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Texas Downs A&M, 3-0, in Final Big 12 Meeting

November 23, 2011
Courtesy: Texas A&M Athletics
(photo: Texas A&M Athletics)
COLLEGE STATION, Texas - No. 5 Texas lived up to its ranking and stayed in prime position to win the Big 12 Conference title outright, topping Texas A&M, 25-22, 25-19, 25-20, in a State Farm Lone Star Showdown at Reed Arena.

"I thought the Aggies fought hard and left it all out on the floor, which is what we challenge them to do for every match," A&M coach Laurie Corbelli said. "We played almost as well as we can play for the most part. It's a very tough team to go against when they are as physical as they are. Hats off to their performance today, they've improved a ton in the past month, and I think we have too. But their size was really tough to continue to deal with in every rotation."

An A&M all-time record home crowd of 4,606 was in attendance to help send off the five Aggie seniors in their final home match, as well as to witness the final Big 12 meeting between the two archrivals. The attendance bested the previous record of 3,856 set against Texas on Oct. 28, 2009, in the Aggies' first year to play at Reed.

"It was incredible," Corbelli said when asked about the crowd. "It was a huge lift that they'd come out. I thought it was a nice touch to have the noise and the band and the 12th Man standing the whole time. "

"There's nothing like scoring and have the place roar," added senior Kelsey Black, who led the Aggies with 14 kills. "It's something that schools don't get for women's volleyball anywhere in the country. It goes back to the type of people we have here."

Texas (20-4, 13-1 Big 12) held its biggest lead of the first set at 19-14, forcing A&M to call a timeout. The Aggies then went on a 6-1 run that included two aces by Black and two kills by Lindsey Miller to tie the score for the first time since 4-4. A service error kept the Longhorns in the lead, but Miller came back with her fourth kill of the set to tie the score for the sixth and final time. A&M hit wide and then got blocked, and Texas freshman star Haley Eckerman added a kill to put the Longhorns at set point. Tori Mellinger put down a kill for A&M before All-American Rachael Adams recorded the set-winning kill.

Texas, which hit above .300 in every set and finished the match with a .333 hitting percentage, scored the first four points of the second set and led for the remainder of the frame. The Longhorns built their largest lead at 11-4 and were leading 16-11 when A&M mounted a comeback. The Aggies used a 4-1 surge, getting two kills from senior Chelsea Ringel, to get within 17-15. It would be the closest the Aggies would get, as Texas countered with its own 5-1 run to go up 22-16. With Texas leading 23-19, Eckerman put down a kill to put the Longhorns at set point, and Madelyn Hutson followed with a kill down the block to close out the set and put the Horns up, 2-0, in the match.

A&M used a 4-0 run to go up 4-2 in the third set and take its first lead of the match since early in the first set.  The Aggies were leading 6-3 when Texas scored four unanswered points to take the lead. A&M tied the score at 7-7 on a kill by Black, but Texas then went on a 6-2 run to go up 13-9. A tip kill by Alisia Kastmo sparked a 3-0 run for the Aggies. Senior defensive specialist Cinthya Roberto, who subbed in and was making her first court appearance since the last time the two teams met in Austin, followed Kastmo's kill with an ace, and a Texas attack error put the Aggies within a point at 13-12. The Longhorns, however, reeled off seven of the next eight points to build a 20-13 lead. A&M got within 23-19 before Sha'Dare McNeal put the Horns at set point with a kill. Kastmo kept A&M alive with her fourth kill of the set before Eckerman clinch the victory for the Horns with a kill.

"We had an occasional run of points in every set," Corbelli said. "We're used to putting three or two together, but that was difficult today. Sometimes we have serving or passing breakdowns, but today none of those broke down and that's a good sign. We were focused and prepared. We didn't beat ourselves today; we made them beat us."

Black led A&M with 14 kills and tied for team-high honors with 10 digs. Miller added 11 kills while hitting .333. Libero Megan Pendergast had 10 digs for A&M and senior defensive specialist Sarah Grace added nine.

In addition to Eckerman's 18 kills, Texas, which outhit A&M, .333 to .191 and outblocked the Aggies, 9-3, got 11 kills from Bailey Webster. Hutson led all players with six blocks.

The Aggies honored their five seniors - Black, Ringel, Roberto, Grace and middle blocker Elise Hendrickson in their final home match following the contest against the Horns.

The Aggies (21-7, 10-5 Big 12), who finish their home season 10-2, close out the regular season at No. 14 Iowa State (22-4, 13-2 Big 12) on Nov. 26. The match begins at 6:30 p.m. at Hilton Coliseum in Ames, Iowa.

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