COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- Texas A&M (24-5, 16-4 SEC) received an at-large bid to the 2012 NCAA Volleyball Championship and will face North Carolina State (22-9, 12-8 ACC) in the first round, Thursday, Nov. 29 at Gregory Gym in Austin, Texas.
The match against the Wolfpack, an at-large representative from the Atlantic Coast Conference, begins at 4 p.m. and will be followed by a first-round match between No. 3 seed Texas and Colgate at 7 p.m. The two winners will meet in the second round, Friday at 7 p.m. at Gregory Gym, with the winner earning a berth into the Austin Regional, Dec. 7-8, also at Gregory Gym.
Tickets to the Austin site are available online at 12thManFoundation.com or by calling 888-99-AGGIE.
Texas A&M, which is making its 20th overall appearance in the NCAA tournament, including its 16th under 20-year head coach Laurie Corbelli, closed out its inaugural Southeastern Conference campaign on a nine-match winning streak to capture the SEC Western Division championship and finish second overall to Florida, which received the league’s automatic bid and a No. 14 seed. The Aggies are 15-1 away from their home court, Reed Arena, with the only loss occurring at No. 16 seed Kentucky.
NC State finished tied for fourth in the ACC regular-season standings and is coming off a 3-2 loss at No. 23 North Carolina. The Wolfpack is making its second appearance in the NCAA tournament, with its only other appearance resulting in a first-round 15-13, 15-5, 15-8 loss to Kentucky in 1987.
Colgate, 17-13 overall, earned an automatic bid by defeating American to win the Patriot League Championship for the first time in 13 years. The Raiders are making their third NCAA tournament appearance and their first since 1999. Colgate is 0-2 in the tournament, suffering a 15-7, 15-4, 15-7 first-round loss to Pacific in its most recent appearance.
No. 3 seed Texas is 23-4 overall and received an automatic berth by winning the Big 12 Conference with a 15-1 record. The Longhorns are coming off a tough five-set loss at 18th-ranked Iowa State, which snapped the Longhorns’ 17-match winning streak. Texas is making its 29th overall and ninth consecutive appearance in the NCAA tournament. Last year the Longhorns fell to eventual national champion UCLA, 19-25, 25-22, 25-22, 25-21, in the Lexington, Kentucky Regional final.
FOLLOW THE ACTION:
Live audio of A&M matches will be available free on AggieAthletics.com with Chelsea Reber and Matt Simon or Allie Freiwald calling the action. Live stats also will be available on AggieAthletics.com, and live updates and other information can be found by following @AggieVolleyball on Twitter. In addition, all matches played at the Austin site will be televised by the Longhorn Network.
TEXAS A&M TOURNAMENT NOTES:
A&M is making its 20th overall appearance (1981, ‘82, ‘85, ‘86, ‘93, ‘94, ‘95, ‘96, ‘97, ‘98,’ 99, 2000, ‘01, ‘02, ‘03, ‘04, ‘05, ’09, ’11, ‘12) since the inception of the tournament in 1981…A&M sports a 23-19 (.548) all-time record in the NCAA tournament, including a 21-15 (.583) mark during Corbelli’s A&M tenure...A&M’s best finish in an NCAA tournament was a regional final appearance in both 1999 and 2001… A&M was a No. 16 seed last year and was selected to host first and second rounds. The Aggies defeated Lipscomb, 3-1, in the first round and then fell to then-future SEC foe Kentucky, 3-0, in the second round…The SEC has five teams in the tournament field. In addition to Texas A&M, the SEC teams are No. 14 seed Florida, No. 16 seed Kentucky, Tennessee and Arkansas. Florida earned the SEC automatic bid by winning the conference title with a 19-1 record...The Aggies are 4-5 this year against the teams in the NCAA tournament field.
