NEWARK, Del. – Texas A&M won its sixth consecutive match as the Aggies cruised to a 25-12, 25-23, 25-16 victory over Delaware tonight at the Frank Acierno Arena.
Fifteen of 18 players saw action for the Aggies (7-1), including senior middle blocker Lindsey Miller, who has started every match in her career and made the 100th consecutive start of her career against the Blue Hens.
“It is really important that we establish a rhythm, and we usually start with our starters to get that rhythm and let our hitters have opportunities to feel in the match,” A&M coach Laurie Corbelli said. “So once we got that, we wanted to insert some of our other talent and start getting more opportunity to see what they can do.”
The Aggies dominated the opening set, scoring five consecutive points to take a 6-1 lead. Senior outside hitter Tori Mellinger later posted an ace to give A&M a 10-3, forcing the Blue Hens to call their first timeout.
A&M would continue to score consecutive points throughout the set, outhitting the Blue Hens .424 to .029 and widening the margin to 22-10. Delaware scored two to get within 22-12 before Mellinger posted two of her four kills of the set and sparking a three-point run to close out the set.
Corbelli began tweaking the lineup in the second set as a total of 12 players saw action in the frame. A&M went on to build its largest lead at 17-11 when the Blue Hens, who advanced to the second round of the 2011 NCAA Championship, began chipping away at the lead. With A&M holding a 20-15 advantage, Delaware scored five unanswered points, three the result of A&M errors, to tie the score for the first time since 2-2.
A kill by junior setter Mariah Agre and a block by freshmen Sierra Patrick and Shelby Sullivan put the Aggies back on top 22-20. A&M’s next attack sailed long, but Ashley Vrana blasted a kill off the block and Alisia Kastmo followed with an ace to put the Aggies at set point. The Blue Hens posted back-to-back kills before junior setter Allie Sawatzky got a kill clinch the 25-23 victory and give the Aggies a 2-0 lead in the match.
“I thought it wasn’t what the players who came off the bench did and didn’t do, it was more the passing kind of broke down and it didn’t allow us to get into a rhythm,” Corbelli said in regard to the close score of the second set. “That frustrated a couple of players who really wanted to go out and do some really nice things. But we were still able to win that second set and continue to get back into our rhythm. Tonight that’s really what it was all about was passing, and I thought our serving was not quite as sharp as it has been.
“We are still learning. We have seven freshmen, and this is match No. 8 and we haven’t gotten them on the court very much yet, so any chance I get, I just want to see how they respond in game situations and really just give them a chance to get the different feel that it is, because it is so different from training.”
Delaware took its first and only lead of the match at 3-2 in the third set, but a kill by Kastmo and a block by Stephanie Minnerly and Heather Reynolds tied the score at 5-5. Delaware then hit long to return the lead to the Aggies, and A&M would not trail the remainder of the match. A service error tied the score at 6-6 before Kastmo got a straight-down kill to start a four-point run.
A&M would post another four-point rally later in the set, with Kastmo getting back-to-back kills to put the Aggies ahead, 19-10. Three consecutive errors put Delaware within 19-13, but A&M got a kill apiece from Mellinger, Reynolds and freshman Shelbi Vaughan. A&M would later hold a 23-15 lead when Vaughan posted her third kill and Sawatzky followed with a solo block to complete the sweep.
Kastmo, celebrating her 21st birthday, led all players with 10 kills and zero errors in 15 attempts for a .667 hitting efficiency. Junior defensive specialist Kelsey Kinley led A&M with 14 digs, and senior libero Megan Pendergast also reached double figures with 12 digs.
Mellinger tallied nine digs to give her 1,180 for her career and move her into 10th in the A&M career record books.
Sawatzky and Sullivan led A&M in blocks with four apiece as A&M held the Blue Hens (1-6) to a .076 hitting efficiency.
A&M concludes the tournament Saturday against Columbia at 3:30 p.m. (CT). Live stats will be available at AggieAthletics.com.
Sept. 7-8, 2012
Frank Acierno Arena, Newark, Del.
Tournament Schedule (all times are Central):
Friday, September 7
Texas A&M def. Xavier, 3-0 (25-13, 25-15, 25-16)
Columbia def. Delaware, 3-1 (25-23, 25-18, 17-25, 25-22
Xavier def. Columbia, 3-0 (25-21, 25-14, 25-19
Texas A&M def. Delaware, 3-0 (25-12, 25-23, 25-16)
Saturday, September 8
3:30 p.m. Texas A&M vs. Columbia
6:00 p.m. Delaware vs. Xavier