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Texas A&M Set to Face UTSA in NCAA First Round

December 04, 2013
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Courtesy: Texas A&M Athletics
(photo: Texas A&M Athletics)

TEXAS A&M (18-11, 10-8 SEC) vs. UTSA (24-7, 13-1 C-USA)
NCAA Championship, First Round
Thursday, Dec. 5, 2013
4:30 p.m., Gregory Gym
Austin, Texas

TEXAS A&M/UTSA VS. NO. 1 TEXAS/Texas State
NCAA Championship, Second Round
Friday, Dec. 6, 2013
7 p.m., Gregory Gym
Austin, Texas

Television: Longhorn Network
Live Audio: AggieAthletics.com
Live Stats: AggieAthletics.com
In-Game Updates: Twitter.com/@AggieVolleyball

Texas A&M (18-11, 10-8 SEC) received an at-large bid to the 2013 NCAA Volleyball Championship and will face Conference USA champion UTSA (24-7, 13-1 C-USA) in the first round, Thursday, Dec. 5 at 4:30 p.m. at Gregory Gym in Austin, Texas.

The match against the Roadrunners will be followed by a first-round match between defending national champion and top-seeded Texas, the automatic qualifier from the Big 12 Conference, and Texas State, the Sun Belt Conference champion and automatic qualifier, at 7 p.m. The two first-round winners will meet in the second round, Friday at 7 p.m. at Gregory Gym, with the winner advancing to the Lincoln (Neb.) Regional, to be hosted by the University of Nebraska and played Dec. 13-14 at the Devaney Center.

Tickets to the Austin site are available online at 12thManFoundation.com or by calling 888-99-AGGIE. Tickets also can be purchased at TexasSports.com or by calling 52-471-3333.

All-session tickets general admission tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for students and youth. Single-session general admission tickets are $10 for adults and $6 for students and youth.

Texas A&M, which won seven of its last eight matches to close out the regular season and finish in a tie for sixth in the Southeastern Conference, is making its third consecutive and 21st overall appearance in the NCAA tournament. This marks the Aggies’ 17th appearance under 21st-year head coach Laurie Corbelli, making A&M one of only 14 teams in the nation that has made at least 17 appearances since she was hired in 1993. The Aggies, one of eight teams from the SEC to receive a bid to the NCAA tournament, capped the regular season with a 3-0 (25-22, 25-6, 25-18) victory over South Carolina on Nov. 27 at Reed Arena.

UTSA, which features the national leader in kills per set in senior outside hitter McKenzie Adams (5.82 kps), won the both the Conference USA regular-season and tournament titles in its inaugural season in the league. The Roadrunners are making their third appearance in the NCAA tournament and their first since 2010 when they were swept by Texas in Austin.

Texas State (24-12) is making its ninth NCAA appearance after winning the Sun Belt Conference tournament in its first year as a member of the league. The Bobcats, 0-8 all-time in the NCAA tournament, are making their first appearance since falling to Texas, 3-0, in the first round of the 2011 NCAA Championship.

No. 1 seed Texas is 23-2 overall and received an automatic berth by winning the Big 12 Conference with a 16-0 record. The Longhorns, who ended the regular season with a sweep against Baylor, have won 19 consecutive matches since falling to Arizona State on Sept. 13. They are making their 30th overall and 10th consecutive appearance in the NCAA tournament and are 54-9 all-time in NCAA matches played in Austin. Last year, Texas swept Oregon in the NCAA finals to win its third national championship.

