Aggies To Compete At Montana State Holiday Inn Classic

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BOZEMAN, MT -- While the Texas A&M football team hosts Montana State in College Station on Saturday, the Aggie volleyball team heads to Bozeman, Mont., to participate in the Montana State Holiday Inn Classic, Friday and Saturday.

The Aggies, 3-0 after winning their own Texas A&M Invitational last weekend, open the tournament against Utah State (1-2) Friday at 5:30 p.m. (MDT) at Shroyer Gym.

On Saturday, A&M takes on Washington State (4-0 entering a Wednesday match at Gonzaga) at 10 a.m. and then concludes the tournament against the host Bobcats (0-4) at 7 p.m.

Internet video streaming of Montana State matches will be available for $4.95 each at www.bigskytv.org.

A&M QUICK HITS

• Aggies win Texas A&M Invitational: Texas A&M opened its 2007 campaign by going 3-0 and winning the Texas A&M Invitational last weekend at G. Rollie White Coliseum in College Station. The Aggies defeated Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, 3-0, on Friday to extend their season home opener winning streak to 17, with the last 14 coming under the direction of A&M head coach Laurie Corbelli, who made her Aggie coaching debut in 1993.

A&M then swept Centenary, holding the Ladies to eight points in the third game to tie a school record for fewest points allowed in a single game. The Aggies concluded the weekend by sweeping Prairie View A&M to win the tournament.

• Aggies earn all-tourney honors: Mary Batis, a sophomore outside hitter from San Antonio, was named MVP at the Texas A&M Invitational last weekend after leading the Aggies to a 3-0 record. Batis, who was named to the all-tournament team in all three tournaments A&M participated in last year, started every match and led the Aggies with 3.38 digs and 0.62 aces per game for the weekend.

Batis posted a team-high eight digs and added two blocks in three games against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. She also had an ace, 10 kills and hit .389 and finished with 12.0 points.

Against Centenary, Batis recorded a match-high 10 digs and tied for match-high honors with two blocks. She also had a career-high four aces and added eight kills to tally a match-high 13 points.

Batis played in only two games in the sweep against Prairie View A&M and recorded a team-leading nine digs.

Senior middle blocker Kelly Stanton and sophomore outside hitter Sarah Ammerman joined Batis on the all-tournament team. Stanton averaged 4.14 kills while hitting a team-high .511. Ammerman averaged a team-best 4.83 kills and 5.50 points per game. She capped the weekend with 17 kills and no errors in 30 attempts for a career-high .567 hitting percentage in the sweep against Prairie View A&M.

• New faces: Two players made their A&M debut last weekend: sophomore setter Kristen Schevikhoven, a transfer from Northern Colorado, and 6-5 freshman right-side hitter Bre Lewis from Topeka, Kan. Junior middle blocker Darla Donaldson, a transfer from Cal State Northridge, is expected to make her Aggie debut this weekend.

Schevikhoven, who earned all-Big Sky honorable mention last season, played in seven games and averaged 9.86 assists per game. Lewis played sparingly in five games.

• Familiar teammates: Aggie sophomores Jenny Banse, Mary Batis and Stephanie Cadavid were teammates while competing for Alamo Volleyball Club during their prep careers. The trio helped lead the team to the national championship title at the 2003 Junior Olympics 15 Open Division.

Sophomores Sarah Ammerman, Cara Quayle and Kristen Schevikhoven were teammates at Front Range Volleyball Club and led their team to the 2006 AAU National Championship title.

• A&M receives votes: A&M received votes in the preseason and first regular-season CSTV/AVCA Top 25 polls. The Aggies were tied with Northern Iowa for 35th in the preseason poll, and after a 3-0 start, A&M is now listed 33rd.

Defending Big 12 and national champion Nebraska is listed No. 1 in the first poll of the regular season, receiving 55 of 60 first-place votes. Other Big 12 schools listed in the Top 25 are No. 6 Texas, No. 21 Oklahoma and No. 25 Kansas State. Missouri received votes and is listed 30th.

• Aggies picked fourth: Texas A&M is picked to finish fourth in the Big 12 according to a vote of the league coaches. The youth-laden Aggies tied for eighth last season with a 5-15 mark.

