different starting lineups in 11 matches. Only senior setter Allie Sawatzky and sophomore middle blockers Shelby Sullivan and Jazzmin Babers have started all 11 matches. Senior Kelsey Kinley has been the designated libero in every match.
- 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.
- In the season opener against South Dakota State, five of six A&M players were making the first start of their 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 (468 of 582), 93 percent or 25 of 27 of the team’s solo blocks and 110 of 128 (85.9 percent) of the team’s block assists. The underclassmen also are responsible for 574 of 731 (78.5 percent) of total points.
- Eleven of A&M’s 29 regular season 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. Colorado State and Northern Colorado, both reached the NCAA first round last year.
- Texas A&M head coach Laurie Corbelli returns two starters 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. 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 has recorded three triple doubles (kills, assists, digs) over the last six matches. In the championship match of the UTSA Classic, she had 10 kills (0 errors, 19 attempts, .526), 48 assists and a season-high 16 digs while leading the Aggies to the 3-1 victory against UTSA. She was named MVP at the Texas A&M Invitational after directing the Aggies to the championship title over No. 7 Michigan, No. 16 Florida State and Siena, posting her second triple-double of the season and leading all players with 16 kills with no errors in 28 attempts for a .571 hitting percentage in A&M’s final match against Michigan. She also added 38 assists and tied her season high with 16 digs against the Wolverines. Sawatzky enters the Georgia match after posting her third triple-double in six matches with 10 kills, 43 assists and 10 digs in a 3-1 victory at Northern Colorado.
- Sawatzky, who now has five triple-doubles for her career, has started every match (103) of her four-year career. The Canadian, who leads the Aggies and is second in the SEC with eight double-doubles this season, ranks fourth in the A&M records with 3,830 career assists. She needs 65 assists to surpass Yvonne Van Brandt (1886-89) and move into third place. Suzy Wente (1992-95) holds the all-time record with 5,511 career assists.
- Middle blocker Jazzmin Babers, the SEC Defensive Player of the Week on Sept. 16, ranks fifth in the SEC and leads the Aggies with 1.23 blocks per set. Against No. 7 Michigan, she had a career-high 11 blocks, the most blocks by an A&M freshman since Melissa Munsch collected 13 against Colorado on Oct. 24, 2001.
- Outside hitter Angela Lowak leads the Aggies and is 12th in the SEC with 3.81 points per set. She is second on the team and 12th in the league with 3.46 kills per set. Lowak has taken or tied for team-high honors in kills in a team-best five matches.
- Sophomore Sierra Patrick, who has seen action on both the right and left sides, leads A&M and is seventh in the SEC with 3.62 kills per set. She has posted 20 or more kills in a team-leading three matches this season. A two-time all-tournament selection, Patrick is second on the team and 14th in the SEC with 3.74 points per set.
- Senior libero Kelsey Kinley has posted double figures in digs in nine of 11 matches. She also has taken or tied for team-high honors in digs in nine contests and leads the team and is eighth in the SEC with with 3.95 digs per set. Her career-high 23 digs against UTSA is the most by an A&M player this year.
- Freshman defensive specialist Victoria Arenas has started each of the last four maches. She is one of four freshmen who has appeared in a starting lineup this season, including redshirt freshman middle blocker Jazzmin Babers, who has started every match. Outside hitter Emily Hardesty has started six matches and setter/opposite hitter Kaysie Shebeneck has started two 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.
- Shelby Sullivan leads the team and is fifth in the SEC with 0.38 aces per set. The sophomore middle blocker, who has 15 aces on the year, including a career-high five aces in a sweep against Lamar, is second among starters with 0.80 blocks per set, and she is third on the squad with 3.09 points per set.
- Senior setter/defensive specialist Mariah Agre has started five matches in the back row and appeared in all 11 matches, as well as 39 of 40 sets. She is second on the team and 10th in the SEC with 0.33 aces per set. She also is second on the team with 1.77 assists per set and is third on the team with 2.28 digs per set.
- Senior outside hitter Ashley Vrana has tallied career highs in kills in two of the last three matches in which she has appeared. She came off the bench in the sweep against Siena and led all players with a career-high 10 kills in two sets, and she also came off the bench at Northern Colorado and recorded 12 kills in four sets.
- Georgia is 10-2 entering its SEC opener at LSU on Friday. It marks the Bulldogs’ best start since 2007 and their best-ever start under third-year coach Lizzy Stemke. They are only four wins away from tying last year’s win total.
- The Bulldogs are coming off a 3-1 (25-18, 25-14, 17-25, 25-23) victory against Notre Dame on Sept. 21 at Kansas. The Bulldogs hit .331 in the match and outblocked the Irish, 12-5.
- Stacy Smith, who had a team-best 13 kills while hitting .550 against Notre Dame, and Elena Perri, who pitched in 10 kills while hitting .533, were both named to the all-tournament team at the Kansas Invitational last weekend.
- Senior outside hitter Brittany Northcutt enters the weekend needing only 24 kills to reach 1,000 for her career and become the 16th player in Georgia history to reach the milestone.
- Georgia ranks in the top four in the SEC in hitting percentage (.281), opponent hitting percentage (.159) and blocks (2.51) per set.
- Senior libero Allison Summers is third in the league with 4.56 digs per set.
- Georgia, which went 14-19 overall last year, including 8-12 in the SEC, was picked to finish fourth in the SEC Eastern Division before the league’s athletics directors passed a measure eliminating divisions in volleyball.
- Lizzy Stemke, a former All-American setter at Wisconsin, is 35-37 in her third season as head coach of the Bulldogs.
ALL-TIME SERIES RECORD:
- Texas A&M is 8-3 all-time against Georgia, including 2-1 in matches played in College Station.
- The Aggies have won the last three meetings.
- Georgia’s most recent victory over the Aggies was Oct. 28, 1994, as the 19th-ranked Bulldogs topped A&M, 15-11, 7-15, 15-7, 15-6, at G. Rollie White Coliseum.
- Last year, Texas A&M erased a 2-0 match deficit against the Bulldogs, rallying for a 15-25, 23-25, 25-20, 25-18, 15-10 win at the Ramsey Student Center in Athens in the teams’ first meeting as conference foes. While starting setter Allie Sawatzky narrowly missed a triple-double with nine kills, 49 assists and a career-high 20 digs, A&M also got key contributions from the bench, with Shelby Sullivan hitting .438 with eight kills and four blocks and Ashley Vrana adding a then-career-high seven kills in three sets played.
- A&M outhit Georgia, .240 to .216, and led in kills (67-61), blocks (13-10), digs (72-67) and aces (6-3).