COLLEGE STATION, Texas - Texas A&M celebrated "Senior Night" with a convincing 25-20, 25-11, 25-21 victory over Colorado tonight in front of 1,240 at G. Rollie White Coliseum.
With the victory, A&M (14-14, 9-9 Big 12) extends its winning streak to four, its longest in conference play this season, and remains mathematically eligible for an at-large berth into the NCAA tournament with two must-win matches remaining in the regular season.
"It's really fortunate that we have an older group that understands that our backs are against the wall and we have to (win)," A&M coach Laurie Corbelli said. "They are determined to do it. Rather than feeling the pressure, they are just really convinced that we just have do have to do what we do."
Colorado (12-15, 6-12 Bug 12), which overcame a two-set deficit to defeat the Aggies in Boulder earlier this season, suffers its sixth consecutive loss and is officially eliminated from postseason contention.
"The team was convinced that they could win that match at Colorado, being up two sets to none," Corbelli said, "and the disappointment was so great when we just couldn't find a way to close it out. Hopefully we learned. That is all I can really say is that they learned that they don't want that feeling again. They know they can compete with that team, and if they all bring what they have and do their jobs, if every player will bring her game, then we really have a great shot to go really far, and that is how it has been all year. "
The Aggies played convincingly, hitting a season-high .402 for the match while holding the Buffaloes to a .162 hitting efficiency. Sarah Ammerman paced the Aggies' balanced attack with 14 kills and a personal season-high .545 hitting percentage. Mary Batis added 11 kills and passed the 1,000 career-dig milestone with eight digs. Senior Darla Donaldson had seven kills and no errors in 11 attempts for a .636 efficiency, and setter Kristen Schevikhoven had a match-high 10 digs and also dished out 41 assists.
A&M never trailed in the opening set, although Colorado stayed close early. The Buffaloes tied the score seven times, the last coming at 13-13 before a kill by Jennifer Banse and a block by senior Kelsey Bryant and Schevikhoven put the Aggies up, 15-13. The Aggies kept their two-point cushion at 22-20 when Schevikhoven got a kill and Ammerman posted her sixth and seventh kills in the frame to clinch the win.
A&M, which outhit Colorado, .406 to .195 in the first set, hit .429 in the second stanza while holding the Buffs to a .088 hitting efficiency. A&M was up, 16-11, when the Aggies reeled off nine straight points to close out the set. Colorado's 11 points marked the fewest points scored against the Aggies using the 25-point scoring system.
Colorado scored the first two points of the third set to take its first lead of the match. A&M quickly took the lead, responding with four unanswered points. A&M went on to build its biggest lead at 16-12, but Colorado went on a 7-2 run to take a 19-18 lead. Back-to back kills by Ammerman and Batis returned the advantage to A&M. Emilee Sisco tied the score at 20 with one of her team-leading 10 kills, but a kill by Batis and consecutive attack errors by the Buffs put A&M up 23-20. Sisco got a kill before A&M closed out the match with two consecutive points, including Batis' match-clinching kill.
A&M plays its final home match Wednesday, Nov. 26 against Texas Tech. In addition, it will be the 500th match of Corbelli's A&M coaching career.
"It will the 500th match for me and (husband and associate head coach John Corbelli) since we have been here, and that is really momentous to me just as a couple and as coaches. It has kind of been our life. And (the match) also kind of marks what might be the end of an era in G. Rollie. It is such a special place to play volleyball and it is looked as that from around the conference and other programs in the country that have been here. It is going to be a great time and a very special time."
First serve against the Red Raiders is slated for 6:30 p.m. at G. Rollie White Coliseum. It will be the last match at the Holler House for at least three years. The Aggies will move to Reed Arena, home of the men's and women's basketball teams, for at least the next three season while the Memorial Student Center takes over G. Rollie during the major renovation of the MSC. The future status of volleyball's return to G. Rollie will be evaluated upon completion of the renovation.
The Aggies close out the regular season at Missouri on Friday, Nov. 28.