COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- The Texas A&M volleyball team (2-1) hits the road for the first time this season, heading to Athens, Ohio, Friday and Saturday, Sept. 5-6, to compete in the four-team Baymont Inn & Suites Invitational, hosted by Ohio University. A&M opens the tournament Friday at 6 p.m. (CT) against the host Bobcats, who will be making their home season debut at the Convocation Center. The Aggies conclude the tournament with a pair of matches on Saturday, taking on Virginia Tech at 9 a.m. (CT) and VCU at 4 p.m. (CT).
A&M is 2-1 after winning the Texas A&M Invitational last weekend. The Aggies swept both Iowa and Tulane but fell to UTSA, 3-2, in the final match. A&M tied both UTSA and Iowa with a 2-1 record but was awarded the championship trophy based on having the highest sets won-lost ratio (8-3, .727).
Ohio, an NCAA tournament team in 2013, went 1-2 at the Chevron Rainbow Wahine Invitational in Honolulu last weekend. The Bobcats fell to No. 17 Hawaii, 3-0, defeated San Diego State, 3-1, and fell in a tight 3-2 battle to No. 25 Arizona State.
VCU is 1-2 after getting swept by both No. 18 Colorado State and Marquette and defeating UC Santa Barbara, 3-1, at the Colorado State Invitational in Fort Collins, Colo.
Virginia Tech is 1-2, falling to Butler, 3-1, in the season opener and then sweeping Wichita State. The Hokies then fell to host and 19th-ranked Kentucky, 3-1, in the final match of the Bluegrass Battle in Lexington, Ky.
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TEXAS A&M NOTES:
· The 2014 season marks the 40th season of volleyball at Texas A&M. The Aggies are 934-516-2 all-time.
· A&M is 13-8 is its first away or neutral site match of the season since Laurie Corbelli became head coach in 1993. Last year, A&M won its third consecutive first non-home match of the season, sweeping South Dakota State, 25-10, 25-12, 25-12 at the UND Classic in Grand Forks, N.D.
· Corbelli is in her 22nd season at the helm of the Aggies and the 29th year of her head coaching career. She is 545-319 overall and 445-213 at A&M, where she has directed the Aggies to 17 NCAA appearances.
· Corbelli returns four starters -- juniors Angela Lowak (6-0, OH) and Shelby Sullivan (6-2, MB) and sophomores Jazzmin Babers (6-2, MB) and Emily Hardesty (6-3, OH) -- and five other letterwinners from last year’s team that went 19-12 and made a third consecutive appearance in the NCAA second round before being eliminated by Texas for the second straight year.
· There are eight newcomers on the A&M roster, including a six-person freshman recruiting class that was recognized by both Volleyball Magazine and PrepVolleyball.com. High school All-Americans Stephanie Aiple (6-1, S/OPP), who joined the team in January, and lefty Ashlie Reasor (6-1, OPP), as well as Kiara McGee (5-11, OH), Amy Nettles (5-4, L/DS), Olivia Thorpe (5-11, OH) and Uche Ukadike (5-11, MB) make up the freshman class.
· Texas A&M improved to 22-0 in home season openers under head coach Laurie Corbelli, sweeping Iowa, 25-17, 25-17, 25-21, in the opening match of the Texas A&M Invitational. Junior outside hitter Angela Lowak led the Aggie offense with 10 kills while hitting at a .346 clip as the Aggies outhit the Hawkeyes .327 to .174. Junior middle blocker Shelby Sullivan added nine kills and hit .333, and freshman setter Stephanie Aiple dished out 25 assists in only two sets of action. Sophomores Victoria Arenas and Emily Hardesty led the team in digs with 15 and 10, respectively.
· A&M posted a convincing 25-11, 25-17, 25-14 victory against Tulane in the second match of the season, outhitting the Green Wave, .351 to .030. Lowak once again led the team in kills with 11, and she also took top honors in digs with nine. Fifteen players saw action for the Aggies, and every front row player had at least one kill.
