A&M Holds Off Texas Tech, 3-2

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COLLEGE STATION -- Sarah Ammerman and Mary Batis tallied 21 kills apiece and Kelly Stanton and Jillian Phillips added 10 kills each to help Texas A&M hold off Texas Tech, 30-27, 30-21, 21-30, 27-30, 15-10 in front of 1,897at G. Rollie White Coliseum.

The Aggies (11-2, 1-2 Big 12) earn they first Big 12 victory and snap a two-match losing skid, which included a conference-opening five-game home loss to Oklahoma despite taking a two-game lead.

Tech, which outhit A&M, .283 to .232 in the match, falls to 7-5 overall and 1-2 in the Big 12.

“We’re obviously thrilled to have pulled that one out,” A&M coach Laurie Corbelli said. “They were so determined to not let what happen last week happen tonight. They got really focused and stayed together.”

Ammerman got nine of her kills in the first game and was instrumental in giving the Aggies an 18-8 jump start in the opening stanza. Tech fought back and got within 23-21 after Caroline Courtney tooled the Aggie block for a kill but was unable to totally close the gap. The Red Raiders, who outhit A&M, .341 to .250 in the frame, held off two game points to get back within 29-27 before Stanton put down a kill for the game winner.

A&M got off to a quick start in Game 2 as well, putting together strings of points to build its biggest lead at 26-14. Tech later used a three-point run to get within 28-20, but a service error put A&M at game point. Amy Gander got a kill to keep the Red Raiders in the game, but Alicia Ostmeyer’s ensuing cross-court attack sailed wide to give the Aggies a two-game lead heading into the intermission.

The Aggies, who had no blocks in the first game, hit .324 and posted six blocks in Game 2 to help hold Tech to a .125 hitting percentage.

Tech had the hot hand after the break, leading from start to finish in Game 3 and outhitting A&M, .467 to .184. The Red Raiders had built an 18-10 lead, and A&M’s comeback came up short. The Aggies got back within three points at 20-17 and trailed, 25-21, when Tech reeled off five unanswered points to close out the game.

“I’ve said many times that the serving and passing game dictates so much on the court,” Corbelli said. “Our serving was more aggressive and we took them out of their middle attack, which is really fast; not all the time, but enough times to get the wins [in the first two games.]

“Then we started playing more conservatively – not intentionally, just started to want it so badly that we let up a little bit on our serving. It put them in system and put them with the quick middles and quick behind sets. They just started running their offense a lot faster at us and we helped them by being too careful.”

The Aggies held a narrow 13-11 advantage in Game 4 when Tech took off on a 9-1 run to go up, 20-14. The Red Raiders maintained a six-point lead at 28-22 when the Aggies made a late charge. Batis had three kills in a 5-1 scoring burst for the Aggies, who held off two game points before an attack went long to seal a 30-27 win for the Red Raiders and even the match at two games apiece.

“We started fighting back, and I was really proud of them,” Corbelli said. “A lot of teams sometimes kind of cave and just call it a game, and we fought back. I think that really help us get some momentum for Game 5. We believed we were going to win that game; come from behind and win it. That is a sign that they never quit believing.”

Tech held a 3-2 edge to begin the deciding fifth game, but a kill by Ammerman and a solo block by Stanton gave the Aggies the lead. Tech tied the score at 4-all and 6-all when Batis posted all four of her kills of the game during a 5-2 stretch by A&M to give the Aggies an 11-8 advantage. Tech got within 11-9 on a kill by Bryan, Texas, native Becca Baldwin, but Ammerman answered with a kill to put the Aggies up, 12-9. Tech setter Emily Ziegler was then whistled for being in the net after attempting to chase down an errant, tight pass, and Stanton put the Aggies serving for the match with a kill off the block on the following play. A&M’s next attack sailed wide, but Red Raider libero Jenn Harrell served into the net on the ensuing play to give A&M the match-winning point.

“I just saw the personality of the team grow tonight,” Corbelli said. “It was an exhibition of a more mature group and a group that was more determined and together. When they believe in each other and they have they unity, they can execute a lot stronger. It just helps them believe one more step closer to just a stronger team, a stronger unit. That is so much of what this game is, and it is really nice to get the win to confirm that.

“They are very good now at being more accountable to each other and call each other out if they need more from each other. They are learning to handle all of that stuff better. They just want to win. They never thought of losing. It was different from last week.”

In addition to their offensive output, Batis and Ammerman tallied 17 and 11 digs, respectively, to complete double-doubles. Setter Kristen Schevikhoven also notched a double-double with 61 assists and 12 digs, both career highs. Libero Jen Moore also added 12 digs.

Stanton’s team-leading eight blocks helped lead A&M to an 11-7 advantage in blocking.

Michelle Flores led Tech with 18 kills, and Gandy and Ostmeyer contributed 16 each. Harrell led in digs with 18, and Gandy and Lindsey Louis added 16 and 14 digs, respectively.

The Aggies return to action Saturday as they take on defending national champion and No. 1-ranked Nebraska in Lincoln. First serve is at 7 p.m. at Lincoln Coliseum