FOLLOW THE ACTION:

  • Live audio will be available on AggieAthletics.com with Chelsea Reber and Casey Richardson or Rachel Corbelli calling the action
  • Tournament Central: http://texassports.com/news/2013/12/1/WVB_1201131057.aspx
  • Updates and other information can be found by following @AggieVolleyball on Twitter.com
  • Longhorn Network will carry all three matches at the Austin site with Paul Sunderland and Nell Fortner announcing

TEXAS A&M TOURNAMENT NOTES:

A&M is making its 21st overall appearance (1981, ‘82, ‘85, ‘86, ‘93, ‘94, ‘95, ‘96, ‘97, ‘98,’ 99, 2000, ‘01, ‘02, ‘03, ‘04, ‘05, ’09, ’11, ’12, ‘13) since the inception of the NCAA tournament in 1981…A&M sports a 24-20 (.545) all-time record in the NCAA tournament, including a 22-16 (.579) mark during Corbelli’s A&M tenure...A&M’s best finish in an NCAA tournament was a regional final appearance in both 1999 and 2001…A&M went 1-1 in the tournament last year in Austin Texas, defeating North Carolina State, 3-1, in the first round and falling to eventual national champion and former Big 12 rival Texas, 3-1, in the second round…This is A&M’s second consecutive and fourth overall trip to Austin for the NCAA tournament...The Aggies are 1-3 in NCAA matches in Austin...The SEC has eight teams in the tournament field. In addition to Texas A&M, the SEC teams are: No. 4 seed Missouri, No. 5 seed Florida, No. 15 seed Kentucky, Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia and LSU...Missouri earned the SEC’s automatic bid by winning the conference title with an 18-0 record...The Aggies are 6-9 this year against teams in the NCAA tournament field.

NCAA TOURNAMENT NOTES:

Thirty-one conferences were awarded automatic qualification, and the remaining 33 slots were filled with at-large selections to complete the bracket...The top 16 teams were seeded nationally and placed within four regions...Sixteen first-and second-round matches will be played Dec. 5-6 or 6-7 on the campuses of participating institutions...Winners will advance to four predetermined regional sites:  Los Angeles, Calif., Lexington, Ky., Champaign, Ill., and Lincoln, Neb....The four regional winners will meet at the Final Four, to be held at KeyArena at Seattle Center in Seattle, Wash., Dec. 19 and 21...Texas is the No. 1 seed and also is the defending national champion...For complete tournament bracket and information, visit the NCAA official Website at www.NCAAsports.com.

 

TEXAS A&M RECENT RESULTS:

Texas A&M capped the regular season and celebrated Senior Day with a 25-22, 25-6, 25-18 victory over South Carolina on Wednesday, Nov. 27 at Reed Arena. It was the seventh victory in the last eight outings for the Aggies, who also avenged a disappointing loss to the Gamecocks earlier in the season in Columbia, S.C. The match got off to an ugly start, before A&M, which outhit South Carolina .163 to .111, pulled away for the first-set win. South Carolina held a narrow 4-3 lead to open the second set before A&M erupted with seven unanswered points to go up 10-4. A cross-court kill by the Gamecocks only temporarily stopped the streaking Aggies, who then reeled off seven more points to surge to a 17-5 lead. After a South Carolina kill, A&M then ran the table, scoring eight consecutive points to end the set, 25-6, and take a 2-0 lead in the match. The Gamecocks’ six points was the fewest allowed in a set this season by the Aggies, who outhit South Carolina, .577 to -.065 in the frame, posting 15 kills while allowing only five.

After the break, A&M continued where it left off, scoring the first seven points of the third set, marking 15 consecutive points for the Aggies going back to the second set. South Carolina rallied and got within 7-5, but the Aggies countered with six straight points to go up 13-5. The Gamecocks never got closer than four points for the remainder of the set, as they were outhit .300 to .083.

A&M senior outside hitter Ashley Vrana and sophomore outside hitter Angela Lowak tied for match-high honors in kills with 10 apiece. Sophomore middle blocker Shelby Sullivan finished with nine kills with no errors in 13 attempts for a .692 hitting percentage as A&M outhit the Gamecocks, .312 to .054 for the match and led in kills, 45-28. Senior libero Heather Reynolds and senior setter Allie Sawatzky led the Aggies in digs with 10 each, and Sawatzky also dished out 29 assists to tally her conference-leading 20th double-double. Redshirt freshman middle blocker Jazzmin Babers led all players with four blocks.