· The Aggies suffered their first loss of the season in the final match of the tournament, giving up a 24-21 first-set lead en route to a 28-26, 25-16, 16-25, 23-25, 15-12 setback to UTSA. Sophomore middle blocker Jazzmin Babers had a career performance, posting an A&M record 13 block assists along with a personal best 11 kills. Her 14 total blocks ties for second in the A&M all-time records. Shelby Sullivan and freshman opposite hitter Ashlie Reasor also posted double figures in kills with 14 and 10, respectively. Victoria Arenas and Angela Lowak each had career highs in digs with 28 and 23, respectively. Although A&M tallied 34 block assists, tying for fourth most in school history, the Aggies were outhit, .153 to .143, and the Roadrunners led in kills (66-56), digs (106-90) and aces (6-3).
· A&M, UTSA and Iowa all finished the tournament with identical 2-1 records, creating a three-way tie for first place. The Aggies were awarded the championship trophy based on their sets won-lost ratio against the tied teams.
· The Aggies play their third consecutive pre-conference tournament and close out a five-match road swing at the USC Classic in Los Angeles, Sept. 11-12. They take on the sixth-ranked Women of Troy on Thursday, Sept. 11 at 8 p.m. (PDT) in a match that will be televised by the Pac 12 Network. A&M then faces No. 15 San Diego on Sept. 12, the second of four consecutive ranked opponents for the Aggies.
· The Aggies return home to Reed Arena for a two-match series against No. 8 Florida State on Sept. 19-20. A&M swept the then-16th-ranked Seminoles last year in College Station en route to winning the Texas A&M Invitational.
Series vs. OHIO:
· Ohio won the first and only other meeting against A&M, topping the Aggies, 3-1 (29-27, 25-18, 15-25, 26-24) at the Missouri State JQH Invitational in Springfield, Mo., on Sept. 4, 2010.
• The Bobcats are the defending Mid-American Conference regular and tournament champions and are picked to repeat this season according to a preseason poll of the league’s head coaches.
• Ohio returns four starters plus the libero from last year’s team that advanced to the NCAA first round, finished with a 27-6 record and received votes in the final AVCA ranking.
• Ohio opened its season last weekend at the Chevron Rainbow Wahine Invitational in Honolulu. The Bobcats went 1-2, falling to No. 17 Hawaii, 3-0, defeating San Diego State, 3-1, and then dropping a tightly contest 3-2 match against No. 25 Arizona State.
• Junior middle blocker and 2013 First Team All-MAC selection Karin Bull was named the Mid-American Conference East Division Defensive Player of the Week on Monday after leading the Bobcats with 1.17 blocks per set at the Chevron Rainbow Wahine Invitational.
• Outside hitter Kelly Lamberti, a 2013 AVCA All-America Honorable Mention and 2012 MAC Player of the Year, leads the Bobcats with 3.92 kills per set. She is coming off back-to-back 20-plus kill performances, posting 22 kills against San Diego State and 20 kills against Arizona State.
• Sophomore Setter Abby Gilleland, the 2013 MAC Player and Setter of the Year, is averaging 8.25 assists per set.
• Junior libero Meredith Ashy is averaging 4.42 digs per set on the year after posting team highs in digs against both San Diego State and Arizona State with 18 and 22, respectively.
• As a team, Ohio is hitting .139 and averaging 11.08 kills, 1.58 aces, 15.42 digs and 2.58 blocks per set. Opponents are hitting .164 and averaging 12.08 kills, 1.75 aces, 16.67 digs and 2.12 blocks per set.
• Deane Webb (Mary Hardin-Baylor ’95) is in his first season as head coach of the Bobcats.
Series vs. VCU
· This will be the first meeting between A&M and VCU.
• VCU went 1-2 last weekend at the Colorado State Invitational in Fort Collins, Colo. The Rams opened with three-set losses to both No. 18 Colorado State and Marquette. In its last match of the tournament, VCU dropped its first set to UC Santa Barbara, 35-33, the most points scored in a VCU set since going to the 25-point scoring format in 2008, but came back to win the next three sets to get its first victory.
• VCU went 26-8 last year and was the 2013 Atlantic 10 Conference runner-up. Then sophomore Romana Kriskova averaged a school-record 4.83 kills per set, which ranked fifth nationally, but has since transferred to Wisconsin.
• Freshman outside hitter Jessica Young leads the Rams with 2.60 kills per set. Freshman libero Mary Kilbane and senior setter Cecilia Aragao are tied for the team lead with 3.80 digs per set apiece.
• As a team, VCU has been held to a .078 hitting percentage and 10.00 kills per set over the first three matches. Opponents are hitting .229 while averaging 13.20 kills per set.
