All 15 eligible players on the A&M roster saw action, with every front row player registering at least one kill. Angela Lowak led the Aggie attack for the second consecutive match and was the only player on either team to post double figures in kills with 11. The junior outside hitter also led A&M in digs with nine. Junior middle blocker Shelby Sullivan had a match-high six blocks, and sophomore setter Kaysie Shebeneck dished out 26 assists for the Aggies.
As a team, A&M outhit the Green Wave .351 to 0.30, posting 45 kills to Tulane’s 25. A&M also outblocked the Green Wave, 9-4, and led in digs, 47-41.
A&M never trailed in the opening set and used a 6-0 run to pull out to an 8-2 lead. Tulane, which was outhit, .407 to .032, in the set, could not get closer than five points and was trailing 10-5 when Lowak posted back-to-back kills, with Shebeneck giving A&M its third straight point and a 13-5 advantage with a dump kill. The Aggies continued to use spurts of points to pull away and later took advantage of four consecutive Tulane errors to go up 24-10. Tulane staved off one set point before Lowak put down her fifth kill to clinch the set.
Several A&M players made their first appearance of the season in the second set, including freshman defensive specialist Amy Nettles and senior outside hitter Sydney Wilhelm, who were making their career debut in the maroon and white. The score was knotted at 6-6 when A&M went on an 8-2 run to take a 14-8 lead. A&M then committed three consecutive errors to allow Tulane to cut the margin to 14-11. The Green Wave could get no closer, as it committed three consecutive miscues. With A&M leading 17-12, Wilhelm got a kill on the overpass, Lowak posted a kill from the back row, and Sullivan got a kill on the slide attack and then teamed with Wilhelm for a block to put the Aggies up, 21-12.
A&M, which outhit Tulane, .316 to .057 in the set, would be at set point, 24-16, following Shebeneck’s kill of the second ball. Tulane got a block on the ensuing play before sophomore middle blocker Darby Graff closed out the set with a kill.
A&M held a narrow 7-6 lead in the third stanza when the Aggies went on an 8-1 run, with freshman Olivia Thorpe posting the first kill of her career during the stretch. A&M later held a 17-10 advantage when Kiara McGee blasted a ball through the block for her first career kill. The kill began an Aggie 5-0 run that included another kill and a block by the freshman from San Antonio.
Tulane ended the run with back-to-back kills, but then served into the net. Freshman opposite hitter Ashlie Reasor posted her third kill of the set to put A&M at match point, but the Aggies then served into the net. Tulane followed with a kill to get within 24-14 before Reasor put down her eighth kill of the match to clinch the victory for the Aggies.
Annie Shurtz led Tulane with nine kills for the match.
A&M will be aiming for the tournament title on Saturday as the Aggies take on the UTSA Roadrunners at 3 p.m. in the tournament finale. Video streaming of the match, with Casey Richardson and Chelsea Reber calling the action, will be available on SEC Network +, available only on WatchESPN through participating cable and satellite providers.
Visit 12thMan.com for more information on Texas A&M volleyball. Aggie fans also can keep up to date with the A&M volleyball team on Facebook and on Twitter by following @AggieVolleyball.
Texas A&M Head Coach Laurie Corbelli post-match quotes:
“I am very impressed with the way this young team has come to play on day one of our season. I’ve put in everybody that I’ve got on my roster that is eligible to play. They have been on the court, and they’ve executed play, especially some freshman. Ashlie Reasor had a phenomenal match, not only offensively but with her blocking and her defense. And I was happy to get to play Amy Nettles, our little defensive player. She’s got a great future here in our program defensively. I thought Hannah Hood had a phenomenal match. She served beautifully, passed, played defense and is really a great leader on the floor. I was really proud of her for her execution.”
On there being no drop off in the team’s play despite so many substitutions…
“That’s another thing I was really impressed with is often when you sub a lot or put other people on the court, it changes the dynamic of the team and things start going a little bit chaotic. It just depends on who it is or where it is. It’s happened quite a bit in the past for us. This group made a pact early on in two-a-days that they were not going to let that happen. We kept talking in our timeouts about how important it was that everybody welcomed the newbies on the court and said, ‘this is what we’re doing, this is where you need to be.’ Great communication, great intensity and no one was really timid. No one really backed off. They had the mindset of attack, and it was great.”
On tomorrow’s match against UTSA…
“That’s a team that we really battle with, and we’re going to have to really be sharp and not make many errors. They do not make many errors. They are well coached. They will have had today as well to get two matches under their belt and get a rhythm, so I am anticipating that it’s going to be quite the battle. We’re really looking forward to it. “
Friday, August 29
Texas A&M def. Iowa, 3-0 (25-17, 25-17, 25-21)
UTSA def. Tulane, 3-1 (21-25, 25-17, 25-13, 25-20)
Texas A&M def. Tulane, 3-0 (25-11, 25-17, 25-14)
Iowa vs. UTSA (in progress)
Saturday, August 30
12:30 p.m. Tulane vs. Iowa
3:00 p.m. Texas A&M vs. Tulane