MADISON, Wis. – Going against its third top-six ranked team in four matches, Texas A&M fell to No. 6 Wisconsin, 25-19, 25-23, 25-10, tonight in the final match of the HotelRed Invitational at UW Field House.
The Badgers, who outhit A&M, .297 to .077 and led in blocks, 11-4, remain undefeated, improving to 7-0 en route to winning the tournament title. Texas A&M drops to 3-3.
There were five ties early in the opening set before Wisconsin began to pull away. The set was tied for the final time at 7-7 when the Badgers scored four unanswered points. The Aggies, who were outhit, .448 to .135, managed to tie the score for a sixth time at 14-all following back-to-back kills by sophomore outside hitter Hollann Hans. The Badgers got a kill to keep the lead, 15-14, and continued on a 5-1 run that put them ahead, 19-15. A&M got within 19-17 following a Wisconsin service error and a kill by senior outside hitter Kiara McGee, set up by a play-saving dig by senior libero Amy Nettles, but the Aggies were unable to overcome the deficit.
Leading 21-18, the Badgers reeled off three consecutive points to go up 24-18. They then served into the net but came back with a kill in the ensuing play to close out the set.
Wisconsin held a 4-3 edge in the second stanza when A&M went on a 5-0 run, including back-to-back aces by junior middle blocker Kaitlyn Blake. The Badgers got within 8-7 before Hans had consecutive kills and the Aggies won a long rally to go up 11-7. A&M later held onto a 12-10 lead when freshman setter Camille Conner dumped the ball over for a kill. McGee followed with a solo stuff block against 6-8 middle blocker Dana Rettke as well as a kill to give the Aggies their largest lead, 15-10. Wisconsin, however, charged back, using a 9-1 run to build a 19-16 advantage, taking its first lead since 4-3. A&M, which was outhit .159 to .061, twice got within a point, including fighting off three set points to get within 24-23 before the Badgers closed out the set with a kill to take a 2-0 lead in the match.
Wisconsin opened the thrid set with five unanswered points and later went on a 9-1 run to put the set out of reach. A&M, which was outhit, .357 to .029 in the frame, was held to a season-low 10 points as the Badgers closed out the set and completed the sweep with back-to-back kills.
McGee, who led the Aggies with 13 kills, and Blake were both named to the all-tournament team. Conner finished with 24 assists. Nettles moved into 11th place in the A&M career records for digs as she tied junior defensive specialist Amy Houser for match-high honors in digs with 11.
Rettke led the Badgers with 12 kills while hitting .455.
A&M closes out its preconference schedule on Wednesday as the Aggies welcome fifth-ranked Texas to Reed Arena. It is the first time the Longhorns have played at Reed since 2011, A&M’s final year as a member of the Big 12 Conference. First serve against the Longhorns is slated for 7 p.m., and the match will be televised on SEC Network.
All students with an A&M Sports Pass will be admitted free. In addition, it will be Fish Camp Night, and any student wearing a Fish Camp shirt will receive $3 admission. It also is Corps of Cadets Night at the match.
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 and Instagram by following @AggieVolleyball.
TEXAS A&M HEAD COACH LAURIE CORBELLI
On her general thoughts on the match…
“We made twice as many, three times as many attack errors as they did. We really shot ourselves in the foot in that regard. Our passing was subpar, which didn’t allow us to really ever get an offense. We had one-on-six almost all night. Kiara [McGee] going at them, Hollann [Hans] going at them all by themselves. We just didn’t have a team attack. You can hardly win going against a middle-of-the-road team doing that, and you certainly can’t do that going against the No. 6 team. Obviously everyone is really, really disappointed. However, we have got the No. 1 strength of schedule in the nation right now and it’s brutal. We are playing against some of the best teams, so maybe we could have pulled a match out if it was against somebody else not in the top 10. We are just seeing great competition so that we can learn and be better and be ready for the SEC. I think that’s the thing I have to ask is are we learning from these matches. I believe we are. Learning can be a slow process for a whole team. We have got such an interesting blend of seniors and freshmen. It is certainly a huge challenge ahead of us. I know the team is really determined. They are on board with giving their best every day and making little baby steps towards our goal of getting to the NCAA tournament and winning an SEC championship.
“I never thought we got into a good flow the entire match, but I did think some players really had some great swings and learned some things, especially our outsides. Our outsides are kind of carrying us right now. For them to be able to go against this type of block and defense and score points, it’s really huge for us. It will be like that against the top teams, especially in the SEC. I am not super happy about our performance, especially in the last set, but I see what happened and we just have to have a short memory on that set. I thought the first two sets were actually relatively well played until we gave up that run in the middle of the second set. We just made some unforced errors. It’s a game of if you make too many unforced errors, you can’t win. That part of it starts to frustrate them as a team.
On looking forward to hosting Texas on Wednesday…
“It’s going to be a great crowd. I hope the 12th Man will come out and support this group of girls that have a passion for Texas A&M and Texas A&M Volleyball. They are working hard to represent A&M as best we can, and they deserve a great crowd to come out and support them and lead us to a great match and hopefully a great victory.”