COLLEGE STATION, Texas – Texas A&M played nearly flawless volleyball while posting a convincing 3-1 (25-16, 24-26, 25-18, 25-16) victory against 16th-ranked BYU to capture the Texas A&M Invitational title with a 3-0 record at G. Rollie White Coliseum.
It was quite the turnaround for the Aggies (3-3), who were constantly frustrated last weekend after opening the season with three consecutive losses at the Bluejay Invitational. Meanwhile, BYU suffered its first loss of the season to fall to 5-1.
“This weekend was really good for us, because we just proved to ourselves really that we are capable of being a top team,” said Aggie outside hitter Sarah Ammerman, who was named to the all-tournament team after tallying a match-high 17 kills. She completed a double-double with 10 digs.
The Aggies scored the first three points and led the entire first set. Up 8-6, A&M went on a 7-1 run to go up 15-7. BYU got within 16-10 when tournament MVP Mary Batis pounded three consecutive kills. Kelsey Bryant, who also was named to the all-tournament team, then got a kill on an overpass and teamed with Batis for a block to give A&M its largest lead at 21-10. The Cougars rallied late, outscoring A&M 6-2, before the Aggies got back-to-back blocks to end the set.
BYU, which was out-hit by the Aggies in each set, appeared in command of the second set as the Cougars used a five-point run to build a 10-4 lead. A&M clawed its way back, eventually tying the score at 23 following a five-point run capped by a Batis kill. Bryn Porter ended A&M’s rally with a kill but then served into the net to knot the score at 24. Ashton Hosford came back with a kill for BYU and teammate and all-tournament selection Kayla Walker tooled the block for a kill to win the set and even the match.
There were six ties and five lead changes in the third set before A&M began to methodically pull away. Batis was unstoppable, pounding six kills and no errors in seven attempts. And when Batis wasn’t attacking, Ammerman was blasting balls off of opponents’ faces. Kristen Schevikhoven kept BYU out of system with tough serving and also was able to give her attackers across the net open looks thanks to the pin-point passing of the likes of Jennifer Banse and freshman libero Chelsea Ringel.
“It was definitely a complete, 100-percent team effort,” Ammerman said. “Everybody stepped up and played, did their role, did their job. I don’t think we deserve all-tournament any more than anyone else does, because without everybody doing their jobs, we could have never accomplished what we did.”
Batis also credited the crowd of 1,308 for bolstering the team.
“Every game is always amazing at the ‘Holler House’,” she said. “It felt so great to be at home. I know that we just had that much more energy and that much more adrenaline thanks to the 12th Man.”
The Aggies were scoring in runs of three in the second half of the third set, including a three-point run to end the set. With A&M leading 22-18, middle blocker Darla Donaldson caught BYU off guard by attacking the second ball for a kill, and Schevikhoven aced her serve to put the Aggies at set point. A&M got the set winner on the ensuing play when BYU was called for a ball handling error.
A&M never trailed in the fourth set, and BYU got its only tie of the frame on the second play as A&M hit into the net. The Aggies played the final set much like the third set, reeling off series of points to pull away. BYU managed only four kills in the entire set and committed five errors for a -.037 hitting percentage.
Donaldson put the Aggies up, 24-16 with a kill, and BYU had an attack error to give A&M the win.
A&M outhit BYU, .294 to .133 for the set, posting 60 kills to the Cougars’ 43.
After last weekend’s disappointing performance which Corbelli described as “being in another world,” the Aggies gained tremendous confidence in their execution this weekend and intend to build on the momentum.
“(This tournament) gave us the confidence to get us rolling,” Corbelli said. “Playing some high quality teams…I thought American was a really strong team. Siena played good defense but they just didn’t have the size, and BYU is a ranked team. We are seeing a ranked team once a week in the Big 12. It is just going to be the same type of blocking, some of the speed that we are going to have to use against the Big 12 teams. Definitely the defense we will have to use. It was just a real good warm up for what we are going to see a lot of in the next two weeks.”
The Aggies return home Tuesday to play host to Texas State. Match time is 6:30 p.m. at G. Rollie White Coliseum. A&M then closes out non-conference play at the University of San Diego Tournament, Sept 12-13, before opening Big 12 play at Iowa State on Sept. 17.
2008 Texas A&M Invitational Summary
September 5-6, 2008 – College Station, Texas
1. Texas A&M 3-0
2. BYU 2-1
3. American 1-2
4. Siena 0-3
Mary Batis, Texas A&M (MVP)
Kelsey Bryant, Texas A&M
Sarah Ammerman, Texas A&M
Kayla Walker, BYU
Rachel Dyer, BYU
Rubena Sukaj, American
Burgandy McCurty, Siena
Friday, September 5, 2008
No. 16 BYU def. Siena 25-13, 24-26, 25-9, 25-20
Texas A&M def. American 21-25, 25-14, 25-21, 25-17
Saturday, September 6, 2008
No. 16 BYU def. American 25-22, 22-25, 25-23, 25-15
Texas A&M def. Siena 25-17, 26-24, 25-16
American def. Siena 25-16, 25-14, 25-21
Texas A&M def. No. 16 BYU 25-16, 24-26, 25-18, 25-16
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