COLLEGE STATION -- Texas A&M (10-11, 5-6 Big 12) faces its first of three consecutive ranked opponents Wednesday as the Aggies take on No. 16 Kansas State in Manhattan, Kan. First serve is at 7 p.m. and will be televised live by FSN Kansas City. Brian Smoller will be calling the play-by-play and Patti Phillips will provide commentary.
The Aggies, who have won only once in 12 visits to Manhattan, began the second half of Big 12 Conference action with a 25-17, 25-14, 25-23 home victory against Kansas on Saturday. The win snapped a three-match losing skid by the Aggies, who are now tied with Colorado for sixth in the league standings and one win behind both Baylor and Iowa State.
Kansas State is in third place in the Big 12, two wins ahead of both the Bears and Cyclones. The Wildcats fell at Iowa State in five sets on Wednesday, snapping a three-match winning streak, and then narrowly defeated Baylor in Waco, taking the fifth set, 21-19.
Junior outside hitter Mary Batis, who reached the 1,000-career kill milestone in the Aggies’ last outing, leads the Aggies and ranks ninth in the Big 12 with 3.40 kills per set for the full season. Batis also leads the team and ranks 10th in the league with 3.79 points per set. In addition, Batis is A&M’s dig leader with 2.78 per set for the full season.
Junior outside hitter Sarah Ammerman leads the team with 0.21 aces per set and ranks second on the squad with 3.03 kills and 3.43 points per set.
Senior middle blocker Darla Donaldson leads the team and is ranked third in the Big 12 with 1.17 blocks per set in Big 12 matches only.
Junior setter Kristen Schevikhoven returned to the starting lineup against Kansas on Saturday, the first time she has been a starter since suffering a severe ankle injury at Colorado on Sept. 27.
The Aggies have used eight different starting lineups, including the starting libero, in 21 matches. Ammerman, Batis and Donaldson are the only three to have started every match. Schevikhoven, right side/middle blocker Kelsey Bryant, and middle blocker Jillian Phillips, all starters last year, have each missed multiple matches due to injuries this season.
Aggie head coach Laurie Corbelli is 336-155 in her 16th year as head coach of the Aggies and 436-260 in the 23rd season of her head coaching career. She is A&M’s winningest coach in terms of total victories and ranks second for winning percentage.
SCOUTING THE WILDCATS
• Kansas State is 18-4 overall and in third place in the Big 12 standings with an 8-3 record in league matches only.
• K-State boasts four seniors in its lineup, including preseason All-Big 12 selections Rita Liliom and Nataly Korobkova.
• The Wildcats are 8-1 in home matches. Their only home loss was to No. 2 Nebraska in four sets on Sept. 17.
• K-State dropped three spots to No. 16 in this week’s AVCA Division I Top 25 Poll after going 1-1 last week. The Wildcats had a three-match winning streak snapped when they fell to Iowa State, 3-2 (20-25, 25-14, 13-25, 25-21, 15-8) Wednesday in Ames. K-State then came back from a two-set deficit to defeat Baylor, 3-2 (24-26, 20-25, 25-13, 25-17, 21-19) Saturday in Waco.
• Three of K-State’s last four matches have been decided in five sets, starting with a 3-2 victory against Oklahoma on Oct. 11 in Norman.
• The Wildcats rank third in the Big 12 and 19th in the nation with a .264 hitting efficiency for the full season. They also rank in the top four in the league in assists (12.83), kills (13.72) service aces (1.38) and blocks (2.48) per set for the full season.
• Senior middle blockers Megan Farr and Kelsey Chipman rank third and eighth, respectively, in the Big 12 for hitting percentage and fifth and seventh, respectively, in blocks per set. Farr is hitting .399 and averaging 1.16 blocks. Chipman is hitting .323 and averaging 1.0 blocks.
• Senior outside hitter Rita Liliom is second in the league in both kills (4.14) and points (4.64) per set for the full season.
• Suzie Fritz (Florida Atlantic ‘94) is 165-75 in her eighth season as head coach at K-State.
THE A&M-K-STATE ALL-TIME SERIES
• K-State has won the last three meetings and leads the overall series, 15-11, since the teams first met in 1981.
• K-State, which has swept the two-match season series against the Aggies each of the last two years, is 11-1 against the Aggies in Manhattan and 15-10 against A&M in Big 12 matches only.
