COLLEGE STATION - Sarah Ammerman pounded 22 kills and Kelly Stanton tied her career high with 16 kills to help lead Texas A&M to a crucial 30-18, 28-30, 36-34, 30-27 victory over Iowa State in front of 1,364 today at G. Rollie White Coliseum.
A&M snaps a three-match losing skid against ISU and improves to 18-7 overall and 7-7 in the Big 12. In addition, the Aggies move within one game of the Cyclones, who are 14-10 overall and in fifth place in the Big 12 standings with an 8-6 league mark.
“This was a huge win against a team that is ahead of us in the running in the Big 12 standings and a team that is very solid and has had a lot of success thus far in their season and in the Big 12,” A&M coach Laurie Corbelli said. “It was really an important win and an important match for us. I was just really proud of the team and the effort and the execution.”
A&M used a three-point run to break a 2-2 tie early in the first game and held off ISU for the remainder of the game. The Cyclones stayed within striking distance at 12-9, when A&M went on a 7-1 scoring run to widen the gap to 19-10. ISU, which was outhit, .366 to .200 in the game, got back within six at 22-14, but Ammerman, who had seven kills in the game, put down three consecutive kills, and Jenny Banse followed with a kill from the back row to give A&M its biggest lead at 26-14. The teams then traded point for point for the remainder of the game, with Kelsey Bryant recording the game-winning kill for the Aggies.
A&M overcame a 24-17 deficit in the second game and tied the score at 27-all, but an A&M attack error and a kill by ISU’s Lauren Cummings put the Cyclones serving for the game at 29-27. Ammerman kept the Aggies in the game with a kill, but Cummings answered with her seventh kill of the game to even the match at a game apiece.
ISU overcame an early seven-point deficit in the third game and, other than a 1-0 lead to begin the game, took its first lead at 22-21 after running off six consecutive points. The Cyclones built their biggest lead at 26-23 and were up 28-26 when Mary Batis posted back-to-back kills to even the score at 28. A&M then took the lead and was at game point courtesy of an ISU attack error but then served into the net. It was the first of four game points the Cyclones would fight off before taking the lead at 33-32 on a kill by Cummings. Luck went to the Aggies on the ensuing play as a back-row attack by Banse hit the tape and then narrowly rolled over the top of the net and fell on the Cyclones’ side for a kill and a 33-33 tie. Bryant followed with a kill to put the Aggies serving for the game, but Cummings responded with her seventh kill of the game to tie the score for the 11th time. Ammerman answered with her seventh kill and then step to the service line. Her jump serve dropped untouched on the back line for an ace to cap a wild finish and give A&M a 2-1 game lead.
“We have really struggled at end of games, just finishing,” Corbelli said, “and it’s really a big statement the way I could see it in the team, the way that they were not going to lose. They had this determination about them for the most part that just was really evident to me.”
Jillian Phillips posted a solo block to give A&M a 2-1 lead in game four. The Aggies never trailed the remainder of the game, but ISU stayed within striking distance and tied the score at 19-19 on an A&M attack error. Batis then blasted a kill down the ISU block, and Bryant followed with back-to-back kills to put A&M ahead, 22-19. ISU had an attack sail wide to give the Aggies a 23-19 lead, but the Cyclones climbed back to within two points at 24-22. Stanton put down a kill, and then she and setter Kristen Schevikhoven had back-to-back solo blocks to give the Aggies their biggest lead at 27-22. After trading sideouts, A&M was serving for the match at 29-24, but ISU scored three straight points to get within 29-27 and force an A&M timeout. ISU’s comeback hopes evaporated when Ammerman stuffed Cummings for the match-winning point.
A&M hit .247 for the match with 79 kills. The Aggies also posted seven aces and a season-high 14 blocks. ISU was held to a .168 hitting percentage with 38 kills, three aces and 10 blocks.
“I thought our serve receive offense was really hard to stop,” Corbelli said. “We saw that we were isolating a lot of blockers on their side and able to have a lot of open court to hit out, but I thought it was very even for most of the match. When we did get our offense going in consecutive rallies, I thought that we really felt that momentum and were able to capitalize on that.
“We’ve been trying to install some new plays in our offense and kind tweak the way we approach the offense and more of a team rhythm, and I thought tonight that [Schevikhoven] just really executed it beautifully, and the hitters were committed to it and made it work. It was really fun to coach the team tonight.”
Ammerman also led a group of four Aggie players who reached double figures in digs with 15. Batis and Schevikhoven, who had 59 assists, added 14 digs apiece, and Jen Moore pitched in 12.
“Our two passers, Mary and Jen, were pretty incredible,” Corbelli said. “They have improved so much since the beginning of the season. We can’t really do anything without that first touch being accurate and on target, or at least close. They just stayed confident and they moved well. Those two touches to me really dictate so much of what we do.
“Our defense has improved as well. We’ve had a few matches where our defense concerned me. But I think today, they had a little more confidence. They’ve worked out some of the kinks. They started to work it out on the court on their own. That was really helpful for the win.”
Cummings led ISU with 20 kills and Jen Malcom and Erin Boeve added 12 each. Ashley Mass led all players with 25 digs.
The Aggies now hit the road to face back-to-back ranked opponents. A&M takes on No. 13 Kansas State Wednesday in Manhattan, Kan., in a match that will be televised by Fox Sports Midwest. Match time is 7 p.m. at Ahearn Field House. A&M then heads to Austin, Texas, on Friday to take on co-Big 12 leader and No. 3-ranked Texas in the State Farm Lone Star Showdown. First serve is at 6:30 p.m. at Gregory Gym.