SERIES HISTORY VS. UTSA:

·         A&M is 9-0 in the all-time series against UTSA.

·         The teams are meeting at a neutral site for the first time.

·         The teams met at the UTSA Classic earlier this season with the Aggies winning, 3-1 (25-22, 25-16, 16-25, 25-15) to win the tournament championship. A&M setter Allie Sawatzky had a triple-double with 10 kills, 48 assists and a season-high 16 digs, and outside hitter Sierra Patrick and middle blocker Jazzmin Babers had what remains career highs in kills with 21 and 10, respectively. In addition, libero Kelsey Kinley had a career-high 23 digs. A&M outhit the Roadrunners .296 to .253 for the match and posted 66 kills to UTSA’s 53, despite McKenzie Adams’ 27 kills, the most kills by an A&M opponent this season.

·         A&M is 6-0 and has dropped only one set against the Roadrunners during Laurie Corbelli‘s tenure as head coach of the Aggies.

TEXAS A&M TEAM NOTES:

·         Texas A&M is 20th in the nation and third in the SEC with 14.30 kills per set.  The Aggies rank 26th in the NCAA and fourth in the SEC with 13.27 kills per set, and they are 36th in the country and fourth in the conference with a .253 hitting percentage.

·         A&M has a balanced attack with five starters each averaging more than 2.50 points per set in all matches. With her consistent strong play throughout the SEC season, sophomore middle blocker Shelby Sullivan steadily climbed the ranks and leads the team with 3.51 points per set for the full season and 3.77 points per set in SEC matches only. Sophomore outside hitters Angela Lowak and Sierra Patrick are averaging 3.31 and 3.18 points per set, respectively, in all matches, while redshirt freshman middle blocker Jazzmin Babers (2.65 pps) and senior lefty setter Allie Sawatzky (2.59 pps) round out the top five scorers.

·         A&M has used 12 different starting lineups in 29 matches and 13 different lineups when considering the designated libero. Only setter Allie Sawatzky and middle blockers Shelby Sullivan and Jazzmin Babers have started every match. They also are the only three who have played in all 104 sets.

·         In the season opener against South Dakota State, five of six A&M players were making the first start of their collegiate careers, including two freshmen:  Emily Hardesty and Jazzmin Babers at outside hitter and middle blocker, respectively. Senior setter Allie Sawatzky was the only upperclassman in the lineup, as sophomore outside hitters Angela Lowak and Sierra Patrick and sophomore middle blocker Shelby Sullivan also drew their first career starts.

·         Sophomores and freshmen have accounted for 80 percent of A&M’s total kills (1192 of 1487) and 79 percent of the team’s total points (1459 of 1842.5). In addition, the underclassmen are responsible for 94 percent or 46 of 49 of the team’s solo blocks and 330 of 381 (87 percent) of the team’s block assists.

·         Seven of A&M’s losses have been to ranked opponents. The Aggies, who lead the SEC with eight matches against Top 25 opponents, are 1-7 against ranked foes, including five-set losses to No. 5 Florida and No. 7 Michigan. A&M defeated No. 16 Florida State, 3-0, for its only ranked win. Other ranked losses were against No. 15 Iowa State, 3-1, in the second match of the season, as well as 3-0 setbacks to No. 3 Florida, No. 11 Missouri, No. 16 Kentucky and No. 22 Colorado State.

·         Texas A&M won two of three pre-conference tournaments, winning the UTSA Classic with a 3-0 mark and winning its own Texas A&M Invitational. The Aggies, No. 7 Michigan and No. 16 Florida State all finished with 2-1 records in College Station, but A&M was awarded the trophy based on the sets won-lost ratio tiebreaker. A&M placed second at the season-opening UND Classic, won by No. 15 Iowa State.