• A&M’s only win at K-State was a three-game sweep on Nov. 4, 2006.
• Three of the last six meetings between the two teams have gone the maximum five sets.
• In the most recent meeting, Texas A&M suffered it first home loss of the 2008 season, falling to then-No. 17 Kansas State, 25-23, 25-18, 25-20, at G. Rollie White Coliseum on Sept. 24.
The Aggies, who entered the match 5-0 in home matches, jumped out to a 13-8 lead in the opening set, but the Wildcats went on a 7-1 run to take their first lead since 5-4. The teams began to trade points until, with K-State up 20-18, Sarah Ammerman got a kill for the Aggies and Darla Donaldson and Jennifer Banse followed with a block to tie the score. K-State’s next attack sailed long, and the Aggies regained the lead at 21-20. Rita Liliom, who carried the Wildcats all night long, answered with two of her seven first-set kills to put K-State back on top, but a back-row kill by A&M’s Mary Batis and an ace by Ammerman put the Aggies back in the lead. It would be their last lead of the set as Liliom ripped two more kills and Soriana Pacheco posted her second ace of the set to clinch the 25-23 win for the Wildcats.
The Wildcats broke away from a 7-7 tie in the second set on a kill by Liliom and four consecutive attack errors by A&M, two of the errors resulting from K-State blocks. The Aggies, who were held to a .000 hitting percentage in the frame, got back within two points at 13-11 and 14-12 but could get no closer. A kill by Natalya Korobkova gave K-State its biggest lead and put the Wildcats at set point at 24-17. A service error on the ensuing play kept the Aggies alive, but then A&M served into the net to end the set.
K-State led the entire third set, using a 6-1 run to build its biggest lead at 14-7. A&M rallied and got within 17-15, but Liliom sparked a three-point spurt with a kill and an ace. The Aggies never got closer than four points for the remainder of the match. Trailing 24-20, A&M had an attack error to end the match.
Liliom led all players with 16 kills. Megan Farr took match-high honors with eight blocks as K-State posted 13.5, the most blocks by an A&M opponent. The Wildcats outhit A&M, .239 to .100.
Batis led A&M with 10 kills, and Ammerman posted a team-high 13 digs.
• A&M is in the midst of its toughest stretch of the schedule this season. On Oct. 15, A&M played No. 3 Texas, the first of five ranked opponents the Aggies are to face in a seven-match stretch. Included in the seven-match stretch are two matches apiece against No. 2 Nebraska and No. 3 Texas, in addition to a match at No. 16 Kansas State, as well as at Baylor, which is receiving votes and defeated the Aggies, 3-1, in College Station, earlier this season.
• Junior outside hitter Mary Batis posted 11 kills against Kansas on Saturday to give her 1,009 kills for her career. She became only the 14th player in A&M history to join the 1,000-Kill Club. Previously, the most recent member was Laura Jones (2002-05), who is A&M’s all-time kill leader with 2,064.
• Junior outside hitter Sarah Ammerman also is nearing the 1,000-kill mark, needing 54 more to reach the milestone. She is second on the team with 3.03 kills per set for the full season.
• Batis also is closing in on 1,000 career digs, needing only 80 more. She leads the team with 2.78 digs per set for the full season. While 14 players have reached 1,000 digs during their A&M careers, Batis will become only the ninth player in A&M history to record both 1,000 kills and 1,000 digs in a career.
• Junior setter Kristen “Schevi” Schevikhoven, who returned to the starting lineup for the first time Saturday against Kansas after missing six starts following an ankle injury at Colorado on Sept. 27, needs 24 assists to move into ninth place in the A&M career records. In only her second season with the Aggies, Schevikhoven will surpass Krista Hierholzer, who tallied 1,825 assists from 1987-90. Schevikhoven is averaging 9.56 assists per set.
• Senior middle blocker Darla Donaldson, the only A&M player to have played in every set this season, ranks fourth in the Big 12 with 1.16 blocks per set in conference matches only. In addition, she is hitting .307 to rank 10th in the league in Big 12 matches only.