• Jody Rogers (Eastern Connecticut ’93) is in her second season as head coach of the Rams.
series vs. virginia tech:
· Virginia Tech is 1-0 all-time against A&M, having won the only other meeting, 3-2 (15-11, 15-13, 12-15, 7-15, 16-14) at the Virginia Tech Allsport Volleyfest in Blacksburg, Va., on Sept. 3, 1994.
SCOUTING virginia Tech:
• Virginia Tech opened its season last weekend, going 1-2 at the Bluegrass Battle at Kentucky. The Hokies won their first set but fell to Butler, 3-1, in the opener. Tech then swept Wichita State before falling to No. 19 Kentucky, 3-1, in the last match of the tournament.
• The Hokies finished last season with a 22-12 mark while going 10-10 in Atlantic Coast Conference play to mark one of the team’s best finishes since joining the league in 2004.
• Tech returns five starters, including senior middle blocker Kathryn Caine, who was named to the 2014 Preseason All-ACC Team after receiving AVCA All-America Honorable Mention and All-ACC third team honors a year ago.
• Sophomore outside hitter Lindsey Owens, a member of the 2013 ACC All-Freshman Team, also returns and was named to the all-tournament team last weekend after leading the Hokies with 3.18 kills per set. Owens had 13 kills with zero errors for a .520 hitting percentage in the sweep against the Shockers.
• Through three matches, Tech leads its opponents in hitting percentage (.257 to .239), kills per set (14.09 to 13.00), assists (13.36 to 11.36) and digs (13.45 to 12.18). Opponents lead in aces, (1.45 to 1.09) and blocks (2.18 to 2.00).
• Chris Riley (Jacksonville University, 1995) is in his eighth season as head coach of the Hokies.
TEXAS A&M NOTES:
Freshman Recruiting Class Recognized:
Texas A&M volleyball’s incoming freshman class received honorable mention in Volleyball Magazine’s list of the nation’s top 10 recruiting classes. A&M is the only Texas school mentioned in the listing, which recognized 15 classes as honorable mention in addition to the top-10 ranked teams. High school All-Americans Stephanie Aiple (6-1, S), and Ashlie Reasor (6-1, OPP) headline the Aggies’ six-member incoming freshman class, which was ranked 17th in the nation by Prepvolleyball.com earlier this year. Kiara McGee (5-11, OH), Amy Nettles (5-4, L), Olivia Thorpe (5-11, OH) and Uche Ukadike (5-11, MB) complete the heralded class.
SEC Preseason Poll:
Texas A&M, which tied for sixth place in the SEC standings last season with a 10-8 mark, is picked to finish sixth this year, according to a preseason vote of the league coaches. Florida is picked to win the team championship, having received the maximum 12 first-place votes for 144 points. Kentucky is projected to finish second, having received 129 points. Defending SEC champion Missouri received the only other first-place vote and is picked to place third with 114 total points, followed by LSU (105 points) and Alabama (102 points). A&M received 89 points and Arkansas is seventh with 87 points. Georgia (65 points), Auburn (54), Ole Miss (50) and Tennessee (33). South Carolina (29) and Mississippi State (13) round out the 13-team poll. Vanderbilt does not sponsor volleyball.
Sullivan Named to Preseason All-SEC Team:
Texas A&M junior middle blocker Shelby Sullivan was named to the 2014 Preseason Volleyball All-SEC Team, announced by the conference office earlier this month. Sullivan, who earned All-SEC Team honors as a sophomore after hitting .386 and averaging 2.75 kills per set, is one of nine members on the star-studded team, which was voted on by the league’s 13 head coaches. Coaches were not allowed to vote for their own players. Preseason league-favorite Florida led all schools with three selected to the team: Alex Holston, Živa Recek and Taylor Unroe. Others named to the preseason team are Carly Kan and Whitney Little of Missouri, Krystal Rivers of Alabama, Brianna Holman from LSU and Kentucky’s Morgan Bergren, who is the only player on the 2014 preseason team who was not on the 2013 season-ending All-SEC Team.
