COLLEGE STATION, TX -- Texas A&M (19-5, 11-4 SEC) aims to extend its four-match win streak and stay atop the Southeastern Conference Western Division as the Aggies take on Auburn and Georgia in a pair of SEC road matches this weekend. A&M meets Auburn (17-8, 8-7 SEC) Friday at 7 p.m. at the Student Activities Center in Auburn, Ala., and then faces Georgia for the first time as a conference opponent, Sunday at 1 p.m. (CT) at the Ramsey Student Center in Athens, Ga., in a match that will be televised by CSS.
A&M is coming off a 3-0 win against Alabama and a crucial 3-1 victory over former SEC West co-leader Arkansas last weekend in College Station. Auburn also has won its last four matches after posting a 3-2 victory over Arkansas and a 3-1 win against Georgia last weekend. The Bulldogs have lost three consecutive matches and are 13-11 overall and 7-7 in the SEC entering a home contest against LSU on Friday.
FOLLOW THE ACTION:
Live video of the A&M-Auburn match will be available on AggieAthletics.com to 12th Man TV premium subscribers
The A&M-Georgia match will be televised live on CSS/Comcast with Melissa Lee and Missy Whittemore calling the action. The match also will be streamed online at ESPN3 (WatchESPN.com) to eligible viewing audiences. Check provider listing for availability.
Live stats will be available on AggieAthletics.com
Live updates and other information can be found by following AggieVolleyball on Twitter
The Aggies return home for their final home match of the regular season Friday, Nov. 16 as they play host to Missouri at 6:30 p.m. at Reed Arena. A&M's five seniors -- Alisia Kastmo, Tori Mellinger, Lindsey Miller, Stephanie Minnerly and Megan Pendergast -- will be honored prior to the match.
Junior setter Allie Sawatzky captured SEC Offensive Player of the Week honors after leading Texas A&M to a 2-0 record last week, defeating Alabama, 3-0 (25-17, 25-22, 25-21), and Arkansas, 3-1 (23-25, 25-19, 25-18, 25-17), Friday and Sunday, respectively, at Reed Arena. Sawatzky had 46 assists, senior outside hitter Tori Mellinger had a team-high 12 kills and senior libero Megan Pendergast had a team-high 14 digs as the Aggies outhit Alabama, .322 to .194 to complete a season-series sweep against the Crimson Tide. Four players posted double figures in kills against Arkansas, including senior opposite Alisia Kastmo, who had a team-high 15 kills. Pendergast led all players in digs with a career-high 32, and A&M retained sole possession of first place in the SEC West with the victory.
SERIES HISTORY VS. AUBURN:
A&M is 3-0 against Auburn, including 1-0 in SEC matches.
The teams met for the first time as SEC foes on Sept. 16 in College Station. Four A&M players posted double-figure kills, including a team-best 12 kills by both setter Allie Sawatzky and outside hitter Tori Mellinger, to lead the Aggies to a 25-22, 25-16, 25-27, 25-18 victory against the Tigers. Middle blocker Lindsey Miller and opposite Alisia Kastmo had 11 kills apiece. Mellinger also led in digs with 19, and libero Megan Pendergast pitched in 17 digs and four aces.
Auburn, which overcame five match points to win the third set, was outhit .208 to .175 in the match despite leading in blocks, 9.5 to 6.0. Katherine Culwell had a match-high 20 kills. The Tigers played the majority of the match without the services of their top hitter, Sarah Bullock, who went down with an ankle injury early in the second set and was unable to return.
The other two meetings were played at a neutral site. The teams first met Sept. 1, 1996, at the University Park Holiday Inn Classic, hosted by Colorado State in Fort Collins, Colo. The Aggies won the match, 16-14, 15-10, 16-14. The teams also faced off Sept. 8, 2007, at the UTSA Classic in San Antonio. A&M defeated the Tigers, 30-17, 30-22, 30-15.
SERIES HISTORY VS. GEORGIA:
A&M is 7-3 in the all-time series against Georgia and has won the last two meetings.
The teams will be meeting for the first time as conference opponents, as they did not meet in the first half of the 2012 SEC season.
The teams last met Sept. 17, 1999, at G. Rollie White Coliseum in College Station. The Aggies defeated the Bulldogs, 15-11, 15-5, 15-12.
A&M is 2-1 against Georgia in matches played in Athens.
Georgia's most recent victory against the Aggies was Oct. 28, 1994. The 19th-ranked Bulldogs defeated A&M, 15-11, 7-15, 15-7, 15-6, in College Station.
Laurie Corbelli is 2-2 in her coaching career against Georgia. She was coach of the Aggies in all four matches.
The A&M-Georgia series dates back to Nov. 13, 1982, when A&M defeated the Bulldogs, 15-12, 15-5, 15-10.
AGGIE QUICK HITS:
Texas A&M holds a two-game lead over Arkansas (9-6) for first place in the SEC West and is 8-0 in Western Division matches.
A&M is No. 24 in this week's Rating Percentage Index (RPI). Stanford is No. 1, and Texas, Penn State, Nebraska and UCLA round out the top five. At No. 13, Florida is the top-rated team representing the SEC, followed by No. 17 Kentucky, No. 20 Tennessee and Texas A&M. Arkansas is No. 26.
The Aggies are receiving votes in the AVCA Top 25 Poll and are listed 31st.
