Aggies Face Iowa State Saturday in Ames

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COLLEGE STATION -- The 25th-ranked Texas A&M Aggies (10-1, 0-1 Big 12) play their first conference road match of the early season as they take on Iowa State (7-4, 1-0 Big 12) Saturday in Ames. First serve is slated for 6:30 p.m. at Hilton Coliseum.

A&M is coming off a heartbreaking 3-2 loss conference-opening to Oklahoma in College Station on Wednesday. The Aggies came from behind to win the first two games, but Oklahoma stormed back to win the match, 26-30, 26-30, 30-27, 30-24, 15-13.

The loss was the first loss of the season for the Aggies, who had posted a school-record 10-0 to start the season.

Sophomore Sarah Ammerman, who had the first 20-20 performance of her career after posting 22 kills and a career-high 21 digs against the Sooners, leads the Aggies with 4.0 kills and 4.45 points per game. Junior middle blocker Jillian Phillips bolstered her team-leading block average to 1.31 per game after tallying a career-high nine total blocks against OU.

Senior middle blocker Kelly Stanton entered the week ranked 12th in the nation in hitting percentage and is currently second in the Big 12 with a .437 efficiency. Sophomore outside hitter Mary Batis is the team’s top digger with 3.57 per game, and she also leads the team with 0.46 aces per game, while sophomore setter Kristen Schevikhoven is averaging 11.55 assists per game.

Iowa State extended its winning streak to six and improved to 7-4 overall and 1-0 in the Big 12 with a 30-23, 30-27, 31-29 conference-opening win at Baylor on Wednesday.

The Cyclones, who posted a 3-1 victory over then-21st ranked LSU earlier in the streak, returns three starters from last year’s team that finished an all-time high tied for fourth in the Big 12 and advanced to the NCAA second round for the second time in school history. Included among the returning starters is senior middle blocker Erin Boeve, the 2006 Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year who averaged 1.56 blocks per game.

Boeve is playing on the outside this season and leads the Cyclones with 3.67 kills per game. Junior middle blocker Jen Malcom is averaging a Big 12-best 1.67 blocks, and sophomore middle Diane Kieger is fourth in the league with 1.4 blocks per game after posting eight blocks against the Bears. Sophomore setter Kaylee Manns is averaging 12.29 assists per game.

THE A&M-ISU ALL-TIME SERIES

A&M leads the all-time series against the Cyclones, 22-3, since 1976, including 20-2 in Big 12 matches. ISU, however, swept the season series last year, ending a 21-match losing streak against the Aggies.

The Cyclones got their first Big 12 victory against A&M with a 30-25, 30-20, 28-30, 30-25 victory in Ames on Oct. 18, 2006. It marked ISU’s first win overall against the Aggies since 1989.

ISU completed the season-series sweep and picked up its first-ever win in College Station with a 26-30, 30-27, 29-31, 30-18, 15-13 victory against the Aggies on Nov. 12, 2006, despite a career-high 27 kills and 29 points from Aggie freshman outside hitter Sarah Ammerman.

A&M QUICK HITS

• Record start: The 2007 Aggies became the first team in school history to win 10 matches before suffering a loss. The previous longest unbeaten streak at the start of a season was seven set in 1982, and the previous best unbeaten streak at the start of a season by a Laurie Corbelli-coached A&M team was six, accomplished in 2001 and 2005.

This is the fourth time in A&M history an Aggie team has sported a 10-1 record after 11 matches. The 1995 team went a school-best 12-1 before suffering its second loss.

• A&M in national statistics: Texas A&M entered the week ranked third in the nation with a .346 hitting percentage. Three Aggies are among the top 50 for individual hitting percentage through Sept. 9. Kelly Stanton is ranked 12th with a .447 hitting percentage. Jillian Phillips is hitting .426 to rank No. 23, and Kelsey Bryant’s .397 hitting percentage ranks 42nd.

A&M also is listed 16th in the national statistics for kills per game (16.81 kpg), tied for 35th in assists per game (14.81), tied for 66th in aces per game (2.03) and ranked 75th in blocks per game (2.60).

• Tough schedule awaits Aggies: Thirteen of A&M’s 31 regular-season matches this season are 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.

A&M is currently 1-1 against last year’s NCAA tournament field, sweeping Prairie View A&M and falling in five games to Oklahoma, which reached the Sweet 16 after placing second in the Big 12.

UPCOMING SCHEDULE

A&M returns home Wednesday, Sept. 19 to host Texas Tech. First serve is slated for 6:30 p.m. at G. Rollie White Coliseum.

The Aggies then return to the road as they travel to Lincoln, Neb., to take on defending national champion and No. 1-ranked Nebraska, Saturday, Sept. 22. Match time is 7 p.m. at Lincoln Coliseum.

Tech is 1-0 in Big 12 and 7-3 overall after opening conference play with a 3-2 victory over Colorado. Nebraska improved to 8-0 with a sweep against No. 7 Texas in Lincoln.