Keyed by sophomore outside hitter Sierra Patrick and redshirt freshman middle blocker Jazzmin Babers, the Aggies won the three sets by scores of 26-24, 25-21, 25-18 to improve to 19-11 on the season. With the win, the Aggies notched their eighth victory in the last nine matches.
Patrick recorded a career-high seven blocks and led the Maroon and White with a .444 hitting percentage and 15 kills. Babers added seven blocks, 10 kills and a .368 hitting percentage. Senior Allie Sawatzky notched 38 assists, eight digs and five kills, and senior libero Heather Reynolds took team-high honors in digs with 14.
Texas A&M rebounded from a late UTSA charge, fighting off a set point, to take the first set, 26-24. The Roadrunners did not claim a lead in the initial set, until 18-17. UTSA eventually stretched the lead to 22-20, before A&M closed out the set on a 6-2 run, closing out the frame on an attack error by the ‘Runners Dajana Boskovic. The Aggies hit .295 and tallied two blocks in the first set. Babers led the first-set assault, hitting .750 with seven kills. Patrick hit .625 with six kills.
The Aggies charged out to a 4-0 lead in the first set behind a pair of kills and an assist by Babers. The Roadrunners pecked away at the lead to close the gap to 6-5, before the Aggies created separation again with a 7-3 run to take a 13-8 lead. The surge was started by back-to-back kills by Shelby Sullivan and included kills by Sawatzky, Angela Lowak and Babers.
The Roadrunners clawed their way back into the first set, knotting the match for the first time at 16-16 and taking their first lead at 18-17. UTSA held two-point leads at 21-19 and 22-20 and served for the match at 24-23. A&M scored three straight points coming out of a timeout, with a kill by Patrick, a block assist by Emily Hardesty and Sullivan and the attack error by UTSA’s Boskovic on set point.
Texas A&M’s momentum did not carry over to the second set as the Roadrunners raced out to a 13-9 lead, but the Aggies persevered, taking the set 25-21. The Maroon and White hit .256 in the set with three blocks and two service aces. Patrick was the top swinger in the set with six kills and a .667 hitting percentage.
Trailing 13-9, A&M went on a 6-0 run to claim a 15-13 advantage. The streak started with an attack error by UTSA’s McKenzie Adams, the NCAA national leader in kills per set. Patrick, Babers and Lowak added three straight kills, and two consecutive block assists by Babers and Patrick capped the rally.
UTSA knotted the second set at 15-15, but a 6-2 run by the Aggies, including three kills by Patrick and two by Hardesty, gave A&M a 21-17 lead and control of the set. The second set also ended with an attack error by the Roadrunners’ Boskovic.
The third set started out in see-saw fashion, with seven ties on the first 14 points, before a 7-0 string dropped the anvil on the Roadrunners, giving A&M a 14-7 edge. The sequence featured three block assists by Babers and Patrick. UTSA would draw no closer than four points for the rest of the set, at 17-13 and 20-16, and the match ended on a ball handling error by the Roadrunners’ Brandy Huskey.
With the win, Texas A&M improved to 25-20 all-time in the NCAA Championship, including 23-16 under head coach Laurie Corbelli. The Aggies won their fourth consecutive NCAA Championship First Round match.
Texas A&M, winners of eight of their last nine matches, will play No. 1 Texas at 7 pm on Friday evening at Gregory Gym.
Postgame Quotes – Texas A&M
Head coach Laurie Corbelli
Opening statement: We are really pleased with the way our team executed the game plan. We’re really pleased with the two players sitting next to me (Sierra Patrick and Jazzmin Babers) with their seven blocks and incredibly high hitting percentages. They both really had great performances tonight. With the balance that we offer on offense, every night we have different attackers who seem to have superstar performances. Tonight, it was these two (players).
Sophomore OH Sierra Patrick
On thoughts about possibly playing Texas here tomorrow: I think that would be awesome. I know a bunch of the girls on the team, and I have a bunch of friends and family that will be here. I love to perform. I love being in those types of situations, and I think my team loves being in those types of situations. I am excited. It is always fun to have good competition. That is what we play for, so I am definitely looking forward to it.
Redshirt freshman MB Jazzmin Babers
On if she changed her normal game plan with certain UTSA hitters after the first set: With McKenzie Adams on the outside, I definitely cheated over there. She is one of the more powerful hitters and seems to lead the team, so I definitely took a couple more steps that way before the ball was set.