NCAA TOURNAMENT NOTES:
Thirty-one conferences were awarded automatic qualification, and the remaining 33 slots were filled with at-large selections to complete the bracket...The top 16 teams were seeded nationally and placed within four regions...Sixteen first-and second-round matches will be played Nov. 29-Dec. 1 on the campuses of participating institutions...Winners will advance to four predetermined regional sites: Berkeley, Calif., West Lafayette, Ind., Omaha, Neb., and Austin...The four regional winners will meet at the Final Four, to be held at the KFC Yum! Center, in Louisville, Ky., Dec. 13 and 15...Penn State is the No. 1 seed…UCLA is the defending national champion...For complete tournament bracket and information, visit the NCAA official Website at www.NCAAsports.com.
TEXAS A&M RECENT RESULTS:
Texas A&M closed out the regular season on a nine match winning streak after defeating both Tennessee and Ole Miss, 3-2, on the road last week. The Aggies picked up their biggest win of the season last Wednesday, defeating defending SEC champion and preseason league favorite Tennessee, 15-25, 25-22, 25-20, 27-29, 15-9, at Thompson-Boling Arena. Junior setter Allie Sawatzky dished out a career-high 66 assists as four A&M players posted double figures in kills. Alisia Kastmo led the Aggies with 18 kills, and Lindsey Miller pitched in a then-season-high 17 kills while hitting at a .593 clip. Tori Mellinger had 13 kills, and freshman Shelby Sullivan came off the bench to contribute a career-high 11 kills while hitting .494 in the win. Libero Megan Pendergast led A&M’s back row defense with a match-high 22 digs. Kastmo and Mellinger completed double-doubles as they finished with 12 digs each, and Heather Reynolds had 11 digs. Miller led A&M and tied her season high with seven blocks and also led A&M players with a personal season-high 20.5 points. Overall, A&M finished with a season-high 77 kills while hitting .282. Tennessee had 64 kills and hit .251 in the loss. The Lady Vols outblocked A&M, 13-10.
On Friday, Miller recorded a match-high 20 kills to lead Texas A&M to a 25-9, 24-26, 27-25, 20-25, 15-10 win at Ole Miss in both teams’ regular season finale. Miller hit .487 while posting her personal season-high 20 kills and reaching 1,000 kills in her career. Mellinger registered her 14th double-double with 11 kills and a season-high and match-high 22 digs. A&M outhit Ole Miss, .259 to .206 to improve to 8-0 in the all-time series and complete the season series sweep. A&M also led in kills (68-61), assists (65-59) and digs (70-59). Ole Miss led in blocks, 11-8.
TEAM STATISTICAL COMPARISONS:
Category TAMU NCSU UT CU
Hitting % .251 .203 .312 .179
Opp. Hitting % .172 .172 .171 .192
Kills per set 14.53 12.85 14.17 12.22
Opp. kills/set 11.79 11.76 12.30 12.47
Assists per set 13.60 11.67 13.10 11.22
Opp. assists/set 11.05 11.08 11.77 11.59
Aces per set 1.19 1.32 1.26 1.40
Opp. aces/set 0.63 1.03 0.86 1.28
Digs per set 16.41 14.92 14.31 15.26
Opp. digs/set 14.70 14.53 13.95 14.43
Blocks per set 1.97 2.38 3.06 1.29
Opp. blocks/set 1.97 2.27 1.52 1.39
SERIES HISTORY VS. NC STATE:
• A&M is 3-0 in the all-time series against the Wolfpack, but the teams have not met since 1990.
• A&M’s Laurie Corbelli will be coaching against NC State for the first time in her 27-year head coaching career.
• The teams met for three consecutive years from 1988-90. A&M won, 3-1, in all three matches, meeting at a neutral site (Gainesville, Fla.) in the first meeting, at Raleigh, N.C., in 1989, and at G. Rollie White Coliseum in 1990.
