COLLEGE STATION, TX -- Texas A&M (15-4, 7-3 SEC) begins the second half of Southeastern Conference play on Sunday against its toughest opponent of the conference season, 11th-ranked and league leader Florida (16-2, 10-0 SEC). First serve is at 1 p.m. at Reed Arena, and the match will be nationally televised on ESPNU.
Texas A&M still leads the SEC Western Division by one game over Arkansas despite getting swept in its last two matches. While the Aggies are looking to refocus after suffering consecutive losses for the first time this season, Florida is riding a 13-match winning streak and has not been defeated since falling to No. 9 Stanford on Sept. 1.
• Halloween at Reed: wear a costume and get in for only $3
• Halloween costume contest: a $200 gift card will be awarded to the person judged to have the best costume
• Football ticket special price: get in for only $3 by showing a ticket from Saturday’s A&M-LSU football game
• Junior Aggie Club: pre-match activities for members include trick or treating with Aggie athletes, face painting and an appearance by Reveille.
FOLLOW THE ACTION:
• ESPNU: The match will be nationally televised by ESPNU with Michele Smith calling the play-by-play and Dorothy Franco Reed serving as analyst
• WatchESPN: http://es.pn/wvb-UFvsTAMU
• Free live audio of the match will be available on 12thMan.TV with Chelsea Reber and Casey Richardson calling the action
• Live stats will be available on AggieAthletics.com
• Live updates and other information can be found by following AggieVolleyball on Twitter
The Aggies hit the road to take on LSU in Baton Rouge, La., Friday, Oct. 26 and South Carolina in Columbia, S.C., Sunday, Oct. 28. The match against the Tigers begins at 7 p.m. at the Pete Maravich Center and will be televised by Cox Sports Television (CST). First serve against the Gamecocks is at 12:30 p.m. (CT).
Tennessee outhit A&M .381 to .186 on Friday, the second consecutive season-high hitting percentage by an A&M opponent, as the Lady Vols defeated the Aggies, 25-21, 25-19, 25-21, Friday at Reed Arena. It marked the second consecutive and second overall time this season the Aggies lost in three sets. Senior opposite Alisia Kastmo was the only A&M player to post double figures in kills or digs with 11 and 12, respectively. Senior middle blocker Lindsey Miller had eight kills and no errors in 17 attempts for a .471 hitting percentage. Thirteen players saw action for the Aggies, who were unable to get in sync or find their rhythm for the second match. Tiffany Baker led the Lady Vols with 15 kills and hit .636, a season high by an A&M opponent. The Lady Vols posted 53 kills to A&M’s 38, and also lead in assists (50-35) and digs (57-43). A&M led in blocks, 3-2.
SERIES HISTORY VS. FLORIDA:
• A&M is 0-6 all-time against the Gators.
• The teams last met Sept. 9, 2005, at the UTSA Dome Rally in San Antonio, where sixth-ranked Florida defeated A&M, 30-28, 30-19, 14-30, 30-26.
• Florida is 2-0 against the Aggies in matches played in College Station. Both matches were played at G. Rollie White Coliseum.
AGGIE QUICK HITS:
• Texas A&M maintains a one-game lead over Arkansas (6-4) for first place in the SEC West.
• A&M and Tennessee both have 7-3 conference records, second best in the SEC behind 10-0 Florida.
• A&M is 0-1 against ranked opponents this year, having fallen to then-No. 5 Southern California, 26-28, 25-14, 25-18, 25-20, on Aug. 24 at Reed. The last time A&M defeated a top-10 opponent was a 3-0 victory against No. 8 Texas on Sept. 16, 2010, at Reed Arena.
• A&M is No. 28 in this week’s Rating Percentage Index (RPI). Stanford is No. 1, and Penn State Nebraska, Texas and Oregon round out the top five. At No. 12, Florida is the top-rated team representing the SEC, followed by No. 17 Kentucky, No. 18 Tennessee and No. 26 Arkansas.
• The Aggies are receiving votes in the AVCA Top 25 Poll and are tied with Tennessee for 30th.
• A&M is the SEC leader in opponent hitting percentage (.155), as well as assists (13.34) and kills (14.46) per set in all matches. Nationally, the Aggies entered the week ranked 11th in kills per set and 18th in assists per set.
• A&M also leads the league with 13.31 assists and 14.28 kills per set and ranks second with a .178 opponent hitting percentage in SEC matches only. A&M is third with a .242 hitting percentage, fifth in digs (15.94) and aces (1.03) and eighth in blocks (2.22) per set in conference matches.
• Five A&M players who have appeared in 50 or more sets this season are averaging at least 2.0 digs per set. Senior libero Megan Pendergast leads the team with 3.87 digs per set for the full season and 3.97 per set in SEC matches only.
• A&M has led its opponent in kills in 16 of 19 matches and is 15-1 when leading in kills. Kentucky is the only team to defeat A&M when trailing in kills. The Wildcats defeated A&M, 3-2, at Reed Arena on Sept. 23 despite trailing in kills, 66-61.
• A&M is 14-0 when posting a higher hitting percentage than its opponent.
• A&M is 14-1 when winning the first set. No. 5 USC is the only team that has come back to defeat the Aggies after dropping the opening set.
