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A&M Advances With Victory Over Lipscomb

December 01, 2011
Courtesy: Texas A&M Athletics
(photo: Texas A&M Athletics)
COLLEGE STATION, Texas - No. 16 seed Texas A&M improved to 15-0 all-time in home NCAA tournament matches, and Aggie head coach Laurie Corbelli picked up her 499th head-coaching career win and her 399th victory at A&M as the Aggies defeated Lipscomb, 25-16, 25-16, 12-25, 25-22, in the NCAA Championship first round played tonight at Reed Arena.

Corbelli will get her first shot at the milestone 500th victory Friday, as the Aggies face future Southeastern Conference foe Kentucky at 6:30 p.m. at Reed in second-round action. The Wildcats advanced by defeating Dayton, 25-20, 16-25, 22-25, 25-15, 16-14.

The first 500 college students will be admitted free to the A&M-Kentucky match, courtesy of Texas A&M Apple Campus Store, MacResource Computers. Students must show a valid college ID at the north student entrance to receive free admission. Tickets are for general admission seating only.

A&M (23-7) used a 4-0 run to break a 7-7 tie and begin to pull away in the opening set against the Lady Bisons, who were making their third consecutive NCAA appearance. A&M maintained an 18-14 advantage before the Aggies reeled off six consecutive points, including a block by Elise Hendrickson and Kelsey Black that put A&M at set point. Lipscomb, which was outhit .267 to .029, fought off two set points before Black tooled the block for her fourth kill of the set to close out the frame.

There were nine ties and five lead changes early in the second set before A&M once again took command. A&M used a 3-0 run to regain the lead at 13-12 but Lipscomb tied the score for the final time on a kill by Abby Fay on the next play. The Lady Bisons were then whistled for four hits, a play that marked the start of an 11-1 rally for the Aggies. Lipscomb's Jewell Dobson had a kill to end a run of eight consecutive points for the Aggies, but Lindsey Miller countered with a kill to put the Aggies at set point. Dobson put down another kill before Tori Mellinger tallied the set-clinching kill.

A&M was flat coming out of the intermission, and the scrappy, determined Lady Bisons took advantage of the opportunity. The Aggies spotted Lipscomb the first three points of the set, and the Lady Bisons led the rest of the stanza, outhitting A&M, .312 to -.029, in the 25-12 rout.

The fourth set was tied at 13 when A&M scored four unanswered points to take a 17-13 lead. Lipscomb came back, however, and tied the score for the fifth time in the frame at 21-21. Mellinger broke the tie with a kill and then teamed with Hendrickson for a block to put A&M up, 23-21. Lipscomb's next attack sailed wide, putting A&M at match point. Lipscomb fought off one match point with a block before Alisia Kastmo clinched the win for A&M with a kill.

A&M outhit Lipscomb, .162 to .122, for the match and led in digs (75-67) and blocks (11-7). Lipscomb led in kills (46-45) and aces (5-4).

Black led A&M with 11 kills and completed a double-double with 11 digs. Mellinger led all players with a season-high 20 digs, and libero Megan Pendergast added 17. Setter Allie Sawatzky also posted a double-double with 32 assists and 11 digs.

Dobson led the Lady Bisons with 13 kills, and Lauren Ford added 10. Lipscomb ends the season 20-11.

Postmatch Quotes:

Laurie Corbelli, Texas A&M Head Coach:
Opening statement
We feel really fortunate to have gotten our first win in the tournament, in the first round. Half the teams that tried to do it lost. And we're one that got the win. We were fortunate, especially against a team that played so hard like gangbusters against us. I think that it's a style that we're not super familiar with. It caught us off guard in set three.

On having to win in late sets
We've had to do that quite often this season, being down two sets to one or two sets to none. They have a lot of confidence when we're down, a lot of resilience. It's a good thing because when we start letting other teams score points, they start coming at us lie gangbusters. It's attribute to their maturity, resilience and their confidence to try to get a win.

Were you pleased with the way your team played?
Yeah, I think for the most part I was. I think that we were a little bit nervous, but we settled in pretty well, most players. We talked about it before the match that it was going to take us some time to get us into our rhythm, with the excitement of the NCAAs, the new style of the team, to expect us to take some time to get into our rhythm. But I think we did a good job of doing that later in the match.

Elaborate on Lipscomb's style of offense
Well you saw them run a very quick play behind the setter. They're very fast in front, hit a ton of angles, harsh angles, and their serving is incredibly efficient. It's a low, flat, knuckle ball-type serve that drops in front of you. It took us a while to get used to it, and when they came up in set three, it appeared that they had to ream serves at us to get us out of our offense in that third set.

On playing Kentucky
They have a really crafty setter. She does a really nice job with her distribution. Their outsides are very smart attackers. I think they are really balanced offensively. They have a lot of size. I think they're going to be a really tough team to play against. I think it's more of Big 12 style, what we're used to. But they're really good, just like Big 12 teams. We're looking forward to playing them. 

Junior Outside Hitter Tori Mellinger
I think that they caught us off guard. In the first two sets they came at us hard, and we bounced back but couldn't find our rhythm coming back from intermission. In the third set it looked like they sped things up even more and caught our block and our defense off guard. We were on our heels instead of on our toes.

Junior Middle Blocker Lindsey Miller
On the coming back to win late in games
Just as Laurie said, we've had to come back late in games because sometimes our rhythm gets thrown off. But even if we get out of our rhythm we know how to find it again. I think it's a testament to us as a team.

Lipscomb Head Coach Brandon Rosenthal:
Opening statement
I'm proud of our team, and you know for a program that nine years ago was just trying to break into the top-200 and here we are, I couldn't be more proud of a group. This is our fourth trip into the NCAA tournament and each and every year we have continued to take it one step further. I asked our girls to lay it on the line. Texas A&M put up a great battle for us and we knew they would, the atmosphere was tremendous with the fans. And this was just another page in hopefully a long story and history to come.

Talk about the things that A&M did to catch you off guard at first
I think the first two sets we didn't do a great job probably midway through to the end of the sets of running faster pace sets. Our passing got out of whack and really just kind of didn't finish plays. We compounded our errors. And a lot of that is due to A&M's height what they're able to do at the net. As far as Allie's setting, she really kind of held us at bay. But when we kind of got into our rhythm, we found ease at running on pace and running our defense.

On A&M's blocking
I think that one of the stats that kind of stands out to me was the block numbers; A&M was killing us. That's something that sitting here at the stats now, talking about team blocks, A&M went 11 and us 7. I'm proud of girls to really just lay it out on the line.

Junior Outside Hitter Kaycee Green
On A&M's size and what they brought that surprised you
Well, our speed, we had to pick it up. With A&M, their height kind of got to us because they're one of the bigger teams we've played. But I think that was one of the only things that worked against us.

Senior Middle Blocker Katie Rose
Was it difficult to play here in front of a big crowd?
I don't really think so; we've played with big crowds before. I actually enjoy the crowds. I think it makes it more lively and exciting for everyone. So, I don't think we were intimidated, if anything I think it gets us more excited.

I think we let them control the match. We run a different offense than they do, and when we let up, they used their height as a factor. But when we played our game it showed, when they played theirs, it showed.

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