A Look at the Season Schedule:
A&M is scheduled to play seven matches against teams currently ranked in the top 20 of the AVCA Top 25 poll, including a four-match stretch that includes contests against No. 6 USC, No. 15 San Diego at the USC Classic in Los Angeles, followed by back-to-back matches against No. 8 Florida State, Sept. 19-20 in College Station during the pre-conference season. A&M will play three matches against SEC teams currently listed in the top 20: No. 11 Florida, and two matches against No. 16 Kentucky. Five matches are scheduled against opponents receiving votes in the poll: Arkansas, Missouri and UTSA.
Miscellaneous Team Facts:
· A&M has used the same starting lineup in all three matches – Kaysie Shebeneck at setter, middle blockers Jazzmin Babers and Shelby Sullivan, outside hitters Angela Lowak and Emily Hardesty, and opposite hitter Ashlie Reasor. Victoria Arenas has been the designated libero to start all three matches.
· A&M’s 34 block assists against UTSA equals the fourth most block assists in program history and is the most in a match since the 25-point scoring format went into effect in 2008.
· Texas A&M is outhitting its opponents, .240 to .128, and also is outblocking its advisories 3.09 to 1.73.
· All 15 players saw action in the sweep against Tulane, and every front row player had at least one kill, including freshman Olivia Thorpe, who made her career debut, and senior Sydney Wilhelm, who also was playing in her first collegiate match.
· Outside hitter Angela Lowak was named the MVP of the Texas A&M Invitational. The junior led the Aggies in kills in two of three matches last weekend and leads the A&M starters with 2.67 kills per set. Lowak also leads the Aggies with 0.36 aces per set, bolstered by a career-high three-ace performance against Iowa. Lowak is averaging 3.18 digs per set, second best on the team, and had a career-high 23 digs against UTSA.
· Freshman opposite hitter Ashlie Reasor was named to the Texas A&M Invitational all-tournament team after averaging 2.36 kills, 3.05 points and 1.0 blocks per set. The lefty had a person-best nine blocks against UTSA.
· Middle blocker Jazzmin Babers hails from Bowling Green, Ohio, and her father, Dino Babers, is in his first season as head football coach of the Bowling Green State University Falcons.
· Babers is coming off a career performance against UTSA, posting personal bests with 11 kills and 14 total blocks to notch her first-ever double-double, as well as A&M’s first double-double of the season. Babers not only led the tournament field with a 2.0 block average per set, but the redshirt sophomore also led all players in the tournament with a .474 hitting percentage, committing no errors while posting 18 kills in 38 attempts.
· Sophomore Kaysie Shebeneck, who started five matches as a freshman at the opposite hitter position, made her first-ever start at setter in the season opener last weekend and has started all three matches at the position. She averaged 9.00 assists per set, as well as 1.56 digs, 0.78 blocks, 1.56 points and 0.89 blocks per set.
· Middle blockers Jazzmin Babers and Shelby Sullivan, both AVCA All-South Region honorable mention in 2013, started every match last season, and after starting the first three matches of 2014, they have now each appeared in 34 consecutive starting lineups. Sullivan has played in 122 consecutive sets.
· Sophomore libero Victoria Arenas, who had a career-high and team-high 28 digs against UTSA, leads A&M and is sixth in the SEC with 4.18 digs per set. Arenas also led the team with 15 digs in the season-opening sweep against Iowa.
· Redshirt sophomore Darby Graff appeared in a combined three sets against both Iowa and Tulane and has posted eight kills with zero errors in 14 attempts for a .571 hitting percentage. She is averaging 2.67 kills, 1.33 blocks and 3.50 points per set.
· Freshman defensive specialist Amy Nettles has appeared in six sets and is 100 percent in service receptions with 10 attempts.
· Freshman setter Stephanie Aiple was averaging a team-best 9.67 assists per set before suffering a deep shoulder bruise following a hard collision with a teammate and the standard during the Tulane match. She is probable for this weekend.
· Outside hitter/middle blocker Shelbi Vaughan will redshirt and focus on track and field. The 6-2 junior was the NCAA champion in the discus in 2014.
Tournament Schedule (*all times are CT)
Friday, September 5
3 p.m. VCU vs. Virginia Tech
6 p.m. Texas A&M vs. Ohio
Saturday, September 6
9 a.m. Texas A&M vs. Virginia Tech
11 a.m. VCU vs. Ohio
4 p.m. Texas A&M vs. VCU
6 p.m. Ohio vs. Virginia Tech
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