COLLEGE STATION, Texas - Texas A&M extended its SEC Western
Division lead with a 23-25, 25-19, 25-18, 25-17 win over second-place Arkansas
Sunday afternoon at Reed Arena.
It was the fourth consecutive victory for the Aggies, who improve
to 19-5 overall and 11-4 in the SEC to take a two-game lead over the Razorbacks
(18-8, 9-6 SEC) in the West.
Senior opposite Alisia Kastmo had 15 kills to lead a contingent of
four Aggie players with double-figure kills. Senior middle blocker Lindsey
Miller and freshman outside hitter Sierra Patrick added 12 kills apiece -- a
career-high for Patrick -- and senior outside hitter Tori Mellinger contributed
10 kills as A&M led Arkansas in kills, 64-51, and also outhit the
Razorbacks, .265 to .162.
A&M also had four players with double-figure digs, including
senior libero Megan Pendergast, who had a career-high 32 digs, the most by an
A&M player since 2010. Junior setter Allie Sawatzky tied her career high
with 15 digs while also dishing out 46 assists and posting eight kills, and
Kastmo and Mellinger had 14 and 13 digs, respectively, to register double
The first set was nip-and-tuck from start to finish with 17 ties, three
lead changes and nearly identical statistics. A&M opened by scoring the
first three points, but that would be its biggest lead as the Razorbacks
countered with three points to even the set. The Aggies later held a 10-9 lead
when Arkansas used a 4-0 run to take its first lead of the frame. A kill by
Kastmo ended the rally, and Arkansas hit long on the next play to put A&M
within 13-12. Sawatzky, like she did several times throughout the match, pushed
the ball over to a wide-open back corner for a kill to tie the score. The teams
then traded sideouts until Mellinger put down an Arkansas overpass to return
the lead to A&M, 18-17.
The Aggies held a narrow 21-20 lead when Arkansas posted back-to-back
kills and also got an ace following a serve that hit the top of the net and
narrowly rolled over and fell on the Aggies' side, putting the Razorbacks up 23-21.
Patrick got a kill through the block, and an Arkansas attack sailed long to tie
the score for the final time.
On the next play, Sawatzky was whistled for attacking a ball that
had been set by the libero in front of the 10-foot, putting the Razorbacks at
set point. Roslandy Acosta then closed out the set for the Razorbacks by
tooling the A&M block for a kill.
Arkansas had built a 3-1 lead in the second set when a block by
senior middle blocker Stephanie Minnerly and Kastmo marked the start of a 4-0
run that put the Aggies ahead, 5-3. The Razorbacks managed to tie the score at
5-5, but it would be the last tie of the set as Miller and Sawatzky's play at the
net led the Aggies on a 5-0 run for a 10-5 lead. A&M later used a 6-1 rally
to double up the Razorbacks once again, 18-9. Arkansas got within 23-19 after outscoring
the Aggies, 4-1, but the Razorbacks then hit long to put A&M at set point. Mellinger
then closed out the set with a kill to even the match at a set apiece.
A&M never trailed in the third set and the only tie was at
2-2. Patrick broke the tie with one of her four kills in the set, sparking a
4-0 run by the Aggies. A&M twice built a seven-point lead, the last coming
at 17-10 before Arkansas rallied to get within 19-16. An attack error and a
blocking error ended the Razorbacks' run, but Jasmine Norton would put down her
seventh kill of the set to keep the Hogs within 21-17. An errant pass by the
Razorbacks set up Minnerly for the kill, and Mellinger put A&M up 23-17
with another kill following a long rally that included diving saves by both
teams. Sawatzky then got a kill with another one of her strategically placed
attacks to the open back corner, putting A&M at set point. Arkansas stayed
alive with a block on the ensuing play but then served long to give the Aggies
the 25-18 win and a 2-1 lead in the match.
The Aggies, who defeated the Razorbacks, 3-2, in the first-ever
meeting between the two teams earlier this season in Fayetteville, jumped out
to a 5-0 advantage in the fourth set but didn't take command until, with the
score tied at 12-12, A&M outscored the Razorbacks 9-1 to build a 21-13
lead. Arkansas, which was outhit, .333 to .119 in the frame, managed to twice
get within five points and was trailing 22-17 when Kastmo got a kill and junior
Heather Reynolds registered an ace to put A&M at match point. Miller then
capped the victory, executing the slide to perfection and pounding a kill down
the line for the winner.
Norton led the Razorbacks with 18 kills and 21 digs in the match.
The Aggies hit
the road next weekend, playing at Auburn Friday at 7 p.m. and then facing
Georgia for the first time as SEC foes on Sunday in Athens. The match against
the Bulldogs begins at 1 p.m. (CT) and will be televised by Comcast/Cox.
Texas A&M Post-Match Quotes
(On her intensity
during the game)
To be perfectly honest, sometimes you go with your gut that
the team needs a little bit more from you or something different than normal. I
sensed that they needed my louder voice. They were a little flat emotionally
and I couldn't put my finger on it. I knew I needed to do something to spark a
little feistiness in them. At that point, you start doing whatever you feel
like has worked in the past. I felt like I had to be a lot more animated.
