GRAND FORKS, N.D. – Texas A&M sophomore opposite hitter Sierra Patrick tallied a career-high 20 kills, and redshirt freshman middle blocker Jazzmin Babers posted nine blocks, but the 15th-ranked Iowa State Cyclones pulled away for a tightly contested 21-25, 25-22, 25-23, 27-25 victory this morning at the UND Classic at the Sioux Center.
With the win, Iowa State clinched the tournament title with a 3-0 record. The Aggies (1-1) close out the tournament against host North Dakota at 7 p.m. tonight. Free live video of the UND match will be available at BigSkyConf.com.
There were eight ties and four lead changes early in the first set between the two former Big 12 Conference foes. ISU took its largest lead early, scoring three consecutive points to jump out to a 3-1 lead. The Aggies countered with four unanswered points to go up, 5-3, but the lead was short lived as an A&M ball handling error and back-to-back kills by ISU put the Cyclones up, 6-5.
A&M tied the score four times before taking a 13-12 lead on an ace by senior setter Allie Sawatzky. The Cyclones immediately tied the score at 13-13 on a kill, but A&M countered with back-to-back kills by sophomore outside hitter Angela Lowak and Sawatzky, giving the Aggies a lead they would not relinquish.
The Aggies, who outhit ISU .429 to .257 in the set, built their largest lead at 22-17 following a kill by Lowak, but a service error and a Cyclone kill put the Cyclones within 22-19. Sawatzky then posted her fifth kill of the frame and ISU hit wide to put the Aggies at set point. The Cyclones got two kills to cut the margin to 24-21 before Patrick put down a kill from the left side to seal the victory.
A&M scored the first three points of the second set, getting kills from Lowak, Babers and Patrick. The Aggies went on to build their biggest lead at 7-3 following a kill by sophomore middle blocker Shelby Sullivan on the slide attack, but ISU eventually tied the score at 10-10 and took its first lead of the second set at 12-11 as an A&M attack sailed wide. Patrick returned the lead to the Aggies with a kill and a solo block, but it would be A&M’s last lead. ISU got a kill and A&M hit into the net as the Cyclones went up, 14-13. A&M tied the score at 14-14 and 15-15 on kills by Sullivan before ISU mounted a 4-0 run to build its largest lead, 19-15.
The Maroon and White rallied late, scoring three consecutive points following a kill apiece by Babers and Patrick and an ace by senior libero Kelsey Kinley. ISU, which outhit the Aggies, .429 to .294 in the stanza, then scored two points to be serving for the set. Patrick staved off one set point, tooling the block for a kill, before Victoria Hurtt put down a kill to give the Cyclones the 25-22 win and even the match at a set apiece.
There were nine ties and four lead changes in the third set, with Lowak giving the Aggies their biggest lead at 9-7 following a solo block and a kill. A&M maintained its two-point lead at 15-13 before ISU mounted the longest run of the match, reeling off six unanswered points to take a 19-15 lead. The Cyclones later held a 24-21 advantage, but Patrick staved off two sets points and put the Aggies within 24-23 on back-to-back kills before a kill by Tenisha Matlock capped the set for ISU and gave the Cyclones a 2-1 lead in the match.
Iowa State controlled the first half of the fourth set, forcing A&M to call its second timeout with the Cyclones leading 18-11. Lowak came out of the timeout and got a kill from the back row to spark a four-point run by the Aggies. A&M continued to chip away at the lead, and two consecutive kills by Patrick tied the score at 22, the first tie since 6-6.
Following ISU’s second timeout, the Cyclones scored two points and were serving for the match leading 24-22, but Patrick, who hit .514 for the match, once again got consecutive kills to knot the score at 24-24. The teams traded kills and were tied at 25-25 when A&M hit wide and then hit into the ISU block to give the Cyclones the 27-25 win and the match.
The Cyclones outhit A&M .261 to .255, in the match and led in kills, 66-56. ISU also led in digs, 69-52, while A&M held the advantage in blocks, 12-4.
Lowak joined Patrick in double-figure kills with a career-high 11 kills and tallied her first career double-double, tallying a team-high 13 digs. Sawatzky also notched a double-double with 40 assists and 10 digs.
Matlock led the Cyclones with 20 kills, and senior libero Kristen Hahn led all players with 23 digs.
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Texas A&M Head Coach Laurie Corbelli quotes:
“I thought it was a really hard-fought match. We made some young errors at bad times, and we were a little inconsistent with our energy level. We had some drop-offs that I think really affected us. This was a really tough match. It really highlighted areas for us that we need to improve in, so if we can learn from that, it was a great experience. It was a tough test on the second day of the season, no question, but I’m welcoming those tests. We’ll have them all preseason long, and we have a really smart group. We have a group that is really driven, and I have no doubt that they are going to respond to the changes that we need to make and the adjustments that need to be made right now. This just exposed those weaknesses that we have to fix, and I know we will. I don’t worry at all that it is not going to happen.”
(On the young players)
“Sierra is an incredibly dynamic athlete. She is available for us on the right and the left and she is just so early in her career. That makes it super exciting. And Lowak, too, has had a great start with a little bit of a lull in the middle of the match, but both of them, wow, only sophomores, and Sullivan. And with Babers, that group of four attackers is really key right now for us with one year under their belt in the program.
“We know that the back court is going to be an area where we continue to look to our experienced players to come through for us, because it is a very fast game and it’s really hard for the young kids to learn that right away.
(On Iowa State)
“Their four-year starting libero (Kristen Hahn) heads up their defense and did a beautiful job. They have some defensive specialists who are doing an awesome job of taking over the back court. I really think the back court was the difference today.”