·         Eleven of A&M’s 29 scheduled matches were against teams that appeared in the 2012 NCAA Championship, including Michigan and Florida State, who reached the Final Four in 2012 and 2011, respectively. A&M finished the regular season 5-6 against last year’s NCAA tournament teams.

·         Texas A&M head coach Laurie Corbelli returned two starters -- setter Allie Sawatzky and outside hitter Heather Reynolds, who is a defensive specialist this year -- and eight other letterwinners from last year’s team that won the SEC West with a 16-4 record and was 25-6 overall with a No. 17 final RPI after advancing to the NCAA second round, where the Aggies fell to eventual national champion Texas. Corbelli also welcomed two redshirt freshmen and four true freshmen to the 2013 squad.

·         A&M, the 2012 SEC Western Division Champion, was picked to win the SEC West again this year, along with LSU, according to a preseason vote of the league’s head coaches. However, in a meeting held in late August, the SEC athletics directors passed a measure, effective immediately, to recognize and award divisional champions in the sports of football and baseball only.

AGGIE PLAYER Notes:

·         The trip to Austin will be a homecoming of sorts for two Aggie players:  junior defensive specialist Hannah Hood, who attended Westlake High School, and junior opposite hitter Sierra Patrick, an Austin native who won two state championships playing for Lake Travis High School. In addition, sophomore outside hitter Angela Lowak (New Braunfels) and freshman redshirt middle blocker Jazzmin Babers (formerly from Waco) have Austin ties, as they played for Austin Juniors volleyball club with Patrick and won the 17 Open Division at the 2011 USAV Girls’ Junior National Championship.

·         Senior setter Allie Sawatzky and sophomore middle blocker Shelby Sullivan were named to the 18-member All-SEC Team, and middle blocker Jazzmin Babers was named to the SEC All-Freshman Team. All three players have started every match and played in every set this season. Sophomore outside hitter Angela Lowak was named to the SEC Community Service Team.

·         Sawatzky is the NCAA active career leader in kills+assists+digs per match heading into the tournament. The attacking minded setter averages a combined 50.26 with 4,472 assists, 872 digs and 737 kills in 121 matches played.

·         Sawatzky leads the SEC with six triple-doubles, including three in conference matches only. Sawatzky also leads the league with 20 double-doubles for the full season.

·         Sawatzky, a 6-2 lefty who averages 9.92 assists per set and also accounts for 15.5 percent of A&M’s total kills with 230 overall (2.21 kills per set), has recorded 10 or more kills 13 times this season. She is hitting a combined .451 when posting 10 or more kills.

·         Sawatzky is second on the team and 13th in the SEC with a .321 hitting percentage. She hit a career-high .714 (minimum 10 kills) with 10 kills, 0 errors in 14 attempts in the sweep against Mississippi State on Oct. 11, equaling the 10th best individual hitting percentage in program history when taking 10-14 swings in a match. Sawatzky hit .332 in SEC matches only, ranking 10th in the league.

·         Sawatzky has started every match of her career (121) at setter and has played in 445 of 448 total sets during her career. She moved into third place in A&M career assists records on Oct. 6 at South Carolina, surpassing Yvonne Van Brandt, who had 3,894 assists from 1986-89. Sawatzky, who now has 4,472 career assists, also ranks 10th in the career records with 925 points.

·         Middle blocker Shelby Sullivan ranks 32nd in the nation and sixth in the SEC with a .383 hitting percentage. Sullivan also is fifth in the league with 0.32 aces per set and 14th with 3.51 points per set. Sullivan hit .450 in SEC matches only, second best in the league.

·         Sullivan posted double-figure kills in nine conference contests -- tying Sawatzky for the team lead -- and hit an impressive .473 when posting 10-plus kills in SEC matches. She hit a career-high .682 (16k-0e-22ta) against No. 11 Missouri, ranking eighth in the A&M single match records when making 20 or more attack attempts.

