Sophomore middle blocker Jazzmin Babers had a record-setting performance in the match with an A&M all-time high 13 blocks assists. Her 14 total blocks ties for second all-time. She also tallied a career-high 11 kills while hitting at a .440 clip. Junior middle blocker Shelby Sullivan led A&M in kills with 14.
Sophomore libero Victoria Arenas tallied a career-high 28 digs to lead the Aggies’ back-row efforts, and junior outside hitter Angela Lowak, who took home tournament MVP honors, pitched in a career-high 23 digs.
As a team, A&M finished with 34 block assists, the most since the 25-point rally scoring format began in 2008 and tying for the fourth most in program history. The Aggies totaled 19 total team blocks, while UTSA had eight.
UTSA was led by all-tournament selection Marijeta Runjic’s match-high 24 kills, and libero Annie Kunes’ Reed Arena-record 39 digs. As a team, the Roadrunners outhit A&M, .153 to .143 in the match, leading in kills, 66-56.
After posting two sweeps to start the season, the Aggies dropped their first set as UTSA came back from a 24-21 deficit to get the 28-26 win. Runjic had seven kills in the frame, and the Roadrunners outhit A&M, .282 to .174.
UTSA outhit A&M, 200 to .065, in the second set and used an 8-0 scoring outburst to take a commanding 20-10 lead. The Aggies got within 22-16 before UTSA put down three consecutive kills to close out the set and take a 2-0 lead heading into the intermission.
A&M came out fighting in the third set, jumping out to an 11-1 lead. UTSA, which was outhit .158 to .022 in the set, rallied and got back within 13-11 but was unable to take the lead. A&M slowly pulled away and used a 3-0 run to get to set point, 24-14. The Aggies then committed two hitting errors before Babers, who had five blocks in the set, put down the clinching kill.
There were 16 ties and seven lead changes in the intense fourth set. UTSA, which was outhit .204 to .111 in the frame, took its last lead of the set at 22-21 as all-tournament setter Jessica Waldrip served a ball that hit the top of the net and rolled over for an ace. Babers then teamed with freshman Ashlie Reasor, who also collected all-tournament honors, for a block to tie the score, but Runjic came back with her sixth kill of the set to put UTSA ahead, 23-22. A&M knotted the score at 23-23 when UTSA’s attack sailed long, and Reasor put A&M at set point with a kill. Reasor and Babers then teamed up once again for a block to close out the set and force a fifth and deciding set.
A&M scored the first point of the first set, courtesy of a UTSA attack error, but it would be the only lead the Aggies would hold. The Roadrunners followed with three consecutive kills and went on to build a 10-5 lead. A&M then began to charge back, with Sullivan starting the rally by pushing the ball to the open deep corner for a kill. UTSA hit into the net on the ensuing play, and Babers then strategically tipped a ball to the open sideline for a kill to put A&M within 10-8, forcing UTSA to call a timeout.
Babers and Kaysie Shebeneck then got a crucial block to put the Aggies within 10-9, but the streak ended after A&M served into the net. The teams traded points until, with UTSA up, 13-11, A&M hit wide to put the Roadrunners at match point, 14-11. The Aggies fought off one match point as Reasor hit off the block for her 10th kill, but Runjic answered with a kill to cap the Roadrunners’ first-ever win against the Aggies in 11 meetings.
A&M hits the road for the first time next weekend as it travels to Athens, Ohio, to participate in the Baymont Inn & Suites Invitational, Friday and Saturday, Sept 5-6. The Aggies open against the host Bobcats, an NCAA tournament team in 2013, on Friday at 6 p.m. (CT), and then take on Virginia Tech and VCU on Saturday at 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., respectively.
Visit 12thMan.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 Head Coach Laurie Corbelli post-match quotes:
“The start of today was a very strange feeling. I did not sense the urgency in my team. I think they wanted it to be there, but they couldn’t figure out how to drum it up. I don’t know why.”
On the momentum of the match…
“You gain some momentum, you get this false sense of confidence when you win and then a whole new game starts and it could look totally different. This game can look very psycho sometimes. It wasn’t the prettiest of volleyball on either side. It’s just who got it done when it mattered most. We weren’t ourselves today. We weren’t ever in our team offense. I mean very rarely, if ever, in our team offense. I’m just kind of baffled honestly.”
On what was said in break before the third set.…
“I did challenge them to try and light a fire somewhere. My attempt was to get them more fired up. I don’t think they did a very good job of firing themselves up. I didn’t do a very good job of firing them up to start the match. They don’t know how to fake it until they feel it yet. I don’t think we were really [pumped up] and it showed.”
On A&M’s blocking…
“I know we have good athletes and I know they’re generally good blockers, but we are trying to just sharpen it and get better focus. And I think that is a bright spot for us. I think we’re going to be a much better blocking team as we continue to go through the season.”
“I just think about the positives of this match. Our team got to experience a fifth set. They got to experience coming back from being down two sets to tying it up at two sets. They got to experience believing they were going to win it in the fifth. This match, I have to believe, was important for our season for some reason. It’s the second day of the season and people are going to go, ‘oh did you hear about this and that’. It’s kind of silly, because I am really happy for UTSA. They deserved that win. They really fought, and they stuck to a great game plan. We tried everything, and nothing was really consistently working. Sometimes you just have days like that. We went down fighting. It showed us the good and the not-so-polished parts of not only the newbies but of the whole team, and I wasn’t surprised honestly. I wanted to see how my team responded. That’s what I’m most disappointed in, how our team responded in the fifth set.”
Thoughts on the opening set…
“In the beginning we started out slow. I don’t’ think it should’ve been nerves, but I feel like we were hesitating a little bit, myself included. I think we could have finished it a lot faster and just put it away in three sets instead of dragging it out to five and not finishing.”
MVP: Angela Lowak, Texas A&M
Alex Lovell, Iowa
Jess Janota, Iowa
Ashlie Reasor, Texas A&M
Sarah Ray, Tulane
Marijeta Runjic, UTSA
Jessica Waldrip, UTSA
Matches Sets Sets W-L
W-L W-L Percentage
Texas A&M 2-1 8-3 .727
UTSA 2-1 7-6 .538
Iowa 2-1 6-4 .600
Tulane 0-3 1-9 .100
Friday, August 29
Texas A&M def. Iowa, 3-0 (25-17, 25-17, 25-21)
UTSA def. Tulane, 3-1 (21-25, 25-17, 25-13, 25-20)
Texas A&M def. Tulane, 3-0 (25-11, 25-17, 25-14
Iowa def. UTSA, 3-1 (25-20, 25-16, 19-25, 25-21)
Saturday, August 30
Iowa def. Tulane, 3-0 (25-13, 25-20, 25-20)
UTSA def. Texas A&M, 3-2 (28-26, 25-16, 16-25, 23-25, 15-12