COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- The Texas A&M volleyball team (2-1) returns to the court Thursday and Friday to compete in the UTSA Classic at the Convocation Center in San Antonio. The Aggies open with a pair of matches on Thursday, taking on Loyola Marymount at 1:30 p.m. and meeting Lamar at 7 p.m. A&M closes out the tournament with a single match on Friday, facing the UTSA Roadrunners at 7 p.m.
Thursday, September 5
11:00 a.m. UTSA vs. Lamar
1:30 p.m. Texas A&M vs. Loyola Marymount
4:30 p.m. UTSA vs. #8 Florida
7:00 p.m. Lamar vs. TEXAS A&M
Friday, September 6
12:00 p.m. UTSA vs. Loyola Marymount
4:30 p.m. Loyola Marymount vs. Lamar
7:00 p.m. UTSA vs. TEXAS A&M
FOLLOW THE ACTION:
• Free live audio and video of all A&M matches will be available on AggieAthletics.com with Chelsea Reber calling the action
• Live stats will be available on AggieAthletics.com
• Live updates and other information can be found by following AggieVolleyball on Twitter.
After playing six matches on the road, the Aggies make their home debut Thursday-Friday, Sept. 12-13, as they host the challenging Texas A&M Invitational at Reed Arena. The Maroon and White opens against Siena at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday and faces 15th-ranked Florida State at 7:30 that evening. On Friday, Sept. 13, A&M takes on No. 7 Michigan at 7 p.m. Florida State and Michigan were NCAA Final Four teams in 2011 and 2012, respectively.
Texas A&M opened the 2013 season going 2-1 and taking second place at the UND Classic in Grand Forks, N.D. The Aggies disposed of South Dakota State, 3-0, in the opener. A&M outhit the Jackrabbits, .363 to -.011, and tallied 14 aces, equaling the ninth most aces in a match in school history. A&M then faced 15th-ranked and former Big 12 foe Iowa State, and despite a 20-kill, .514 hitting performance from sophomore opposite hitter Sierra Patrick and nine blocks by freshman redshirt middle blocker Jazzmin Babers, the Aggies fell in four sets. A&M regrouped to defeat an experienced North Dakota team, 3-1, in the tournament finale as Patrick once again tallied a career-tying 20 kills. Sophomore outside hitter Angela Lowak and sophomore middle blocker Shelby Sullivan also posted career highs in kills with 16 and 13, respectively. Patrick and senior setter Allie Sawatzky were named to the all-tournament team.
TEXAS A&M NOTES:
· Five players made their first career start in the Aggies’ season opener against South Dakota State, including freshman outside hitter Emily Hardesty and redshirt freshman middle blocker Jazzmin Babers who were playing in their first collegiate match and started all three matches at the UND Classic. Other first-time starters were sophomores Angela Lowak (OH), Sierra Patrick (OPP/OH) and Shelby Sullivan (MB). Senior setter Mariah Agre drew her first career start against Iowa State, playing back row, with Patrick subbing in for her in the front row.
· Senior 6-2 lefty setter Allie Sawatzky was the other starter in the three matches at the UND Classic. The Canadian has started every match (95) of her career since joining the Aggies as a freshman in 2010.
· Texas A&M leads its opponents in all positive statistical categories through the first three matches:
K/s Pct. A/s SA/s D/s BLK/s
A&M 14.64 .264 13.73 2.27 15.18 2.36
OPP 11.82 .184 11.18 0.55 14.55 1.91
· Patrick, who saw action on both the right and left sides, leads the Aggies with 4.00 kills and 4.14 points per set and a .424 hitting percentage. She led the team in kills against both No. 15 Iowa State and North Dakota with a career-high 20 kills in each match.
· A&M underclassmen -- sophomores Lowak, Patrick and Sullivan and freshmen Babers, Hardesty and Kaysie Shebeneck -- have accounted for 141 of A&M’s 161 kills (87.6 percent) over the first three matches. In addition, they are responsible for 16 of 17 (94.1 percent) of the team’s solo blocks and 17 of 18 (94.4 percent) of A&M’s block assists.
· Sawatzky, who is averaging 10.00 assists per set through three matches, ranks fourth in the A&M career records with 3,550 assists. She needs 344 assists to move into a tie for third with Yvonne Van Brandt, who posted 3,894 assists from 1986-89.
· Babers’ nine blocks in the 3-1 loss to Iowa State is the most by an Aggie freshman since Melissa Munsch tallied 10 in a 3-1 win against Kansas on Nov. 14, 2001, when the 30-point scoring cap was in effect. The nine blocks is the most by an A&M player since then-junior Lindsey Miller had nine in a sweep against Kansas State on Oct. 1, 2011. For the season, Babers is averaging a team-leading 1.09 blocks per set.
· Senior libero Kelsey Kinley has taken match-high honors in digs in two of three matches and leads the team with 3.18 digs per set.
· Lowak posted the team’s first double-double in kills and digs this season and the first of her career with 11 kills and 13 digs against Iowa State. Sawatzky also had a double-double in the match with 40 assists and 10 digs.