SERIES HISTORY VS. TEXAS:
As a longtime conference opponent and in-state rival, the Texas Longhorns are Texas A&M’s most common opponent in the history of the program. Although there are discrepancies in the all-time series between the two schools from the early years, here are several facts regarding the series:
• Texas owned a 26-2 record against A&M in regular season conference matches during the 14 years as members of the Southwest Conference (1982-95).
• The Longhorns were 21-11 against the Aggies in 16 years in regular season matches as opponents in the Big 12 Conference (1996-2011).
• The teams have met four times in NCAA tournament matches, with Texas going 3-1. Most recently, Texas topped A&M, 25-18, 25-18, 25-21, in the 2009 Omaha Regional semifinal.
• Texas has won each of the last three meetings and is 15-1 over the last 16 matches.
• A&M’s most recent victory against the Longhorns was Sept. 16, 2010, as the Aggies upset eighth-ranked Texas, 25-22, 25-18, 25-23, in both teams’ Big 12 season opener at Reed Arena.
• A&M has not defeated Texas in Austin since Oct. 6, 2001.
SERIES HISTORY VS. COLGATE:
• Texas A&M and Colgate have never met.
AGGIE QUICK HITS:
• A&M is No. 15 in this week’s NCAA Rating Percentage Index (RPI). Stanford is No. 1, and Penn State, Texas, Louisville and Nebraska round out the top five. At No. 12, Florida is the top-rated team representing the SEC, followed by the Aggies, No. 19 Kentucky, No. 21 Tennessee and No. 30 Arkansas.
• The Aggies were receiving votes in the AVCA Top 25 Poll as of Nov. 19 and were tied with Michigan for 28th. The next poll will be the final poll released at the conclusion of the season.
• Texas A&M’s 24 victories are the most wins since the team went 26-6 and reached the NCAA Elite Eight in 2001. A&M reached the 20-win landmark at Auburn on Nov. 9, marking the 14th 20-plus win season in head coach Laurie Corbelli’s 20-year tenure.
• A&M is ranked 12th in the nation and leads the SEC with 13.60 assists per set for the full season. A&M also leads the league and is 13th in the country with 14.53 kills per set.
• A&M also led the SEC in assists (13.68) and kills (14.47) per set in conference matches only.
• A&M is 15-1 away from Reed Arena, including 11-1 at away sites and 4-0 at neutral sites.
• A&M has the fewest receptions errors in the SEC, having allowed only 67 aces this season. The Aggies, who sport a .966 team receiving percentage, are led by seniors Tori Mellinger and Megan Pendergast, who have taken a combined 61 percent of the receptions and are good on 97 percent of receptions.
• A&M won the first set in each of the first 14 matches of the season and in 22 of 29 matches overall. The Aggies are 20-2 when winning the first set and 4-3 when dropping the opening set. No. 5 USC and No. 11 Florida are the only teams that have come back to defeat the Aggies after dropping the opening set. A&M has twice defeated Arkansas after losing the first set and came back to defeat Georgia, 3-2, after losing each of the first two sets.
• Five of six players who have appeared in more than 100 sets are averaging at least 2.09 digs per set apiece. The sixth player is a middle blocker who does not play in the back row.
• Five of seven players who have played in 90 or more sets are averaging more than 2.05 points per set apiece. The other two players are primarily back row players.
• A&M has led its opponent in kills in 25 of 29 matches and is 23-2 when leading in kills. Kentucky and Florida are the only two teams to defeat A&M when trailing in kills, and both of those matches were decided in five sets.
• A&M is 23-0 when posting a higher hitting percentage than its opponent and 1-4 when trailing in hitting percentage.
• A&M is outhitting its opponents .251 to .172 for the full season. The .251 hitting percentage ranks 36th in the country.
• A&M has used the same starting lineup in 27 of 29 matches with seniors Lindsey Miller and Stephanie Minnerly at middle blocker, senior Alisia Kastmo at opposite, senior Tori Mellinger on the outside along with junior Heather Reynolds, and junior Allie Sawatzky at setter. Senior Megan Pendergast has started out every match as the team’s designated libero. Kelsey Kinley started two matches -- the first two starts of her career -- in place of Reynolds in the back row.
