AMES, Iowa – Texas A&M dropped its Big 12 season opener, falling to the Iowa State Cyclones, 25-16, 25-11, 26-24, tonight at Hilton Coliseum.
The Aggies, who were held to a season-low .062 hitting percentage, fall to 5-6 overall after suffering their third consecutive loss, as well as their third straight loss at ISU. The Cyclones win their fourth consecutive match to improve to 9-3 on the season.
A&M struggled in the first set and quickly fell behind 12-9. The Aggies then reeled off three unanswered points to tie the score, but an A&M attack error marked the start of a six-point run for the Cyclones. A&M, which was outhit, .200 to .025 in the set, could get no closer than 21-16 before ISU ran off four straight points to close out the frame.
A&M’s woes continued in the second set as the Aggies were outhit .588 to -.033. ISU used a five-point run to break away from a 4-4 tie. The Aggies went on a 5-2 run to get within 11-9, but it was all ISU for the remainder of the set. ISU scored five straight points as A&M once again struggled to avoid the Cyclone block or keep the its attacks in bounds. Jennifer Banse ended the rally with a kill, and the teams traded side outs. Up 17-11, the Cyclones erupted for eight consecutive points, including two service aces by Ashley Mass to cap the set.
A&M coach Laurie Corbelli shook up the lineup in the third set with Jola Kelner starting at setter, freshman Kelsey Black starting on the left side and Dylan Faulkner playing libero for the first time this season. The switch brought a spark to the Aggies as they used a seven-point run to build a 13-6 lead. ISU, which had not trailed by more than a point in the entire match until the Aggies made their run, fought back and regained the lead at 18-17 as Victoria Hanson put down one of her 18 kills of the match. A&M tied the score three times before Faulkner made a diving save in the back court and Black tipped the ball over for a kill to put the Aggies up, 21-20. Back-to-back kills by Mary Bisenius put the Cyclones back on top, but Sarah Ammerman answered with a kill, and Black and Bryant got a block to put A&M in the lead once again.
The teams exchanged points and A&M was at set point, 24-23 following a kill by Kelsey Bryant. The Aggies, however, were unable to force a fourth set as the Cyclones had two kills to go up, 25-24. A&M’s next attack sailed wide to end the match.
Black led the Aggies with seven kills. Banse and Chelsea Ringel led A&M in digs with seven each, and Donaldson posted a team-high four blocks.
Mass led ISU with 18 digs, marking her 38th consecutive match to reach double figures in digs. Henson, the only player on either team to reach double-digit kills, hit .441 to lead ISU to a .214-.062 advantage in hitting percentage.
The Aggies return home Sunday to host Oklahoma. First serve is 2 p.m. at G. Rollie White Coliseum. Stacy Sykora, A&M’s first-ever three-time Olympian and a silver medalist at the 2008 Beijing Games, will be in attendance and will sign autographs following the match.
It also will be “Fish Camp Day” at the Holler House, and any student wearing a Fish Camp shirt will be admitted free. Fans presenting a ticket stub from the A&M-Miami football game will be admitted for $2.
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