• A&M used the same starting lineup in each of the first 17 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, who had been starting in the back row, and junior Allie Sawatzky at setter. Senior Megan Pendergast has started out every match as the team’s designated libero. A slight variation has been used in each of the last two matches, as junior defensive specialist Kelsey Kinley has started each of the last two matches -- the first two starts of her career -- replacing Reynolds in the starting lineup.
• Texas A&M head coach Laurie Corbelli celebrated the 500th win of her 26-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 514-304 for her career and 414-198 at A&M.
• Corbelli returns 10 letterwinners – including four starters plus the libero -- from last year’s team that went 23-8 and reached the second round of the NCAA tournament. She also welcomes one transfer and seven highly touted freshmen who represent the 20th-ranked recruiting class in the nation.
• Twelve of A&M’s 29 regular season matches will be against teams that appeared in the 2011 NCAA tournament. A&M is currently 5-4 against 2011 NCAA tournament teams.
• In their inaugural season in the SEC, the Aggies have been picked to finish second in the SEC West behind seven-time defending west champion LSU. Tennessee is projected to win the East Division and the overall SEC title. A&M finished third in the Big 12 with an 11-5 record in 2011.
• A major reason A&M leads the league and is ranked in the top 20 in the nation in both assists and kills per set is junior setter Allie Sawatzky, who orchestrates the Aggie offense. The 6-2 lefty averages 9.77 assists per set for the full season, but it also is the respect and attention she draws as a deceptive and powerful attacker that makes the entire offense more difficult to defend. Sawatzky leads all SEC setters with 1.81 kills per set. She has twice led or tied for the team lead in kills in a match this season, and her six double-doubles ties senior outside hitter Tori Mellinger for most on the team.
• Senior middle blocker Lindsey Miller and Allie Sawatzky have started every match of their careers. The match against Delaware earlier this season marked Miller’s 100th consecutive start, and she has now started 111 consecutive matches. Sawatzky has started all 80 matches throughout her career.
• Lindsey Miller, who has tied or led the team in blocks in 14 of 19 matches this season, leads A&M and is fifth in the SEC with 1.10 blocks per set for the full season. Miller, who entered the week ranked 103rd in the nation with 1.14 blocks per set, has led the team in both total blocks and blocks per set, as well as hitting percentage, in the season final stats every year during her career, and she ranks fifth in the A&M career records with 360 block assists, and she is seventh in the career annals with 411 total blocks and 1,120 points. She needs only 13 points to move into eighth in the A&M career records.
• 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 10th in the league with 3.87 digs per set for the full season and is eighth in the SEC with 3.97 digs per set in conference matches only. She has posted double-figure digs in 14 of 19 matches, including three matches in which she had 20 or more digs.
• Showing the balance of the team, 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.
• Tori Mellinger, considered one of the most complete players on the team, is ranked in the SEC top 20 in kills, digs and points per set in conference matches only and in the top 20 in kills and digs for the full season. She is averaging 2.94 kills, 3.25 digs and 3.36 points per set in SEC contests only and 2.87 kills, 3.10 digs and 3.24 points per set in all matches.
• Alisia Kastmo has had double-figure kills in a team-leading 13 matches this season, including three 20-plus kill performances. She leads A&M and ranks ninth in the SEC with 3.58 kills per set for the full season. She is fifth in the league in SEC matches only with 3.74 kills per set. In addition, Kastmo is eighth with 4.00 points per set for the full season and 4.07 points per set in SEC contests only.
• Allie Sawatzky ranks eighth in the A&M records with 2,890 career assists.
• Freshman outside hitter Angela Lowak has appeared in each of the last nine matches as an outside hitter. Freshman Shelby Sullivan, the first middle blocker off the bench, has seen action in each of the last five matches, as has freshman outside hitter Shelbi Vaughan, who had a career-high eight kills and three blocks in four sets at Arkansas. Freshman Sierra Patrick has seen action in six of the last eight matches, mainly playing in the back row.
• 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.
• The Gators are 16-2 overall and lead the SEC with a perfect 10-0 ledger in league play. Florida, which was picked to finish third in the SEC East, is ranked No. 11 in this week’s coaches Top 25 and is riding a 13-match winning streak.
• Florida entered the week ranked third in the country with a .313 hitting percentage. The Gators enter the match against A&M hitting .316 for the season and are holding opponents to a .175 hitting efficiency after outhitting Alabama, .405 to .036 in a 25-19, 25-16, 25-14 victory against the Crimson Tide on Friday in Tuscaloosa.
• The Gators are 11-0 in home matches, 5-0 in away matches and 0-2 at neutral sites.
• Florida’s two losses were a 3-0 setback to then No. 2 Texas on Aug. 31 and a 3-1 decision against No. 9 Stanford on Sept. 1 at the NIKE Big Four Classic, hosted by Penn State.
• Freshman outside hitter Ziva Recek leads the team with 3.92 kills per set while hitting .307, and junior middle blocker Chloe Mann is averaging 3.88 kills per set and hitting an SEC-best .435.
• Florida leads the SEC with 1.56 aces per set. Individually, sophomore defensive specialist Taylor Unroe leads the Gators and is second in the SEC with 0.35 aces per set for the full season.
• Junior setter Taylor Brauneis leads the SEC with 11.47 assists per set for the full season.
• In conference matches only, Florida leads the league with a .305 hitting percentage and a .166 opponent hitting percentage. Individually, Mann is hitting a league-best .484, and Brauneis leads the SEC with 11.46 assists per set in conference matches only.
• Mary Wise is in her 22nd season as head coach of the Gators.