I see them run down balls in practice a lot, so I know how
fast Megan (Pendergast) is and how fast they all can be. I never questioned
their effort; I just questioned their belief. I know they are a very determined
group and they work their butts off all the time. I have to challenge them
sometimes to help them bring out the best in their game. Sometimes that means I
have to be really amped up. They are phenomenal players. We could be at the top
of the league in defense and digs. I think we have been for most of the season.
A great block makes things easier. I think it's a blast. I think when we get to
run balls down and get tips up, they are momentum changers for the game. It
changes in your favor, and that's why we are really big on groveling on
(On Sierra Patrick)
She's been playing most of the season on the right side in
practice. When we decided to do a "merry-go-round" on the left side to see who
was going to consistently be able to play that position, she came forward. I
know she understands the game. She's got the complete package with passing and
defense and blocking. She just plays with a really calm presence and brings a
really even temperament to the court and I think that's good for the older
players. I just think that right now, the consistency that Sierra brings is
really nice. My impression was that she went in today really carefree. She's a
freshman, she has no expectations. She just trusts in her ability. I know that
when Allie (Sawatzky) sets her, she knows that Sierra is going to go up hard. I
think they have a good connection. I've been seeing it more in practice. I
think once Sierra gets her first kill, it's clear in her mind that she can do the
job. It's very nice for a setter to know that she has a good connection with an
Senior Libero Megan
(On team attitude
during the game)
This whole season our focus has been playing for each other
and investing in each other's success. I think we started out a little flat
today, and we just overemphasized that part of our game. We played for each
other and didn't focus on what happened the last set or the last point. We were
just (focused on) winning the next point and playing for each other. It's fun
to play good volleyball.
(On chasing down
I'm just doing everything I can do to keep the ball off the ground.
I know that if I put the ball in a good spot where my team can run the offense,
they are going to put it away. It's really easy to dig balls when you've got a
solid block up there and you know everyone around you is in the right spot. I
can honestly say I played good defense today because of everyone around me who
made it really easy to do what I needed to do.
(On the long rallies)
Arkansas played great defense today and they kept the ball
off of the floor. I felt like we had really long rallies today. Sometimes you
can't just pass the ball and get a really great swing. Sometimes you have to do
it two or three times. It's about character. You get a dig and remember that
it's not a big deal. You are still transitioning, and our hitters do a great
job of that always.
(On junior defensive
specialist Kelsey Kinley)
Kelsey Kinley is an amazing DS and libero. You can put her
in at any time and she's going to do a good job. I work hard all practice long
because I know how good Kelsey is. She helps me a lot on the sideline, as well
as Hannah (Hood) and Kate (Praslicka). Kelsey's amazing. She does a good job.
She's consistent and doesn't make many mistakes.
(On the win)
It was a really good win today. We got better as a team. We
are just going to keep focusing on that. It's only the beginning of November. We
are going to keep getting better every day. Come the end of the season, the other
teams aren't going to want to see us on their side of the bracket because we
are going to be a thorn in the sides of some of those big teams.
Blocker Lindsey Miller
(On rallying during
I think the best part about our team is that even in
situations like that, we never freak out. We are really good at remaining calm
in situations like that. We knew what we had to do and we knew it would happen.
Patience is big for us. Not every rally is going to present an immediate
opportunity to score, but we all trust each other to make the play and know
that the next time we will get the chance to swing or make a block. If it's not
the perfect opportunity right then, the next time it will be. I think that's something
that we really have: patience instead of being too high-energy or too uptight
when we are down like that. We can remain calm, and it's not so much the
urgency but the patience that really helps us in those situations.
(On positive attitude
during the game)
It's just having the trust in the defense behind me. If I
put up the best block possible, they will make the best dig possible. Whatever
touches I get on the block makes it easier for the defense to get a great dig. The
smile I get on my face is from them not being able to put the ball away. They
don't have a chance. Just getting all those touches or blocks in one rally
makes me excited.
(On getting the final
All game long, they were telling me to hit the line. I guess
it clicked by the final point. It's always exciting to know the setter trusts
me with that final point. I could feel it. I knew it was coming. I knew that
this set was our set. It's just a good feeling knowing that Allie trusts me to
get that last point for the team.
must be made by Tuesday, Nov. 6 for the season's final "Lunch with Laurie" on
Tuesday, Nov. 13. RSPV by contacting Kelly Stumph at email@example.com.
The luncheon will be noon-1 p.m. in the volleyball practice gym at
Reed Arena and will include a meal, video highlights and commentary from
Corbelli as well as players depending on class schedules. In addition, those
purchasing a lunch ticket will automatically be entered to win a Texas A&M
volleyball jersey autographed by the team. The drawing will be held at the
conclusion of the luncheon.
Free parking is available in lot 100g at Reed, and fans should
enter Reed through the main entrance facing Olsen Blvd. and follow signs to the
Cost is $10 per person at the door (cash or check only).
For more information, please contact Kelly Stumph at firstname.lastname@example.org or