Aggies Host Defending National Champion, Big 12 Co-Leader Nebraska

By  | 

COLLEGE STATION – The Texas A&M volleyball team (18-9, 7-9 Big 12) returns home to play host to defending national champion and No. 2-ranked Nebraska (23-1, 15-1 Big 12) Wednesday at G. Rollie White Coliseum. First serve is at 5:30 p.m.

It also will be MSC FISH 2011 Appreciation Night at the Holler House. There will be games, music and pizza for members of the Class of 2011 starting at 3:30 p.m. in front of G. Rollie. Following the match, the Yell Leaders will lead a spirit march to Reed Arena for the men’s basketball NIT game.

A&M’s match against the Huskers will be its third consecutive match against an opponent ranked No. 12 or above. The Aggies, who had won five of six matches before beginning the stretch against ranked opponents, fell in five games at No. 12 Kansas State and fell in four games at No. 3 Texas last week.

The Aggies are in seventh place in the Big 12 standings, one game behind Missouri, which A&M hosts on Saturday at 4:30 p.m. Nebraska is coming off a 3-0 victory at Iowa State on Sunday to remain in a tie with Texas for first place in the Big 12. The Huskers, whose only loss of the entire season was a three-game setback at Texas on Oct. 24, are currently riding a four-match winning streak.

LOOKING AT THE AGGIES

• A&M needs one win to reach the 20-win milestone for the first time since 2003, when the Aggies went 23-10 and advanced to the NCAA Sweet 16.

• With an 18-9 record, Texas A&M has already surpassed its total number of victories in each of the last two seasons and needs just one more win to equal the number of wins tallied by the 2004 team, which went 19-9, advanced to the NCAA Second Round and ranked No. 20 in the final rankings.

• The Aggies, who are 7-9 in Big 12 matches, also have easily surpassed their five total conference victories last season.

• As a team, A&M is listed fourth in the Big 12 in hitting percentage (.237) and digs (15.78) per game in conference matches only. In addition, the Aggies are listed fifth in kills (15.76), assists (14.41), aces (1.31) and blocks (2.83) per game.

• Setter Kristen Schevikhoven, who transferred after one year at the University of Northern Colorado, has made a huge impact on the Aggies’ success this season. She is averaging 11.7 assists per game while directing an A&M offense, which last week was ranked 11th in the nation and third in the Big 12 with a .281 hitting efficiency for the full season.

• Middle blockers Kelly Stanton and Jillian Phillips are hitting a team-leading .370 and .350, respectively, for the full season, ranking sixth and ninth in the Big 12.

• Outside hitter Sarah Ammerman has posted 20-plus kills in three of the last four matches. She leads A&M and ranks fifth in the Big 12 with 4.44 kills and 5.12 points per game in conference matches. Ammerman also is a threat from the service line, where she averages 0.42 aces per league game, ranking second in the conference.

• Outside hitter Mary Batis is the A&M leader in digs with 3.59 per conference game and ranks second on the team with 3.31 kills and 3.87 points per game in league play. Batis has reached double figures in digs in each of the last 10 matches and 20 matches overall.

LOOKING AT THE HUSKERS

Nebraska, which has won nine Big 12 titles in 11 years, is led by 2006 NCAA Player of the Year and three-time first-team All-American Sarah Pavan, who leads the league with 4.92 kills, 0.44 aces and 5.78 points per game for the full season.

Senior middle blocker and 2006 second-team All-American Tracy Stalls ranks second in the Big 12 with a .440 hitting percentage, and sophomore setter and 2006 third-team All-American Rachel Holloway leads the Huskers and ranks second in the league with 13.88 assists per game. Senior outside hitter Christina Houghtelling, a 2005 AVCA Player of the Year and first-team All-American is leading the Huskers in digs and ranks seventh in the Big 12 with 3.99 per game.

As a team, Nebraska entered last week ranked No. 3 in the nation with a .325 hitting percentage and ha since increased its hitting percentage to .330 after sweeping both Colorado and Iowa State.

The Huskers are holding opponents to a Big 12-best .159 hitting percentage and also lead the league with 18.09 kills, 16.69 assists and 16.69 digs per game for the full season.

John Cook (San Diego, 1979) is 243-15 in his eighth season as head coach at Nebraska and has led the Huskers to two NCAA titles (2000, 2006).

THE A&M-NEBRASKA ALL-TIME SERIES

Nebraska leads the all-time series, 26-6, and has won the last 16 meetings with the last eight ending in three-game sweeps. In addition, the Huskers are 21-2 against A&M in Big 12 matches only, having swept the season series each of the last seven years.

Nebraska’s two Big 12 losses to A&M occurred in 1998 and 1999, both at G. Rollie White. A&M’s most recent victory over the Huskers was a five-game match on Oct. 2, 1999, in College Station. It was the Aggies’ second consecutive home victory over the eighth-ranked Huskers. A&M had also upset No. 3 Nebraska in five games at G. Rollie White Coliseum in 1998.

In the most recent meeting, No. 1-ranked Nebraska posted its nation-leading 20th consecutive victory by topping A&M, 30-14, 30-20, 30-25, at Nebraska Coliseum on Sept. 15, 2007.

The defending national champion Huskers, who boast five All-Americans in their starting lineup, hit .350 while holding A&M to a season-low .124.

Sarah Ammerman led A&M with eight kills and 10 digs. Jordan Larson led the Huskers with 15 kills, and Sarah Pavan and Houghtelling added 12 and 11 kills, respectively. Rachel Schwartz led Nebraska in digs with 16.

UPCOMING SCHEDULE

The Aggies host Missouri in a crucial match Saturday at G. Rollie White Coliseum. The match has been changed to a 4:30 p.m. start to allow fans to also attend the NCAA second-round soccer match at 6 p.m. at the Aggie Soccer Complex.

In honor of Ring Day, anyone wearing his or her Aggie Ring to the volleyball match will be admitted free.

A&M concludes the regular season next week, playing at Colorado on Wednesday and returning home Saturday, Nov. 24 to host Baylor. It will be “Senior Night” at the Baylor match, and Aggie seniors Jen Moore and Kelly Stanton will be honored prior to the match.

NCAA SELECTION SHOW

The Aggies, who are in contention for a return to the NCAA Championships after their streak of 13 consecutive appearances ended last year, will find out their fate when the 64-team NCAA tournament field is announced Sunday, November 25 at 7 p.m. (CST) on ESPNU.