COLLEGE STATION, Texas – Texas A&M picked up its first sweep of the season, defeating Siena, 25-17, 26-24, 25-16 today at the Texas A&M Invitational at G. Rollie White Coliseum.
Mary Batis led the Aggies with 14 kills and tied Jennifer Banse for team-high honors with nine digs. Sarah Ammerman pitched in 12 kills, and Kelsey Bryant had a match-high six blocks to lead A&M to an 8-3 advantage in blocks.
“We knew this match was going to be more about our execution and hitting high,” A&M coach Laurie Corbelli said. “You have to really play fundamentally sound volleyball when you are playing a smaller team, a scrappy-type team. They come to swing hard at your block, so your block has to be really disciplined. It is not as easy to play a team like this as it might look because of the different angles and the smaller reach, but they have to have other shots that get them out of a rally. They use those against you, and they are things we don’t see that often.”
A&M, which never trailed in the opening set, used a five-point run to pull away from a 2-2 tie, the only tie of the set. Setter Kristen Schevikhoven led the Aggies on another five-point run later in the set, posting back-to-back aces during the rally to give A&M its biggest lead at 18-7. The Saints never got closer than six points before Bryant put down a kill to end the set.
In the second set, it was Siena that used a six-point rally to take an early 7-3 lead. A&M came back to tie the score, 8-8, when the teams began trading point for point. At 13-13, Siena got a kill and A&M had consecutive kill errors as the Saints built a little bit of breathing room. The Aggies, however, continued to chip away, and a kill by Ammerman knotted the score at 19-19. A&M tied the score again at 20-all following a kill by Banse and then took its first lead since 3-2 on a Batis kill.
Siena was whistled for a ball handling error on the next play, and Banse got a kill to put the Aggies up, 23-21. Siena tied the score for the 11th time in the set at 23-23 and again at 24-all before Batis notched her eighth kill of the set and then teamed with Bryant for a block to end the set and give the Aggies a 2-0 lead going into the break.
A&M reeled off five unanswered points early in the third set to build a 6-2 advantage. The Aggies never looked back as eleven Aggies saw action in the set, including freshman middle blocker Stephanie Wells, who got on the court for the first time in her young career.
“It is always nice to get young players in or players that don’t see the court as much,” Corbelli said. “They all put in so many hours and so much work, and it is a nice reward. I feel like the depth that we have, I have some really strong athletes behind our starting lineup, and I really hope to get them on the floor more as the season goes along.”
The Aggies ran off strings of points several times, taking their biggest lead at 21-9. With A&M up 24-16, Ammerman got a kill from the back row to clinch the victory for the Aggies.
A&M out-hit Siena, .272 to .130, for the match, holding the Saints to a match-low .069 in the final set.
“I’m really happy with our passing right now,” Corbelli said. “There have been lots of matches where we have struggled with our passing. It has been very inconsistent, and I feel like right now may be one of the most consistent times that we have been able to produce a three pass or a two pass, one after the next without an ace here or there. We are really able to push the ball up and get ‘Schevi’ in position to run a good, strong attack.”
The Aggies (2-3) remain undefeated in the tournament and will play undefeated and 16th-ranked BYU (5-0) tonight at 6:30 p.m. for the tournament title. The Cougars defeated American, 3-1, earlier in the day.
Siena (0-4) was led by Burgandy McCurty, who had 12 kills. The Saints conclude the tournament with a 4:30 p.m. match against American (1-4).