NEW HAVEN, CT -- Texas A&M used a balanced attack and hit an impressive .440 in a 25-22, 25-12, 25-15 sweep over American today in the Aggies’ second match of the Yale Classic at John J. Lee Amphitheater.
“I thought overall it was a very balanced effort by everyone on the team,” A&M head coach Laurie Corbelli said. “The group was focused and ready to go, and it was a real pleasure to coach them today.”
Eight of the 12 A&M players who saw action recorded at least one kill each as the Aggies improved to 4-1 overall and 2-0 at the tournament. A&M senior opposite Alisia Kastmo led all players with 11 kills while hitting at a .348 clip for the match. Senior middle blocker Stephanie Minnerly and junior outside hitter Heather Reynolds also shined as they each hit .667 with identical stat lines of eight kills and no errors in 12 attempts. Senior middle blocker Lindsey Miller also pitched in eight kills as the Aggies posted 50 kills to the Eagles’ 29 and held American to a .129 hitting efficiency.
Reynolds took match-high honors with 13 digs as the Aggies outdug the Eagles, 44-29.
“Kudos to two attackers who had zero errors in the whole match,” Corbelli said. “Heather Reynolds and Steph Minnerly both were so focused and very sharp. I thought that in this match our setting also was a lot more accurate than the past, so we are starting to get the rhythm that we want”.
The Aggies briefly got off to a slow start in the opening frame and trailed 12-8 before quickly turning things around and making a comeback thanks in large to a 7-kill, 0-error performance in the set by Minnerly. Trailing 17-14, A&M went on a 6-0 run go up 20-17 and take its first lead since 6-5. Junior setter Allie Sawatzky posted three kills and Minnerly added two during the rally.
A&M took its largest lead at 23-19, but American got back-to-back kills from Juliana Crum to pull within 23-21. Minnerly then got a kill, punishing the Eagles for an errant overpass, to put A&M at set point. American posted a kill before Kastmo tallied her fourth kill to clinch the set.
A&M, which ended up outhitting American .405 to .270 in the first set, was firing on all cylinders in the second set, hitting .556 while holding the Eagles to a .088 hitting efficiency. American (2-2) held its only lead at 2-1 when the Aggies erupted for five unanswered points during an 8-1 run. A&M got all-around contributions during the rally as six of the eight points came on kills from four different players, and the other two points followed blocks involving four players.
The Aggies continued to string together runs of points to double up the Eagles, 22-11. American then registered a kill before committing three consecutive errors to give the Aggies a 25-12 win and a 2-0 lead in the match.
A&M used a three-point run to take a 5-4 lead in the third set. The Eagles tied the score at 5-all and 6-all but were unable to regain a lead before A&M broke away with a six-point rally. The Aggies, who hit .370 while holding American to a .000 hitting percentage with only six kills in the set, continued to widen the gap, building a 21-12 lead.
American scored three points to get within 21-15 before back-to-back kills by Reynolds and Ashley Vrana sparked a match-ending four-point run, capped by a block by Miller and Sawatzky.
Corbelli was pleased with her team’s overall performance and was especially happy that she was able to get some reserves onto the court throughout the match, including freshman defensive specialist Kate Praslicka, who made the first debut of her young career.
“It was nice to be able to put in Kate Praslicka for (Kastmo) to play in the back row a little bit and get her some passing, serving and digging,” Corbelli said. “I also love the fact that I could have (Sierra) Patrick and (Angela) Lowak go in and just get a feel of being on the court. It is really important that we do our best to get them out there and just get a feel how different competition is from practice, even though we aren’t asking them to do a whole lot just yet.”
A&M closes out the Yale Classic against Stony Brook today at 4 p.m. (CT).