·         Babers, who earned SEC weekly honors twice during the season, is second in the SEC and 38th in the nation with 1.31 blocks per set for the full season. Babers, who finished fourth in the SEC with 1.36 blocks per set in league matches only, has recorded nine or more blocks in a match five times this season.

·         Babers had a career-high 11 blocks against No. 7 Michigan on Sept. 13. It is the most blocks by an A&M freshman since Melissa Munsch collected 13 against Colorado on Oct. 24, 2001.

·         Lowak has posted double figures in kills in a team-high 15 matches, including each of the last two contests. A two-time all-tournament selection, she leads A&M with 3.04 kills per set for the full season. The sophomore tallied a career-high 23 kills at Georgia (Nov. 24), the most kills by an A&M player this season. It was the second time she recorded 20-plus kills in a match this season.

·         Patrick has posted double-figure kills in a 14 matches for the full season and is second on the team with 2.84 kills per set. A two-time all-tournament selection in 2013, Patrick has posted 20 or more kills in a team-leading four matches this season.

·         Senior libero Heather Reynolds’ 35 digs against at Georgia (Nov. 24) is the most by an A&M player in the rally scoring era, including when the 30-point scoring cap was in effect from 2001-07. It ties Erin Gibson (35 digs vs. Colorado, Sept. 23, 2000) for the fourth most digs in a match in school history.

·         Reynolds was the designated libero for the first time in her career against Arkansas on Oct. 25 and has now been the libero in each of the last 11 matches. She has tallied double-figure digs in each of the last nine matches and is averaging 4.56 digs per set since changing positions. She averages 3.03 digs per set for the full season.

·         Senior Kelsey Kinley, the libero in the first 18 matches of the season, leads the Aggies and ranks 13th in the SEC with 3.14 digs per set. The College Station native has tallied 10 or more digs in a team-leading 17 matches, including a career-high 23 in a 3-1 victory at UTSA. Kinley has taken or tied for team-high honors in digs in 12 matches overall.

·         Freshman Victoria Arenas made her A&M libero debut in the third set against South Carolina on Oct. 6. For the first point of the set, Arenas dug a hard-driven ball that then went over the net and fell in untouched for a kill. It was the first kill of her A&M career. Arenas, who has been a defensive specialist for all but the two sets she played libero, has appeared in 25 matches overall -- starting eight -- and in 77 sets. She had a career-high 20 digs in the 3-1 win against Arkansas on Oct. 25 and is averaging 2.16 digs per set for the full season

·         Babers has started every match this season and is one of four freshmen on the team to appear in the starting lineup. Outside hitter/opposite hitter Emily Hardesty has started 13 matches, and defensive specialist/libero Victoria Arenas has started eight. In addition, setter/opposite hitter Kaysie Shebeneck has started five matches. Arenas, Babers and Shebeneck all started against Michigan, marking the first time A&M had three freshmen in the starting lineup this season. The same trio has now appeared in the starting lineup three times overall, and Arenas, Babers and Hardesty have appeared in the same starting lineup four times.

SCOUTING UTSA:

·         UTSA, which returned five starters plus the libero from last year’s team that went 21-9, won the Conference USA regular season title with a 13-1 record and then won the conference tournament by sweeping both Southern Miss and Marshall before defeating Tulane, 3-1, in the championship match.

·         The Roadrunners are eighth in the nation in digs per set (17.69). They also are 15th in the country in hitting percentage (.276), 16th in assists per set (13.44) and 24th in the nation in kills per set (14.18).

·         Conference USA Player of the Year McKenzie Adams leads the nation with 5.82 kills per set and is second in the country with 6.27 points per set. She had 27 kills in a 3-1 loss to Texas A&M earlier this season.

·         Laura Neugebauer-Groff (Texas, 1986) is 213-171 in her 12th season as head coach of the Roadrunners and 469-232 in the 20th year of her head coaching career.

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