COLLEGE STATION, Texas – Texas A&M used a solid all-around performance to get back into the win column, coming from behind to defeat Arkansas, 27-29, 25-20, 25-23, 25-22 tonight at Reed Arena.
Sophomore opposite hitter Sierra Patrick led the Aggies in kills with 20, and sophomore middle blocker Shelby Sullivan was clutch, hitting .556 while tallying a career high 16 kills with only one error. Senior setter Allie Sawatzky also posted double-digit kills with 10 and dished out 47 assists to record her league-leading 14th double-double of the season. Each of the three players hit .333 or above as the Aggies outhit Arkansas, .313 to .236 for the match.
Defensively, Aggie freshman Victoria Arenas had a team-high and career-high 20 digs, and senior Heather Reynolds, playing libero for the first time, added a season-high 16 digs in the winning effort. Redshirt freshman middle blocker Jazzmin Babers had five blocks and Sullivan added four as A&M outblocked the Razorbacks, 10-5.
A&M let a 17-14 lead slip away in the first set as Arkansas outhit the Aggies .362 to .289 to come back and get the win. The Razorbacks managed to tie the score at 18 and again at 19 before a block gave them their first lead since 7-6. Arkansas continued to rally and built its largest lead at 23-20 when A&M called its final timeout.
Sullivan came back from the timeout and got a kill on the slide attack and then teamed with freshman outside hitter Emily Hardesty for a block to cut the lead to 23-22. An Arkansas attack error tied the score at 23-23, but Meredith Hays got a kill to put the Razorbacks at set point. A&M fought off three set points before a kill by Patrick returned the lead to the Aggies, 27-26.
A&M, however was unable to close out the win. The Razorbacks’ Ana Sofia Jusino got a kill to tie the score for the 15th time in the set, and A&M’s next attack sailed long to put Arkansas serving for the set for the fourth time. Breana Jones then finished out the win for the Razorbacks with her fourth kill of the set.
Arkansas overcame a four-point deficit early in the second set, scoring five unanswered points to go up 6-4. The lead would change hands twice before an ace by Arenas gave the Aggies the lead for good at 11-10. Patrick followed with back-to-back kills, and an Arkansas attack error continued a five-point surge that put the Aggies up, 14-10.
Arkansas fought back and got within a point at 18-17 and again at 19-18 before the crafty Sawatzky deceptively set the ball over for a kill. A block by Babers and Patrick and a kill by sophomore outside hitter Angela Lowak gave the Aggies a 22-18 cushion. Hays ended the run with her sixth kill of the frame, but Patrick countered with a kill and Babers and Hardesty followed with a block to put the Aggies at set point. Arkansas, which was outhit, .244 to .140, fought off one set point with a kill before Patrick secured the win with her sixth kill of the set and her 10th of the match.
Although A&M never trailed in the third set, Arkansas did manage to fight back from a 19-14 deficit and get within 21-20. That would be the closest the Razorbacks would get as they fell short of taking a lead. A&M scored back-to-back points on a kill by Sawatzky and a block by Lowak and Babers to go up 23-20. Arkansas then got a kill, but Patrick answered with fifth kill in the stanza to put the Aggies at set point. Patrick, however, then committed consecutive attack errors that allowed Arkansas to get back within a point, 24-23. After an A&M timeout, Hardesty recorded the set winning kill, giving the Aggies a 2-1 lead in the match.
The Maroon and White used a 9-0 run to build a 14-8 lead in the fourth set, but the Razorbacks once again rallied, getting within 17-16. The teams then began trading points before Babers tipped a ball in for a kill and then blasted an overpass to put the Aggies up, 21-18. Patrick’s off-speed kill gave the Aggies a 22-18 lead, but back-to-back attack errors by A&M and an Arkansas ace put the Razorbacks within 22-21.
After an A&M timeout, Patrick strategically placed a kill to the open back corner, and Arkansas’ next attack was wide, putting the Aggies at match point. Although the Razorbacks were outhit, .395 to .132 in the set, they stayed alive as Hays posted her match-high 21st kill to get within 24-22 before Sullivan clinch the victory with a kill down the block.
A&M snapped a two-match losing skid with the win and improved to 11-8 overall and 3-5 in Southeastern Conference matches. Arkansas falls to 13-8, 6-4.
A&M returns to Reed Arena on Sunday to play host to league-leader and 11th-ranked Missouri. First serve against the Tigers, who are 24-0 overall and 8-0 in the SEC, is slated for 1:30 p.m. Fans can get in for only $3 by presenting a ticket from Saturday’s Texas A&M-Vanderbilt football game.
Visit AggieAthletics.com for more information on Texas A&M volleyball. Aggie fans also can keep up to date with the A&M volleyball team on Facebook and on Twitter by following @AggieVolleyball.