COLLEGE STATION -- The Texas A&M volleyball team closes out its spring competition schedule Saturday, as the Aggies participate in the 3rd Annual Texas Tornados College Spring Tournament at the Texas Tornados Training Facility in Houston.
A&M will be going against its toughest competition of the spring during the one-day tournament as the Aggies’ four opponents – including Southern California, which advanced to the NCAA Final Four and ranked No. 3 in the final AVCA Top 25 Poll – posted a combined 103-27 record in the fall.
“This tournament is one of the tougher competitions in the nation in the spring season,” A&M coach Laurie Corbelli said. “We will be going up against totally different styles, which will be really good for our team because we will be able to work on adapting to some things that we don’t see every day. The teams also provide a challenge for us from a size standpoint.”
The Aggies open against South Florida at 9 a.m. and return to the court at 11 a.m. to take on Wichita State, a team that advanced to the second round of the 2007 NCAAs.
At 2 p.m., A&M meets Tulane, which went 28-6 last season and narrowly missed out on an at-large berth to the NCAAs. The Aggies conclude the tournament against USC at 4 p.m.
“We have built up our last couple of tournaments with teams that are good, solid programs,” Corbelli said. “The same will go for the Tornados Tournament, very quality teams, and then we play one of the best programs in the nation to finish it off. To go against a Final Four team in the final match of our season, it kind of feels like it is a championship tournament for us, a real championship finale. It is exciting.”
A total of 24 teams, including defending national champion Penn State, will be competing on six different courts at the tournament. In addition to A&M, Baylor, Kansas State, Oklahoma and Texas will be representing the Big 12 Conference.
All matches are best 2-out-of-3 sets to 25 points, with the third set played to 15 points.
Last weekend, the Aggies made a strong finish to win their own tournament despite getting off to a slow start in pool play.
“We learned that getting the serve receive going, establishing our rhythm and just getting that momentum is really what it is going to be about for us,” Corbelli said. “A strong start can lead to so much of a better opportunity to get the win.
“With the games now going to only 25 points, the serving and passing game is even more important. The impact of a missed serve or a pass that is not producing offense is just so critical to your momentum from the beginning. You don’t have much time to establish your rhythm.
“If you get a weak start in these 25-point sets, you’re constantly scratching and clawing to come back, and the next thing, you turn around and it is over.”
Although the Tornados Tournament is the final competition for the Aggies this spring, they will host a 2008 Volleyball Preview on April 19 from 3-5 p.m. at G. Rollie White Coliseum, in conjunction with the full day of activities preceding football’s Maroon & White Scrimmage. More details will be posted soon.
For a complete schedule of the Tornados College Spring Tournament, in addition to ticket information and directions to the facility go to: http://www.texastornados.org/Facility/Default.aspx