Nov. 21, 2010

COLLEGE STATION, Texas - Texas A&M gave No. 16 Iowa State a scare, but the Cyclones fought back to defeat the Aggies, 25-23, 16-25, 25-17, 25-23, in front of 1,377 today at Reed Arena.

ISU narrowly escaped to take the first set, holding off a late A&M charge to win by the minimum two points. The Aggies then easily took the second set, but the Cyclones controlled the third set. A&M then appeared that it was going to force a fifth set after building a 19-9 lead in the fourth frame, but ISU went on a 6-0 run to get within 19-15 and regain the momentum. The Cyclones continued to cut into the lead but were still down, 23-19, following a kill by A&M's Kelsey Black. ISU then got two kills sandwiched between an A&M attack error to get within 23-22. A tool kill by ISU's Carly Jenson tied the score for the first time since 1-1, and Jenson then posted her 11th kill to give the Cyclones their first lead of the set and put ISU at match point. A&M then hit long to end the match.

"I have been trying to figure out what the answer is, how competitive we can be through a match," A&M coach Laurie Corbelli said. "We either blow out a team, or it is super tight and we have a shot at it. Those are the ones that we seem to lose our faith, our confidence, our belief. It may be the toughest thing I have ever come across as a coach with a particular team; why the unforced errors in a row, in bunches, right when we absolutely need to play."

Black led the Aggies with 14 kills and led all players with 23 digs. Tori Mellinger had 15 digs to give her 444 for the year and move her into sixth in the A&M season record books. Chelsea Ringel pitched in 14 digs, marking her sixth consecutive double-figure performance, and Lindsey Miller had a team-high seven blocks.

ISU's All-American outside hitter Victoria Henson, the Big 12 leader in kills per set, led all players with 16 kills. Kelsey Peterson added 14 kills while hitting .448 to lead the Cyclones to a .212 to .181 hitting advantage. All-American libero Ashley Mass and Henson tied for team high honors in digs with 15 apiece, and middle blocker Debbie Stadick led all players with nine blocks.

"Iowa State is no slouch," Corbelli said. "They really picked up their defense when they needed to at the end. Henson has some great middle digs there in the back. We had one-on-one and Kelsey hit as hard as she could and the ball came up, and that is unusual. Those kinds of plays give teams momentum and start to make the other team wonder what they need to do to get a kill, and I supposed that just added to our uncertainty. Whatever was going on our side, they certainly responded with some great defense."

In the opening set, A&M used a three-point run to go up 15-14 and take its first lead since 3-2, but the Cyclones scored four unanswered points to regain the lead at 18-15. A&M later tied the score at 23-all following a Black kill, a block by setter Allie Sawatzky and Miller and a hitting error by Henson. An A&M attack error ended the Aggies' rally and put the Cyclones at set point. Henson then clinched the set with her sixth kill.

A&M, which was outhit, .227 to .184 in the first set, hit .297 to ISU's .184 to take the second set and even the match. The Aggies used runs of five and four points to build a 10-5 lead. ISU cut the margin to 12-8 before kills by Miller, Black and Sawatzky put the Aggies up, 15-10. A&M continued to widen the gap and was up, 22-16, when Ringel got a kill and Jenson hit wide to put the Aggies at set point. Miller then stuffed a dump kill attempt by Cyclone setter Alison Landwehr to end the set and even the match.

The Cyclones took their first lead of the third set at 2-1 and continued to pull away. ISU held an 8-4 lead before going on a 6-1 run to build its largest lead of the set. The Aggies later scored three unanswered points, getting a kill from Alisia Kastmo and consecutive kills by Ringel to get within 21-16. ISU then countered with thee straight points to be serving for the set. An ISU attack error kept A&M alive, but A&M then served into the net to end the frame.

ISU earns the series sweep against the Aggies and improves to 19-7 overall and 12-6 in the Big 12 Conference. A&M drops to 13-15, 7-11 Big 12.

A&M wraps up the 2010 season with two matches this week, playing at No. 8 Texas on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. at Gregory Gym in Austin and then returning home to conclude the regular season against fifth-ranked and current Big 12 leader Nebraska on Saturday at 4 p.m. at Reed Arena. The Aggies upset the defending Big 12 champion Longhorns, 3-0, when the teams met earlier this season in a State Farm Lone Showdown at Reed Arena. It remains one of only two conference losses for Texas, which enters the weekend in second place in the Big 12 standings with a 15-2 record.

A&M's match against the Huskers, who also fell to A&M in their last appearance at Reed Arena, will be the final Big 12 match ever for Nebraska, which joins the Big Ten Conference next season.

It will be "ResLife Night" in the season finale against Nebraska, and A&M students who show their dorm key will get in free. In addition, the dorm with the most attendees will win a free pizza dinner.