• Texas A&M head coach Laurie Corbelli celebrated the 500th win of her 27-year head coaching career and her 400th victory in her 20th season at the helm of the Aggies in A&M’s season-opening victory against Texas State on Aug. 24 at Reed Arena. She is now 523-305 for her career and 423-199 at A&M.
• A&M’s 14-2 record equals the best start in school history after 16 matches. The 1984 team won 22 matches before suffering its third loss, and the 1996 and 1995 squads won 15 and 14 matches, respectively, before posting a third loss.
• In their inaugural season in the SEC, the Aggies were picked to finish second in the SEC West behind seven-time defending west champion LSU. Tennessee was projected to win the East Division and the overall SEC title. A&M, which finished third in the Big 12 with an 11-5 record in 2011, went 16-4 in SEC matches, including 10-0 in the SEC West.
• Senior middle blocker Lindsey Miller and senior opposite hitter Alisia Kastmo were named to the 10-member All-SEC first team, and junior setter Allie Sawatzky was named to the 11-member All-SEC second team, as voted on by the league coaches.
• Miller is the reigning SEC Offensive Player of the Week, receiving the honor on Monday after posting consecutive season highs in kills, with 17 in a 3-2 win at Tennessee and a match-high 20 kills at Ole Miss which gave her 1,000 kills for her career. She averaged 3.70 kills per set and hit a combined .530 for the week, posting only two errors in 66 swings. She also averaged 1.10 blocks per set, tying a season high and tying for match-high honors with seven blocks against the Lady Vols.
• Junior Allie Sawatzky, who became the first A&M player to be named SEC Offensive Player of the Week when she received the honor on Nov. 5, directs the A&M offense that leads the SEC and is ranked in the top 15 in the nation in both kills and assists per set. The attacking-minded setter averages 10.34 assists per set and leads all SEC setters with 194 total kills and 1.83 kills per set for the full season. She also averages 4.62 attacks, 2.09 digs and 2.29 points per set.
• Lindsey Miller and Allie Sawatzky have started every match of their careers. Miller has started 121 consecutive matches. Sawatzky has started all 90 matches throughout her career.
• Libero Megan Pendergast became the first A&M player to receive an SEC weekly honor when she was named SEC Co-Defensive Player of the Week on Oct. 1. The senior leads A&M and is seventh in the league with 4.01 digs per set.
• Pendergast has posted double-figure digs in 23 of 29 matches, including six matches in which she had 20 or more digs. Against Arkansas on Nov. 4, the senior had a career-high and match-high 32 digs, the second most digs by an A&M player during the rally scoring era -- including the 30-point scoring cap period -- and tying for eighth in the A&M all-time match records. The 32 digs obliterated her previous career high of 24 digs, set last year in a 3-1 victory over Baylor. Pendergast now has 421 assists this season, ranking 10th in the A&M season records.
• Lindsey Miller, who has tied or led the team in blocks in 20 of 29 matches this season, leads A&M and is sixth in the SEC with 1.06 blocks per set for the full season. She ranks third in the A&M career records with 401 career blocks assists and is sixth with 453 total blocks in her career. She also ranks fifth with 1266.5 career points, and her current .309 career hitting percentage ranks fifth.
• Miller has posted double figures in kills in 13 matches and is hitting a combined .477 when she registers 10 or more kills in a match.
• Tori Mellinger, considered the best all-around player on the team, is second on the squad with 2.76 kills, and 3.25 digs per set and is third with 3.13 points per set for the full season.
• Mellinger, who has posted double figures in digs in a team-leading 10 consecutive matches, ranks third in the A&M records with 1,462 career digs, the most by an A&M player since rally scoring -- including the 30-point cap -- went into effect in 2001. She needs 10 digs to surpass two-time All-American and three-time Olympian Stacy Sykora, who is second in the record books with 1,471 career digs.