A&M needs one more victory to reach the 20-win milestone for the 14th time during head coach Laurie Corbelli's 20-year tenure. A&M is ranked seventh in the nation and leads the SEC with 14.64 kills per set for the full season. A&M also leads the league and is 14th in the country with 13.56 assists per set. In addition, the Aggies lead the SEC with a .163 opponent hitting percentage for the full season.
In SEC matches only, A&M leads the league in assists (13.65) and kills (14.62) per set.
A&M won the first set in each of the first 14 matches of the season and in 19 of 24 matches overall. The Aggies are 17-2 when winning the first set and 2-3 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.
Five A&M players who have appeared in more than 85 percent of the sets are averaging at least 2.20 points per set for the full season and in SEC matches only. Senior opposite Alisia Kastmo leads the team with 4.06 points per set overall and 4.13 kills per set in SEC contests only.
A&M has led its opponent in kills in 21 of 24 matches and is 19-2 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 18-0 when posting a higher hitting percentage than its opponent.
A&M is outhitting its opponents .252 to .163 for the full season and .251 to .183 in SEC matches only.
A&M has used the same starting lineup in 22 of 24 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 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 518-305 for her career and 418-199 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 are against teams that appeared in the 2011 NCAA tournament. A&M is currently 5-5 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.
Junior Allie Sawatzky is the reigning SEC Offensive Player of the Week and is the first A&M player to win the weekly honor for offense. The attacking-minded lefty setter not only averaged 13.14 assists per set, but she also averaged 2.29 kills, 3.0 digs and 2.50 points per set and hit .324 to lead A&M to a sweep against Alabama and a 3-1 victory over Arkansas last week.
Sawatzky leads SEC setters with 1.89 kills per set for the full season and averages 4.76 attacks per set.
Senior middle blocker Lindsey Miller is hitting .449 over the last six matches and has posted double figures in kills in four of those matches.
Lindsey Miller and Allie Sawatzky have started every match of their careers. Miller has started 116 consecutive matches. Sawatzky has started all 85 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 fifth in the league with 4.28 digs per set in conference matches only. She is eighth in the SEC with 4.10 digs per set for the full season.
Pendergast averaged 6.57 digs per set last week and has posted double-figure digs in 18 of 24 matches, including five matches in which she had 20 or more digs. Against Arkansas, 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.
Lindsey Miller, who has tied or led the team in blocks in 16 of 24 matches this season, leads A&M and is eighth in the SEC with 1.05 blocks per set for the full season. Throughout her career, Miller has led the team in both total blocks and blocks per set, as well as hitting percentage, in the season ending stats every year. She ranks fifth in the A&M career records with 377 block assists and 1188.5 points, and she is seventh in the career annals with 428 total blocks.
Tori Mellinger is second on the team with 2.77 kills and 3.27 digs per set and is third on the squad with 3.15 points per set. She ranks fourth in the A&M career records with 1,389 career digs, the most by an A&M player since rally scoring -- including the 30-point cap -- went effect in 2001.
Alisia Kastmo has had double-figure kills in a team-leading 17 matches this season, including three 20-plus kill performances. She leads A&M and ranks 10th in the SEC with 3.58 kills per set for the full season. She is seventh in the league in SEC matches only with 3.69 kills per set. In addition, Kastmo is eighth in the league with 4.06 points per set for the full season and seventh with 4.13 points per set in SEC contests only. In addition, she is eighth in the SEC with 0.26 aces per set in all matches.
Allie Sawatzky had 92 assists last week to move into sixth in the A&M career records with 3,108. She needs 96 more to move into fifth place.
Freshman Sierra Patrick has been a spark for the Aggies in the last two matches, posting consecutive career highs in kills, attempts and points as she played in every set in back-to-back matches for the first time this season. The 5-10 Austin, Texas, native had a personal-best eight kills and 8.5 points in a sweep against Alabama and then posted double figures in kills for the first time with 12 and added a career-high 13.5 points in the crucial 3-1 victory against Arkansas.
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.
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 Tigers are 17-8 overall and are in third place in the SEC with an 8-7 record in conference matches only.
Auburn carries a four-match winning streak and an 8-2 home record into the match against the Aggies.
Sarah Bullock and Katherine Culwell were teammates with A&M's Tori Mellinger on the Skyline Juniors team that took second at the 2008 USA Volleyball Junior National Championships.
Bullock and Culwell are both in the top 15 in the SEC with 3.44 and 3.08 kills per set, respectively, for the full season. They also rank in the top 15 in points per set, averaging 3.88 and 3.70, respectively.
Auburn is second in the league behind A&M with a .166 opponent hitting percentage.
Junior Camila Jersonsky leads the team and is third in the SEC with a .373 hitting percentage for the full season. She is second in the league with a .367 hitting efficiency in SEC matches only.
Rick Nold (Louisville, 1998) is in his second season as head coach of the Tigers.
Georgia has lost three consecutive matches and is 13-11 overall and 7-7 in the SEC entering a home contest against LSU on Friday.
The Bulldogs, fifth in the SEC Eastern Division, are 7-3 in home matches and 2-0 in televised matches this year.
Middle blocker Jasmine Eatmon was named the SEC Co-Freshman of the Week on Monday after hitting .459 last week, including a career-best .688 (11-0-16) in a sweep against Missouri.
Elena Perri leads the Bulldogs and is fifth in the SEC with a .365 hitting efficiency in all matches. She is fourth in the league with 1.09 blocks per set.
Allison Summers is averaging 5.04 digs per set in SEC matches, second best in the league.
Lizzy Stemke (Wisconsin '04) is in her second season as head coach of the Bulldogs.