Sophomore middle blocker Shelby Sullivan paced the Aggies with a match-high 15 kills -- one shy of her career high – while hitting .609. She also added a match-high six blocks as the Aggies outhit LSU, .274 to .178, and avenged the Tigers’ 3-2 come-from-behind win in College Station earlier in the season.
Freshman outside hitter Emily Hardesty pitched in a career-high nine kills for A&M, and sophomore outside hitter Angela Lowak and senior setter Allie Sawatzky added eight and seven kills, respectively, as the Aggies improved to 14-10 overall and 6-7 in Southeastern Conference matches. Senior libero Heather Reynolds had a match-high 15 digs, and Sawatzky added 10 digs along with 32 assists to post her conference-leading 16th double-double of the season.
Freshman middle blocker Briana Holman had a team-best 11 kills for the Tigers, who fall to 15-9 overall and 5-7 in the SEC.
In the opening set, Lowak had a hard cross-court kill and followed with a shot down the line to give the Aggies their first lead at 6-5. A&M would hold a lead for the remainder of the set, building its largest margin at 14-9 following a 4-0 run that included kills from Sierra Patrick, Sullivan and Hardesty. A&M, which outhit LSU .256 to .024 in the frame, later equaled its largest lead at 19-14 following a Lowak kill, but LSU came back with three consecutive points to get within 19-17, forcing A&M to call a timeout. The teams then traded sideouts until a Sullivan kill off the block and an LSU attack into the net put the Aggies at set point, 24-21. Khourtni Fears kept the Tigers alive with a kill before Sawatzky teamed with redshirt freshman middle Jazzmin Babers for a set-clinching block.
LSU held a 14-13 edge in the second set before A&M reeled off five unanswered points. Sullivan began the rally, blasting a kill from the pin, and Lowak added two kills, one down the line and the other through the seam in the block. Leading 22-20, Sullivan and Hardesty had back-to-back kills through the block to put A&M at set point. LSU, which was outhit .256 to .170, fought off two set points with consecutive kills before Hardesty closed out the frame with her fourth kill of the set.
There were 17 ties and six lead changes in the third set. The Tigers used a three-point spurt to build their largest lead at 17-15 before Sullivan led the Aggies on an 8-1 run, posting four kills and a solo block to help A&M take its largest lead, 23-18. LSU, which was outhit .467 to .414 in the frame, scored three straight to get within 23-21 but then served into the net to put A&M at match point. LSU got a cross-court kill before Lowak closed out the victory with a kill.
A&M returns home this weekend for two of its final three home matches of the regular season. On Friday, the Aggies play host to Tennessee at 4 p.m. at Reed Arena. It will be “Ring Day,” and anyone wearing an Aggie ring will be admitted free. The match is part of a doubleheader with the men’s basketball team, and fans with a volleyball ticket will be admitted free to the 8 p.m. game against Rice.
On Sunday, A&M takes on Auburn at 1:30 p.m. at Reed, and 350 pizza rolls will be given away to fans following the match.
Visit AggieAthletics.com for more information on Texas A&M volleyball. Aggie fans also can keep up to date with the A&M volleyball team on Facebook and on Twitter by following @AggieVolleyball.
Texas A&M Quotes:
Head Coach Laurie Corbelli:
(On the win)
“We couldn’t be happier about the outcome. The team just really prepared hard and focused on the little sections of the game and did a great job of preparing themselves. We were in the same situation last time we played them, up two sets, and we let the team know that it is your choice what you want to happen now. It really wasn’t about LSU or anything other than us. They just put it in their own hands and made the decision that they were going to win set 3. I’m just really, really proud of the maturity and ownership they showed, because it somewhat has been missing a little bit sometimes this season, and that just gives me a lot of hope and faith that they are really committed to the goals they have set.
(On everyone contributing)
“It was a great team effort. Sullivan contributed beautifully as usual on her most incredible attacks, but everyone really contributed. We played great team defense. Our block was disciplined and did a nice job of starting our defensive efforts. Sawatzky did a great job distributing the ball and making good decisions. Before the match, I was worried about our passing because the two practices we had here were not necessarily pretty in that regard but they really stayed focused and they got their feet behind the ball and executed it beautifully. I couldn’t be more pleased with the performance.”
(On the next five match and making NCAAs)
“We just have to win. It doesn’t matter who we are playing from now on. We are just going for eighth straight. We are on a mission, and that is all we are thinking about is finding ways to win. It is really important. That is quite possibly the only way we make the national tournament, and even then it is not a given. We’ve had a really tough schedule and I know that is part of it. We have to really take care of business over the next two weeks, but three straight road wins is a huge momentum builder for us.”