Texas A&M and LSU are each aiming to snap two-match losing skids. The Aggies dropped to 9-5 overall and 1-2 in SEC matches after falling at No. 3 Florida, 3-0, and at South Carolina, 3-1 last weekend in A&M’s first SEC road trip of the season. LSU is 10-3 overall and 0-1 in SEC matches after suffering a 3-2 home loss against Georgia in its SEC opener on Sept. 27 and falling, 3-0, in a non-conference match against No. 4 Texas, Saturday in Baton Rouge, La.
Texas A&M and LSU were co-favorites to win the SEC Western Division according to the coaches’ preseason poll, which was conducted before the conference athletics directors passed a measure to no longer recognize division champions in sports other than football and baseball. Last year, in A&M’s inaugural season in the SEC, the Aggies defeated LSU, 3-1, in Baton Rouge and went on to win the SEC Western Division, snapping the Tigers’ streak of seven consecutive division championships.
FOLLOW THE ACTION:
· The match will be televised nationally on ESPNU with Adam Amin calling the play-by-play and Maria Taylor providing color commentary. The match also can be seen on WatchESPN.com
· Free audio will be provided on AggieAthletics.com with Chelsea 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
· It will be “Fish Camp Night” and members of the Class of 2017 will be admitted free by wearing their Fish Camp T-shirt
· Members of Junior Aggie Club get in free for all home matches
Texas A&M returns to Reed Arena on Friday to play host to the Mississippi State Bulldogs. First serve is slated for 6 p.m. In conjunction with Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the match will be A&M’s annual “Dig Pink” match and anyone wearing pink can purchase a ticket for only $3.
Texas A&M setter Allie Sawatzky posted her fourth triple-double of the season and middle blockers Shelby Sullivan and Jazzmin Babers both tied their career highs in kills, but it wasn’t enough as the Aggies fell to South Carolina, 25-23, 25-20, 20-25, 25-23, Sunday in Columbia.
Sullivan led A&M with 13 kills while hitting a career-high .632. Angela Lowak added 11 kills, and Babers, who hit at a career-high .474 clip, and Sawatzky finished with 10 kills each. Freshman Emily Hardesty came off the bench and tied her career high with seven kills.
Sawatzky also dished out 40 assists and tied Mariah Agre with a team-high 10 digs. Babers and Sullivan tied for team-high honors in blocks with four apiece as A&M outblocked South Carolina, 9-8.
Although A&M outhit South Carolina .315 to .312 for the match, the Gamecocks’ hitting percentage was the highest by an A&M opponent this season, as were their 71 kills. A&M, which entered the match having swept the Gamecocks in each of the four previous meetings in the all-time series, finished with 59 total kills.
TEXAS A&M TEAM NOTES
· Texas A&M entered the week ranked 16th in the nation with 14.44 kills per set and 20th in the country with 13.36 assists per set. In addition, the Aggies are 28th in the nation with 16.50 digs per set.
· Five starters are averaging at least 2.50 points per set: Sierra Patrick (3.73 pps); Angela Lowak (3.53 pps); Shelby Sullivan (3.16 pps); Jazzmin Babers (2.71 pps); and Allie Sawatzky (2.50 pps).
· A&M is 9-0 when leading its opponent in kills and 8-0 when leading in aces. The Aggies also are 7-0 when winning the second set.
· 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.
· A&M has used seven different starting lineups in 14 matches. Only senior setter Allie Sawatzky, sophomore middle blocker Shelby Sullivan and redshirt freshman Jazzmin Babers have started all 14 matches. 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 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 (580 of 722), 94 percent or 30 of 32 of the team’s solo blocks and 142 of 164 (86.6 percent) of the team’s block assists. The underclassmen also are responsible for 710 of 900 (78.9 percent) of A&M’s total points.
· 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.
· 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 leads the SEC with four triple doubles. Arkansas setter Raymariely Santos has one triple-double and is the only other SEC player to register a triple-double this season.
· Sawatzky, a 6-2 lefty, has recorded 10 or more kills six times over the last nine matches and is hitting a combined .477 when posting 10 or more kills [67 kills, 6 errors, 128 attempts]. She is hitting .311 for the season, ranking second on the team and 17th in the SEC. In addition, she is averaging 2.06 kills per set while also averaging 9.78 assists.
· Sawatzky has started every match of her career (106). She had 40 assists against South Carolina on Sunday, 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.
· Middle blockers Shelby Sullivan and Jazzmin Babers both tied their career highs in kills against South Carolina with 13 and 10, respectively, and they each also set career highs in hitting percentage, as Sullivan hit .632 and Babers hit .474. It was the first time this season that both middle blockers posted double figure-kills in the same match.
· Babers is third in the SEC and 47th in the nation with 1.26 blocks per set for the full season. The 6-2 redshirt freshman 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). That 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. 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.
· Sophomore Sierra Patrick has posted double-figure kills in five of her last six matches and in a team-leading nine matches overall. Patrick, who missed the Colorado State match to attend a funeral, is eighth in the SEC with 3.49 kills per set and 13th with 3.73 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 also is listed in the SEC full-season stats, ranking No. 15 in both kills (3.20) and points (3.53) per set.
· Senior libero Kelsey Kinley ranks seventh in the SEC with 3.98 digs per set. The College Station native has tallied 10 or more digs in 11 of 14 matches, including a career-high and team season-high 23 in a 3-1 victory at UTSA.
· Freshman opposite hitter Kaysie Shebeneck has started five of the last six matches. She is one of four freshmen who have 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 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.
· Senior setter/defensive specialist Mariah Agre leads A&M and is eighth in the SEC with 0.33 aces per set. She also is second on the team with 1.55 assists per set and is third on the team with 2.24 digs per set.
· LSU (10-3, 0-1 SEC) was picked to win the SEC Western Division, along with A&M. It is the ninth straight year the Tigers have been the division preseason favorite.
· The Tigers have lost two consecutive matches for the first time this season after falling, 3-0 (25-12, 25-18, 25-17) to reigning national champion and fourth-ranked Texas on Saturday. Briana Holman had eight kills to lead the Tigers, who were outhit, .347 to .127.
· LSU’s only conference match was a 3-2 (24-26, 25-21, 16-25, 27-25, 15-9) home loss to Georgia despite leading the Bulldogs in kills (69-60), assists (60-53), aces (4-1), digs (101-97) and blocks (15.5-12). Georgia, which lost to A&M, 3-0, two days later, outhit the Tigers, .162 to .155.
· LSU leads the SEC and is 10th in the nation with 2.84 blocks per set. Individually, freshman Briana Holman leads the league and is No. 2 in the country with 1.54 blocks per set for the full season.
· Sophomore outside hitter Cati Leak leads the Tigers and is seventh in the SEC with 3.50 kills per set for the full season.
· As a team, LSU is outhitting its opponents, .224 to .179, but opponents lead in kills per set, 13.31 to 12.98.
· Head coach Fran Flory (Texas ‘84) is 289-176 in her 16th season at the helm of the Tigers. She served as an assistant coach at Texas A&M in 1987 under former Aggie head coach Al Givens
ALL-TIME SERIES RECORDS
· Texas A&M is 23-13 overall against LSU but only 6-5 in matches played in College Station.
· Last year, in A&M’s inaugural season in the SEC, the Aggies defeated LSU, 3-1, in Baton Rouge, La.
· LSU went home victorious in its most recent trip to College Station, defeating A&M, 25-9, 25-17, 25-22 on Aug. 28, 2010, at Reed Arena.
· Four of the last seven matches have been decided in five sets.