Article Image

F.A.S.T. Tournament Recap

March 25, 2013
 | 
Courtesy: Texas A&M Athletics
(photo: Texas A&M Athletics)
The Texas A&M volleyball team opened its spring exhibition season by going 3-1 at the second annual F.A.S.T. Spring College Tournament on March 23 at the F.A.S.T. Complex in Houston.

The Aggies opened the tournament by defeating TCU, 25-21, 25-18. While experimenting with some different lineup combinations, A&M then held off Sam Houston State, 25-17, 20-25, 15-12, and followed with its third consecutive victory with a 25-22, 25-22 sweep against former Big 12 foe Baylor.

“I was really pleased with the consistency with which we played” A&M head coach Laurie Corbelli said. “I thought even though early in the tournament we had some rocky ways, especially in the TCU match, over the course of the day things evened out in terms of our defense and primarily our transition offense really started to smooth out and become a lot more consistent, which is something a young group really has to strive for early.”

In the final match of the day, A&M narrowly fell, 23-25, 25-23, 15-12, to Wichita State, a team that came within one win of advancing to the Final Four in 2012 and was No. 23 in the final rankings.

“They were a regional final team last year and they only graduated one outside hitter, so they were by far the best team we played,” Corbelli said. “They have a very, very quick offense, so our young block, even though we were physical, we are still learning where to be, when to be there, reading. But we fought back in that first set and ended up getting a win, 25-22, and battled point-for-point in sets two and three, so I was not disappointed at all.

“I really was purely looking at our execution and our adjustments and who was able to really produce against a really strong unit. Their players are very solid, and their system is really tough to beat, but I was really pleased. I thought we put a lot of pressure on them with our middles. They really made some really good adjustments on (setter Allie) Sawatzky when she started attacking them a lot on second ball. You could see their experience, and then it challenged her to make some different plays.”

Corbelli, who is entering her 21st season as head coach of the Aggies, returns only two starters – seniors-to-be Sawatzky and Heather Reynolds (outside hitter) – from the 2012 team that won the Southeastern Conference Western Division and finished 25-6 after advancing to the second round of the NCAA Championship.

Corbelli is looking to fill positions vacated by last year’s senior starters: AVCA Honorable Mention All-Americans Alisia Kastmo (opposite hitter) and Lindsey Miller, a middle blocker who started every match during her four-year career, Tori Mellinger (outside hitter) and Stephanie Minnerly (middle blocker), as well as Megan Pendergast, who was the designated libero in every match last season.

Competing for those spots are four experienced upperclassmen in outside hitter Ashley Vrana, setter Mariah Agre and defensive specialists Kelsey Kinley and Hannah Hood. In addition, last year’s touted freshmen – middle blockers Jazzmin Babers, Darby Graff and Shelby Sullivan, and outside hitters Angela Lowak, and Sierra Patrick and Shelbi Vaughn, both two-sport athletes who are also competing in track and field this spring, as well as early high school graduate Victoria Arenas, a libero who graduated high school early and enrolled at A&M in January – will be grooming to vie for the positions as they go through their first spring training season.

“We are a totally different looking team,” Corbelli said, “but No. 1, I think our blocking is a little more natural for some of the players just given their talents. So our blocking stood out maybe more than any other team we have had in the past decade. Maybe on the other hand our defense is not quite as sharp as it has been although last season our five seniors had a lot of experience with ball control, defensive positioning, and not only their individual defense but team defense. That is something that takes some time to really smooth out. Individually, we are getting better and better defensively. Just our team defense, which is anticipating opponent’s attacks and getting used to playing next to each other at that level, is still something that showed up as young and inexperienced. But overall, I saw it improve as the day went on.

“Obviously we don’t like the losing part, but in the end I have to not look at that in the spring I look at our execution, our adjustments and overall feel during the day. We had set three main goals of what we were really determined to achieve. We met afterwards and determined that we had met all three goals very satisfactorily.”

The Aggies return to action Saturday, April 6, as they host an all-day tournament at G. Rollie Coliseum. The Aggies will welcome Rice, Stephen F. Austin, Texas State and UTSA to College Station for what likely will be the last athletic competition to be held at the “Holler House” before its impending demolition.

Genny (Wood) Volpe, who played for the Aggies from 1990-93, and Laura (Neugebauer) Groff, who was an assistant coach at A&M in 1991 and 1992 and also frequented G. Rollie during her playing days at Texas, will be in attendance as the head coaches at Rice and UTSA, respectively.

“It will be a fun day of non-stop volleyball with some of the best players in Texas,” Corbelli said. “It also will be a chance for us to reminisce and say goodbye to G. Rollie. It served us well for many, many years and for many great victories, and I know that many of my former players are really sad that G. Rollie is going away.”

The Aggies conclude their exhibition season Saturday, April 20 at the Lone Star Classic College Showcase at the Dallas Convention Center Arena.

2013 Texas A&M Volleyball Spring Schedule:

Date

Tournament

Venue

Location

March 23

F.A.S.T. Spring College Tournament

F.A.S.T. Complex

Houston

April 6

Texas A&M Spring Invitational

G. Rollie White Coliseum

College Station

April 20

Lone Star Classic College Showcase

Dallas Convention Center

Dallas

Sullivan, Aiple, Babers named Honorable Mention All-America
SEC Network
Texas A&M
The Parking Spot
Raising Canes
C.C. Creations
Case
Pepsi
Suddenlink
stop
Uploaded Ad