Defending national champion Nebraska is the runaway favorite to repeat as Big 12 champion. Texas is picked to finish second, with Missouri, Texas A&M and Colorado completing the top five spots, respectively. Iowa State was picked sixth with Kansas State, Baylor, Oklahoma, Kansas and Texas Tech rounding out the poll.

• Tough schedule awaits Aggies: Thirteen of A&M’s 31 regular-season matches this season will be against teams that advanced to the 2006 NCAA Championship, including two against defending national-champion Nebraska. A total of 12 matches are against teams that advanced to at least the second round of the NCAAs, and 10 of those matches will be against teams that ranked in the final Top 25 Poll.

• NCAA tournament history: Texas A&M has reached the NCAA tournament 13 times during coach Laurie Corbelli’s 14-year tenure, making the Aggies one of only 15 teams who have made 13 or more NCAA appearances in the last 14 years. In addition, A&M is one of only nine teams to advance to the NCAA second round in at least 12 of the last 14 years.

Entering the 2006 season, the Aggies had been to the NCAA tournament every year since Corbelli was hired as head coach in 1993. A&M had advanced to at least the second round every year until 2005, when it was eliminated in the first round by Northwestern, 3-2, in South Bend, Ind. Before the loss, A&M was one of only six teams to have advanced to at least the second round every year since 1993, joining Florida, Nebraska, Penn State, Southern California and Stanford. Despite the first-round loss in 2005, the Aggies remained one of only 10 teams that had received an NCAA tournament berth in each of the previous 13 years.

OPPONENT NOTES

Utah State is 1-2 after finishing third at the Sheraton Four Points Classic in Tucson. Ariz. The USU Aggies fell in three games to both Arizona and Saint Mary’s and then defeated Eastern Washington, 3-1, to conclude the tournament.

Senior opposite hitter Amanda Nielson, an all-Western Athletic Conference second-team selection last season and a 2007 preseason all-WAC team member, was named to the all-tournament team after averaging 5.6 points, 4.3 kills and 2.3 digs.

The Aggies return seven letterwinners, including five starters, from last year’s team that went 13-19 and tied for sixth in the WAC with a 6-10 mark under first-year coach Grayson DuBose.

Washington State is 4-0 entering a match at Gonzaga on Wednesday. The Cougars opened the season by winning their own Baden Cougar Challenge Tournament with wins victories against Portland, Northern Colorado and South Dakota State and then improved to 4-0 with a sweep against Idaho on Tuesday.

WSU senior middle blocker Tara West was voted tournament MVP, averaging 4.5 kills per game while hitting .452. Teammates Brittany Johnson (3.3 kpg, 3.2 dpg) and Maureen Perez (13.3 apg) were also selected for the all-tournament honors.

Fourth-year head coach Brian Heffeman returns eight letterwinners, including five starters from the 2006 team that went 15-17 and placed ninth in the Pac 10 with a 3-15 record.

Montana State enters the tournament looking for its first victory after falling to 0-4 on the season following a 3-0 loss at South Dakota State on Monday.

Fifth-year head coach Miya Malauulu returns eight letterwinners, including four starters, that went 7-20 in 2006, including a 3-13 mark and ninth-place finish in the Big Sky Conference.

THE ALL-TIME SERIES

Utah State owns a 7-1 lead in the all-time series against A&M, but all seven of USU’s wins were 1980 and earlier. A&M earned its first win against the Utah State Aggies in the teams’ most recent meeting in 1995 in College Station. A&M defeated USU, 3-0 (15-7, 15-8, 15-3).

A&M holds a 2-1 advantage in the all-time series against Washington State. The teams last met Sept. 10, 1999, with A&M defeating the Cougars, 3-0 (15-6, 15-12, 15-5) en route to the tournament title at the Jones Intercable Invitational in Albuquerque, N.M.

A&M and Montana State will be meeting for the first time.

UPCOMING SCHEDULE

The Aggies continue their seven-match road swing next week, facing Texas State on Tuesday, Sept. 4 at 7 p.m. in San Marcos and then competing in the UTSA Classic in San Antonio Sept. 7-8. A&M is slated to face Louisiana Tech on Friday, Sept. 8 at 3:30 p.m. Convocation Center. The Aggies face Auburn Saturday at 3:30 p.m. and conclude the tournament and A&M’s non-conference schedule against the Roadrunners at 7 p.m.

A&M opens Big 12 Conference play Wednesday, Sept. 12 at home against No. 21 Oklahoma.