• Alisia Kastmo has had double-figure kills in a team-leading 22 matches this season, including four 20-plus kill performances. She leads A&M and ranks ninth in the SEC with 3.59 kills per set.
• Kastmo posted a career-high and team season-high 25.5 points in the 3-1 win against Missouri on Nov. 16. She also tied her career highs with 21 kills and four aces. The Tyler, Texas, native now ranks eighth in the league with 4.08 points per set for the full season. In addition, she is eighth in the SEC with 0.26 aces per set in all matches.
• Allie Sawatzky had a career-high 66 assists in the 3-2 win at Tennessee on Nov. 21. The 66 assists equal the second most assists in a match by an SEC player this year. Sawatzky ranks fourth in the A&M career records with 3,361.
• Each of A&M’s starters was named to at least one all-tournament team in the three tournaments A&M played this year. Senior opposite Alisia Kastmo, the MVP of the Delaware Invitational, and Allie Sawatzky appeared on two all-tournament teams. Senior middle blocker Stephanie Minnerly, the MVP of the Yale Classic, senior outside hitter Tori Mellinger, junior outside hitter Heather Reynolds and Lindsey Miller and have each appeared on one all-tournament team.
• Sophomore defensive specialist Hannah Hood (Westlake High School) and freshman outside hitter Sierra Patrick (Lake Travis High School) both hail from Austin. In addition, freshmen Angela Lowak and Jazzmin Babers were teammates with Patrick on the Austin Junior Volleyball team that won the 17 Open Division at the 2011 USAV Girls’ Junior National Championship. Patrick also helped lead Lake Travis, which is coached by former A&M volleyball player Jennifer (Wells) Kazmierski, to back-to-back state Class 4A championship titles in 2010 and 2011.
• Alisia Kastmo and Stephanie Minnerly both have graduated with bachelor’s degrees and are continuing their education as they complete their athletic eligibility. Kastmo graduated in August with a degree in finance and is pursuing a master’s degree in real estate. Minnerly, a fifth-year senior, graduated in December 2011 with a bachelor’s degree in university studies. She is pursuing a second degree, a bachelor’s of science in agricultural leadership and development, and is scheduled to graduate in May 2013.
• A&M inked three players during the early signing period: Victoria Arenas (L, 5-6, Cypress Texas, Cypress Woods H.S.), Emily Hardesty (OH/RS, 6-3, Plano Texas, Trinity Christian Academy) and Kaysie Shebeneck (S, 6-1, Racine Wis., Burlington H.S.). All three signees are listed in PrepVolleyball.com’s Senior Aces, a list of the top 250 volleyball recruits in the nation, with Hardesty receiving a No.81 ranking. In addition, Shebeneck was the 2011-12 Gatorade Wisconsin Volleyball Player of the Year, while both Arenas and Hardesty are on the first team of the 12-member 2012-13 All-Texas Team published by LoneStarVolleyball.com.
NC STATE NOTES:
• The Wolfpack’s 22 regular season wins are the most since 1982, when the Pack went 24-11.
• NCSU tied for fourth in the ACC standings, its best league finish since 1988.
• Senior setter Megan Cyr averages 10.09 assists and was named to the 18-member All-ACC Team. She played two years at former Big 12 member Colorado before transferring to NCSU and is from St. Andrews, Manitoba, the hometown of Aggie junior setter Allie Sawatzky.
• Junior middle blocker Brie Merriwether leads NCSU with 2.50 kills per set and is hitting .307.
• Bryan Bunn is 56-40 in his third year as head coach of the Wolfpack. Prior to going to NCSU, he served three years as the associate head coach at Baylor.
• Assistant coach Jen Christian played volleyball at Texas for coach Jerritt Elliott from 2004-07.