• Freshman middle blocker Stephanie Wells, who had appeared in only four sets prior to her first career start at Kansas on Oct. 8, has now started five matches in place of Kelsey Bryant, who is still hampered by a shoulder injury. This past week, Wells posted back-to-back career highs in both kills and points. Against No. 2 Nebraska, Wells posted a then career-high six kills and 6.5 points while hitting .556 in the three-set loss. In the ensuing match, Wells had career highs of eight kills, five blocks (also a match high) and 10.5 points to lead A&M to a 3-0 win against Kansas.
• The match at No. 16 K-State will be A&M’s eighth match against a ranked opponent this season. Oklahoma, which is at No. 3 Texas on Wednesday, is the only other team in the Big 12 to play as many ranked teams. A&M is 1-6 against ranked opponents, while the Sooners are 0-7 against ranked teams entering their match against the Longhorns. K-State is 0-3 against Top 25 teams.
• Until Iowa State’s upset against No. 13 Kansas State last Wednesday, A&M was the only Big 12 team besides Nebraska and Texas to have a victory against a Top 25 team.
• A&M ranks in the top four in the Big 12 for lowest hitting percentage allowed (.205), fewest kills allowed (12.23), fewest assists allowed (11.23) and fewest digs allowed (13.33) per set in Big 12 matches only.
• Freshman libero Chelsea Ringel has posted double-digit digs in six of the last seven matches. She has recorded double figures in digs in eight matches total, tying Mary Batis for most double-figure dig matches this season. Ringel, who was not the libero against the Jayhawks, leads the Aggies with 2.84 digs per set in Big 12 matches only and is second on the team with a 2.48 average for the full season. She is averaging a team-leading 3.12 digs per set over the last seven matches.
• Senior middle blocker Jillian Phillips has missed 17 matches and is out indefinitely with a stress fracture in her lower leg. Last year, Phillips played in every match and led the team and ranked seventh in the Big 12 with 1.21 blocks per game in Big 12 matches.
• A&M held Texas Tech to a .029 hitting percentage in Lubbock on Oct. 11, the lowest by an A&M Big 12 opponent since the Aggies held Iowa State to a -.016 hitting efficiency on Sept. 27, 2002. Meanwhile, the Aggies themselves hit a season-high .387 against the Lady Raiders, the highest by an A&M team since the Aggies hit .402 at Kansas on Oct. 6, 2007, a span of 31 matches.
• In spite of injury-plagued A&M’s makeshift lineup against Kansas on Oct. 8, the Aggies hit .311, the Aggies’ highest hitting percentage in a five-set Big 12 match since hitting .378 in a five-setter at Missouri on Nov. 26, 2005. In addition, A&M posted 15 blocks, one shy of its season high, which the Aggies set against Missouri in the previous match.
• Junior outside hitters Mary Batis and Sarah Ammerman each surpassed 1,000 career points earlier this season. Batis, who leads the team and ranks 10th in the Big 12 with 3.77 points per set, surpassed 1,000 points for her career after posting 24.5 points against Oklahoma on Sept. 21. She moved into third in the A&M career records on Saturday and now has 1,139.
Ammerman recorded 15.5 points against Missouri on Oct. 4 to surpass 1,000 points. Ammerman, who is second on the team with 3.43 points per set and now has 1,084 for her career, is the fifth A&M player to surpass the milestone since rally scoring began in 2001. Laura Jones (2002-05) is A&M’s all-time career leader with 2,346.5 points.
• Jennifer Banse’s career-high 24 digs against Oklahoma on Sept. 21 marked the most digs in a match by an A&M player since former libero Holly Clay had 28 at Texas Tech on Oct. 22, 2005. The junior outside hitter ranks third on the team with 2.24 digs per set for the full season.
• A&M’s win against No. 16 BYU on Sept. 6 was the Aggies’ highest ranked victory since upsetting No. 9 Texas on Oct. 16, 2004, in College Station. Prior to the BYU match, A&M’s most recent win against a ranked opponent was against No. 22 Minnesota on Sept. 2, 2006, at the Billiken Invitational in Saint Louis.
A&M faces its second of three consecutive ranked opponents Saturday as the Aggies take on No. 3 Texas at Gregory Gym in Austin. Match time has been changed to 5 p.m. A&M returns home Wed., Nov. 5 to host No. 2 Nebraska. The start time against the Huskers has been changed to 6 p.m. at G. Rollie White Coliseum.
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