· Lowak and Sullivan each had career highs in kills and Patrick tied her career high in the 3-1 win against North Dakota. Lowak had 16 kills and Sullivan added 13, while Patrick led all players with 20 kills
· Sawatzky tied the A&M all-time record with a career-high six service aces in the sweep against South Dakota State. It marked the 11th time an A&M player posted six aces in a match, including the eighth time it was accomplished in a three-set match. Sullivan and Mariah Agre added career highs with three and two aces, respectively, to help A&M tally 14 as a team. The 14 team aces ties for ninth in the A&M all-time team records.
· The Aggies received votes in the first AVCA Top 25 Poll of the regular season. Penn State is the top ranked team. No. 8 Florida and No. 21 Kentucky represent the SEC in the top 25, and Auburn is receiving votes. No. 7 Michigan and No. 15 Florida State both will be competing in the Texas A&M Invitational next week at Reed Arena.
· Eleven of A&M’s 29 regular season matches will be against teams that appeared in the 2012 NCAA Championship, including Loyola Marymount in the opener of the UTSA Classic and Final Four participant Michigan at the Texas A&M Invitational on Sept. 13.
· Texas A&M head coach Laurie Corbelli returns two starters and eight other letterwinners from last year’s team that won the SEC West with a 16-4 record and was 25-6 overall with a No. 17 final RPI after advancing to the NCAA second round. She also welcomes two redshirt freshmen and four true freshmen.
· A&M, the 2012 SEC Western Division Champion, was picked to win the SEC West again this year, along with LSU, according to a preseason vote of the league’s head coaches. However, in a meeting held in late August, the SEC athletics directors passed a measure, effective immediately, to recognize and award divisional champions in the sports of football and baseball only.
SCOUTING THE OPPONENTS:
· Loyola Marymount is 2-1 on the season, having swept both North Texas and Albany and falling to 12th-ranked UCLA, 3-1, at its own DoubleTree Los Angeles Westside Invitational last weekend.
· Senior 6-1 outside hitter Kathleen Luft and senior defensive specialist Betsi Metter were named to the all-tournament team. Luft averaged a team-high 3.57 kills per set, and Metter posted 4.40 digs and 1.40 aces per set. Metter, a two-time WCC Defensive Player of the Year, took match-high honors in digs in every match and tallied 14 aces in 10 sets, including six aces in a sweep against North Texas.
· Last year the Lions went 18-13 and advanced to the first round of the NCAA tournament, where they fell to Western Kentucky in the first round.
· Tom Black (UC San Diego, 1996) is 49-45 in his fourth season as head coach of the Lions. He is 162-73 in the ninth season of his head coaching career.
· Lamar enters the UTSA Classic 1-4. After going 1-3 at the season-opening Texas State Classic in San Marcos, the Cardinals fell to Texas-Pan American, 3-2, in their home opener on Monday.
· Senior 5-9 outside hitter Sierra Whittaker, a former All-Southland Conference honoree, leads Lamar with 3.00 kills per set. The top digger is junior libero Megan Schwartz (4.58 per set) and the top blocker is freshman Chelsea Grant with 1.28 blocks per set.
· Lamar has 10 freshmen and one junior college transfer on its 17-member roster.
· Justin Gibert (Texas ‘94) is in his ninth season has head coach at Lamar.
· UTSA returns five starters plus the libero from last year’s team that went 21-9.
· The Roadrunners are 1-2 on the season, having fallen 3-1 to both LSU and San Diego State before notching a 3-1 victory against UC Davis.
· McKenzie Adams, a 6-3 outside hitter, was named Conference USA Offensive Player of the Week and earned all-tournament honors at the Tigers Classic after averaging 6.25 kills, 4.00 digs and 6.46 points per set.
· Sophomore libero Annie Kunes has posted 20 or more digs in all three matches and is averaging 6.25 digs per set.
· Laura Neugebauer-Groff (Texas, 1986) is 190-165 in her 12th season as head coach of the Roadrunners and 446-226 in the 20th year of her head coaching career. A former All-American at Texas and a member of the San Antonio Sports Hall of Fame, Neugebauer-Groff was an assistant coach at Texas A&M for the 1991 and 1992 seasons under former Aggie head coach Al Givens.
ALL-TIME SERIES RECORDS:
· Texas A&M is 1-0 in the all-time series against Loyola Marymount. The teams last met August 30, 1996, in Fort Collins, Colo., where the Aggies came back from two sets down to defeat the 20th-ranked Lions, 3-2 (13-15, 7-15, 15-12, 15-12, 15-8) in both teams’ season opener at the University Park Holiday Inn Classic, hosted by Colorado State.
· A&M is 31-15 against Lamar and has won the last 14 meetings dating back to 1984. The teams last met Sept. 22, 1995, with A&M winning 15-2, 15-3, 15-9 at G. Rollie White Coliseum.
· A&M is 8-0 in the all-time series against UTSA, including 4-0 in matches played in San Antonio. The teams last met Aug. 26, 2011, at Reed Arena, where the Aggies won, 3-0 (25-23, 25-21, 25-21). A&M is 5-0 and has not dropped a set against the Roadrunners with Laurie Corbelli as head coach of the Aggies.