COLLEGE STATION, Texas – Texas A&M put up a fight but was unable to keep No. 7 Texas from extending its winning streak to five, as the Longhorns came out on top in a 30-25, 30-28, 30-25 decision against the Aggies in a State Farm Lone Star Showdown at G. Rollie White Coliseum.
A mostly maroon-clad crowd of 3,382 -- the fifth largest home crowd in A&M volleyball history -- came to support the Aggies in the match that was nationally televised by ESPNU.
“It was pretty unbelievable to look up and see so much maroon’” A&M coach Laurie Corbelli said. “The Longhorn team knows that there is no where else they’ll ever go that has that kind of atmosphere. I think they even decided to embrace it and enjoy being able to play in front of a crowd like that. It’s the most special place to play volleyball.
“The 12th Man should be awarded a few of those points when the other team shanks a ball or the other team over passes back to us or even misses their serve. It is really fun, and we are lucking we have them on our side.”
Texas had Juliann Faucette on its side. The candidate for National Freshman of the Year led all players with 20 kills while hitting .395. Lauren Paolini and Destinee Hooker added 13 kills apiece as Texas improved to 9-3 overall and 5-1 in the Big 12.
Sarah Ammerman led the Aggies with 17 kills, and Mary Batis and Jillian Phillips added 13 and 12 respectively.
As a team, Texas totaled 63 kills and hit .352 for the match. A&M (12-5, 2-5 Big 12) had 46 kills and was held to a .238 hitting percentage, although A&M outblocked the Longhorns, 10-6.
“It’s a game of unforced errors, and we made too many,” Corbelli said. “We didn’t get as many kills as they did, period.
“They have the two left sides (Faucette and Hooker) who really crank. They are probable All-Americans out there who hit from a high, high point, and they have a lot of range. We are a little bit more dependent on being in system.”
There were 11 ties and five lead changes in the first game. A&M held its last lead at 11-10 when Texas reeled off three unanswered points to go up 13-11. A&M tied the score at 13 on a kill by Batis, but an A&M service error and an attack error prevented the Aggies from regaining the lead. Texas went up 19-15, but A&M managed to cut the gap to two points five times, the last coming at 27-25. Faucette, who had nine kills in the frame, put down back-to-back kills, and A&M’s next attack sailed long to give the Longhorns the 30-25 win.
Game two was a back-and-forth affair with nine lead changes and 15 ties, but it would be the Longhorns who would go into intermission with a two-game lead. Texas had taken a 24-23 lead on a kill by Faucette, but a Longhorn service error tied the game. Phillips then gave the Aggies the lead, punishing the Longhorns for an errant pass by putting down an overpass for a kill. Ammerman followed with a kill to put the Aggies up, 26-24, forcing a Texas timeout. The Longhorns came out of the timeout and scored four consecutive points, three courtesy of A&M errors. The teams then exchanged point for point until Hooker put down the game-winning kill.
“I was really pleased with a lot in the first two games,” Corbelli said. “The first two games were a lot of serving and passing. Our serving was aggressive, which I was really pleased with. We were taking them out of system and getting some aces and overpasses. We never gave up runs and runs of points until the end of that second game when we really needed to compete and score.”
The score was tied at 9-9 in the third game, when Texas reeled off seven consecutive points. The Longhorns later used a five-point run to build their biggest lead of the match at 23-13. The Aggies managed to cut the lead to four at 29-25, before Faucette clinched the match for Texas with a kill.
“That rotation we struggle in,” Corbelli said when describing the seven-point run. “They got a tough server in, and we couldn’t get a ball off to get a big swing and put the ball away. I tried to make a sub or two. I thought that helped a little bit, but it was execution.
“The fighting back to 25 was important for us to do that. I felt like our blocking is really improving. Our passing is improving. Our serve was even better than it has been. I’m encouraged. The hardest part for me is our last few matches we have had our middles and rights just dominating, and our lefts have struggled. Now our lefts were hot tonight, and our middle and right wasn’t as hot as a whole as it has been. I just told the team, ‘Man when all of you guys come to play like that team had mostly everybody on, were right there.’ We’ve got to get all of our pieces together at the right time, and I’m not really that worried about it.”
The Aggies hit the road for the next two matches, taking on Kansas, Saturday at 7 p.m. at the Horejsi Family Athletics Center in Lawrence, Kan., and then heading to Columbia, Mo., to face the Missouri Tigers, Wednesday, Oct. 10 at 6:30 p.m. a Hearnes Center.