"It is such a nice feeling to get the win in Waco," A&M coach Laurie Corbelli said. "It is never easy to come here and start strong, and we didn't do it again. But this time we were able to get reorganized, gather our thoughts and remember the game plan. And we had to get a little more fired up to play harder, I hate to say, and then it started to work for us."
Alisia Kastmo had a match-high 16 kills, and Tori Mellinger and Lindsey Miller added 14 and 10, respectively, and all three hit above .365, to lead the Aggies. Defensively libero Megan Pendergast had a career-high and match-high 24 digs and Kelsey Black had 21, while Miller dominated at the net with seven blocks.
"Our defense has been improving by the match," Corbelli said. "Pendergast has done a great job at libero. With Mellinger and Black in the middle back, they are great readers on defense who have great anticipation. When our block is doing its job, it allows our floor diggers to relax a little more and make the great plays."
Baylor scored three consecutive points to build a 10-6 lead in the opening set. A&M chipped away at the lead and later went on a 3-0 run of its own to go up 18-17, taking its first lead since scoring the first point of the match. A&M held a narrow 21-20 edge before Baylor reeled off five unanswered points to close out the frame.
Baylor, which entered the match 9-2 in home contests, outhit A&M .311 to .237, and led in kills (20-12), digs (21-16) and blocks (2-0).
"Early, even though our serving was good, we really didn't have our attack rhythm," Corbeli said. "Our blocking was very average. Everything was pretty average. Once we started passing with a little more intention and getting more tempo in our offense, our hitters got in better rhythm, made better approaches and made shots that they knew were going to go down. And our block got tougher. Lindsey Miller really turned on her blocking. We quit making silly attack errors. Mellinger had the night of her life with 14 kills and three errors. She is so capable of that all of the time. She just did a tremendous job, and I was so happy for her. Individuals stepped up, some individuals stepped up a lot, but everybody stepped up their game to some extent to help us get the win."
There were eight ties and five lead changes in the second set. A&M spotted the Bears a 3-0 lead to start the set but then answered with four straight to take a 4-3 lead. The lead continued to change hands with neither team building more than a two-point lead before the halfway mark of the set. The score was knotted at 13-all when Mellinger punched in an off-speed kill and Hendrickson punished the Bears for an overpass to put the Aggies up, 15-13. The Aggies continued to pull away, building their biggest lead at 22-16. Baylor scored two consecutive points before Mellinger tooled the block on consecutive plays to put the Aggies at set point. Baylor got two kills before Miller was credited with a kill when the Bears had a miscommunication on defense and allowed the ball to fall to the floor.
The Bears held an 18-16 lead in the third set when Kastmo got a solo block and then teamed with Elise Hendrickson for anther block to tie the score. Baylor then hit into the net to give A&M a lead it would not lose. Black followed with a solo block to cap the Aggies' 4-0 run. The teams traded points and A&M maintained a 21-20 lead when Kastmo put down her fifth kill of the set and Black and Miller followed with a block. Miller put the Aggies at set point with a tip kill on the slide attack. Baylor fought off one set point with a kill before Miller came back with another kill on the slide.
A&M was in total command in the fourth set, using a six-point surge to double up the Bears, 12-6. A&M, which outhit the Bears, .395 to .111 in the set, would use another 6-0 run to build a 19-8 lead. The Aggies were up 22-13 when Allie Sawatzky, who had 46 assists in the match, posted her fifth kill, and Mellinger and Miller followed with back-to-back kills to close out the set and clinch the match.
A&M outhit Baylor, .291 to .183 for the match, and led in kills (61-55), assists (58-48), aces (5-2), digs (82-67) and blocks (11-5).
"We have a good plan and we have great athletes, and this time of the year as we start winding down the Big 12 and battling for the top three spots, we have to really remember this match and how we made that change successfully," Corbelli added.
A&M improves to 19-6 overall and 8-4 in the Big 12 to remain in third place in the league standings. Baylor drops to 17-11, 4-8 in the Big 12.
A&M hosts Missouri at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 12, in the next to last home match of the season.
"Missouri's matches, most of their sets are being won or lost by two or three points," Corbelli said. "We know it is going to be a barn-burner and that every point will be precious. We are happy to be at home. We are happy to have the turnaround in this match where we had to up our level of play and we were able to. That is going to propel us into the Missouri match with a lot of confidence and momentum."
It will be "Aggie Mom's Club Appreciation Day" and any Aggie Mom's Club member can receive a free ticket to the match by going to the Will Call window. In addition, Aggie Athletes Involved (AAI), a group of Texas A&M student-athletes who participate in many community activities, will be hosting its annual Coat Drive that benefits the local Twin City Mission in Bryan, and anyone bringing a new or gently used jacket, sweater or blanket will receive a free ticket to the match. The collection location at the main entrance will be manned from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m.
A&M has only one home match and three matches overall remaining after the Missouri match, including the home finale against rival Texas in a State Farm Lone Star Showdown match on Wednesday, Nov. 23. A&M's five seniors -- Kelsey Black, Sarah Grace, Elise Hendrickson, Chelsea Ringel and Cinthya Roberto -- will be honored before the match against the Longhorns.
Follow @AggieVolleyball on Twitter.