A&M Volleyball Takes on Kansas Saturday in Lawrence

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COLLEGE STATION -- Texas A&M and Kansas each will be looking to end a two-match losing skid when the two teams meet Saturday. First serve is slated for 7 p.m. at the Horejsi Family Athletics Center in Lawrence, Kan.

A&M (12-5, 2-5 Big 12) dropped its second consecutive match Wednesday, falling to No. 7 Texas, 30-25, 30-28, 30-25, in College Station. It also was the second straight match against a ranked opponent for the Aggies, who had fallen to Kansas State, 3-1, at G. Rollie White Coliseum on Friday.

Kansas (9-7, 2-4 Big 12) was swept by Iowa State, 30-24, 30-25, 30-19, in Ames on Wednesday. It was the second consecutive sweep suffered by the Jayhawks, who had previously dropped a three-game decision to No. 1 Nebraska.

The Jayhawks are tied with Missouri for sixth place in the Big 12, a half game ahead of A&M and Baylor, who are tied for eighth. All four of Kansas’ losses have been against teams that have also tagged A&M with a loss - Iowa State, Kansas State, Nebraska and Oklahoma.

LOOKING AT THE AGGIES

Sarah Ammerman, a sophomore outside hitter, leads A&M with 3.94 kills and 4.42 points per game for the full season. Mary Batis, also a sophomore outside hitter, is the leader in digs and aces with 3.45 and 0.38 per game, respectively, and ranks second on the team with 3.21 kills and 3.89 points per game.

Junior middle blocker Jillian Phillips, named the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week on Monday, is averaging a team-leading 1.40 blocks per game for the full season and ranks third in the Big 12 with a 1.58 block average in conference games only. Phillips and senior middle Kelly Stanton lead the Aggies and are ranked fourth and fifth in the league in hitting percentage, hitting .390 and .377, respectively, for the full season.

Sophomore setter Kristen Schevikhoven is averaging 11.02 assists per game overall.

As a team, A&M is outhitting its opponents, .275 to .179, for the full season but is being outhit, .261 to .199 in Big 12 matches only. A&M leads the Big 12 with 3.15 blocks per conference game only.

LOOKING AT THE Jayhawks

Kansas (9-7, 2-4 Big 12) had a five-match winning streak from Sept. 1 to Sept. 8 but has lost four of six matches since then. The Jayhawks, who rank last in the league in hitting percentage (.178), assist average (12.24) and kills per game (13.48) are coming off a 30-24, 30-25, 30-19 loss at Iowa State on Wednesday. The Cyclones had 63 kills and hit .378 for the match, while Kansas was held to 37 kills and a .194 hitting percentage.

Junior Savannah Noyes leads the Jayhawks with 2.57 kills per game while hitting at a .301 clip in conference games only. Senior Emily Brown, who recently became the 10th player in KU history to join the 1,000-Kill Club, is second on the team with 2.52 kills per game in league games only.

The Jayhawks need only one victory to tie their total wins last season. A Big 12 win also will give them their third conference victory of the season, the same number they totaled in the entire 2006 season.

Ray Bechard (Fort Hays State, 1980) is 157-134 in his 10th season at the helm of the Jayhawks. He has led the program to the NCAA tournament three of the last four years.

THE A&M-KU ALL-TIME SERIES

A&M leads the all-time series, 19-4. KU, however, has won the last four matches played in Lawrence. The teams have split the season series each of the last four years. A&M is 7-4 all-time in Lawrence and a perfect 12-0 against the Jayhawks in College Station.

Last season, the Aggies, who at times had five freshmen on the court, came within a point of taking their first Big 12 win of the season and ending a three-match losing streak in Lawrence, but the Jayhawks fought off two match points in the decisive fifth game to take a 28-30, 30-26, 30-28, 29-31, 17-15 victory.

Christi Hahn and Sarah Ammerman led the Aggies with 20 and 19 kills, respectively. Ammerman posted a team-leading 18 digs, and Mary Batis also recorded a double-double with 15 kills and 16 digs. Freshman Courtnee Rhodes was making her first start as setter after junior starting setter Meghan Kainz, who had started every match going into the KU match, was ruled unable to compete and took a medical hardship.

Jana Correa and Emily Brown led the Jayhawks with 24 kills apiece, and Savannah Noyes added 22.

A&M kept Kansas winless in 12 visits to College Station with a 30-28, 30-24, 30-23 victory at G. Rollie White Coliseum. Batis led A&M with 11 kills and 13 digs.

Noyes and Brown led KU with 11 and 10 kills respectively as the Jayhawks posted 43 total kills to A&M’s 41. The Jayhawks, however, were held to a .130 hitting percentage as the Aggies outblocked KU, 8-2.

A&M QUICK HITS

• Junior middle blocker Jillian Phillips was named the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week (Oct. 1) for the first time in her career after totaling 15 blocks in seven games for a team-leading 2.14 blocks per game last week. Phillips, from Marble Falls, Texas, also led the Aggies with 4.14 points per game and a .444 hitting percentage for the week, and was second on the team with 2.86 kills per game.

Phillips had a career-high 10 blocks against Kansas State — including a career-high three solo blocks — to become the first A&M player to reach double figures in blocks this season. She also added nine kills while hitting .471 against the Wildcats.

Phillips tied for match-high honors with five blocks in a 3-0 victory at Baylor. She also tallied team-highs of 13.5 points and 11 kills while hitting at a .421 clip against the Bears.

For the season, Phillips leads the Aggies with a .390 hitting percentage and 1.40 blocks per game for the full season, as well as a .355 hitting efficiency and a 1.58 block average in Big 12 matches only.

• Freshman middle blocker Bre Lewis is returning to her home state this weekend. The Topeka, Kan., native was a standout in both volleyball and basketball at Seaman High School in Topeka, and also played club ball for Topeka Juniors HEAT.

• Sophomore Sarah Ammerman has reached double figures in kills in a team-leading 13 matches. She has recorded a double-double in five of the last seven matches, including 22 kills and a career-high 21 digs against Oklahoma, marking the first 20-20 performance of her career. Ammerman had 21 kills against Texas Tech to mark the second time in a three-match span that she posted 20-plus kills. Last year, Ammerman had two 20-plus kill performances in the entire season.

• Sophomore Mary Batis has reached double figures in digs in a team-leading 10 matches and also leads the Aggies with seven double-doubles.

• The Aggies tied the A&M record for most block assists in a match at G. Rollie against No. 18 Kansas State, posting 34 on Sept. 28. The record was first set on Nov. 25, 1994, in a five-game loss to No. 8 BYU and tied Oct. 16, 2005, in a five-game loss to Colorado. Nebraska holds the all-time G. Rollie record with 36 block assists in a four-game victory against the Aggies on Nov. 8, 2000.

UPCOMING SCHEDULE

The Aggies conclude the first half of Big 12 play with a pair of matches next week. A&M travels to Columbia, Mo., to face the Missouri Tigers Wednesday, Oct. 10. First serve against Missouri is 6:30 p.m. at Hearnes Center. The Aggies then return home to host Colorado, Saturday, Oct. 13. Match time is 6:30 p.m. at G. Rollie White Coliseum.