COLLEGE STATION, Texas – Texas A&M suffered just its fourth loss of the season on Friday evening with a 25-21, 25-19, 25-21 setback to Tennessee at Reed Arena.
Meeting for the first time as conference foes, Tennessee outhit A&M, .381 to .186 to extend its win streak to five and improve to 14-5 overall and 7-3 in the Southeastern Conference.
A&M, which leads the SEC Western Division, falls to 15-4 overall and 7-3 in SEC play.
A&M fell behind 10-5 in the opening set, but the Aggies fought back, scoring four unanswered points to get within 10-9. Tennessee ended the run with a kill, but A&M countered with a tip kill by Alisia Kastmo and a kill by Stephanie Minnerly following a Tennessee overpass to tie the score at 11. Kayla Jeter kept the lead for the Lady Vols with a kill, but Kastmo tallied one of her five kills in the set and Tori Mellinger followed with a big out-of-system kill to give the Aggies a 13-12 lead.
Ashley Vrana got a kill down the line to give A&M its largest lead at 15-13, but Tennessee came back with two consecutive points. A service error kept A&M in the lead at 16-15, but Tennessee score the next three points to take a lead it would not lose.
A&M stayed within a point at 20-19 before Tennessee got a kill off the block and then scored two more points courtesy of A&M attack errors to build a 23-19 lead. The teams traded points for the rest of the set, with Kelsey Robinson clinching the set for the Lady Vols with her fourth kill of the frame.
Tennessee, which outhit A&M .444 to .231 in the first set, never trailed in the second set. The score was tied for the fourth time at 6-6 before consecutive attack errors by the Aggies and back-to-back kills by Tennessee gave the Lady Vols a 10-6 lead.
Tennessee would later score five unanswered points to take its largest lead at 19-10. A&M, which was outhit .220 to .106 in the frame, managed to chip away at the lead and got within 22-18 but could get no closer. Tennessee scored the next two points, including one that followed a long back-and-forth rally that put the Lady Vols at set point. Mellinger kept A&M alive with a kill before DeeDee Harrison posted a kill to close out a 25-19 victory for the Lady Vols.
A&M used a 3-0 run to take a 10-9 lead in the third set. It would be the Aggies’ only lead as the Lady Vols regained the lead at 12-11 and never trailed for the remainder of the match. A down-the-line kill by Lindsey Miller tied the score for the final time at 14-14 as Tennessee then erupted for six consecutive points to pull away. A&M got back within 24-21 before a kill by Robinson ended the match.
Kastmo posted her fourth double-double of the season with team highs of 11 kills and 12 digs.
Tiffany Baker led the Lady Vols with 15 kills while hitting at a .636 clip, and Robinson added 14 kills. Libero Ellen Mullins had a match-high 18 digs for Tennessee.
Tennessee hit .381 for the match, a season-high by an A&M opponent, while holding the Aggies to a .186 hitting percentage.
The Aggies return to Reed on Sunday to take on league leader and 11th-ranked Florida in a match that will be nationally televised live on ESPNU. First serve against the Gators, who are 10-0 in SEC matches, is slated for 1 p.m.
Texas A&M Post-Match Quotes
Coach Laurie Corbelli:
(On tonight’s performance)
Not much happened tonight. We certainly played very flat, very distracted and very individual, which this game absolutely does not tolerate. In general, it was just pretty ugly volleyball on our side of the net. There’s no excuse.
(On reasons for performance)
I really have no idea what caused the distractions for the individuals. As a coach, you do your best to prepare them and get them ready and then you put them on the floor. I did my best to get them ready and it apparently wasn’t good enough tonight. They are responsible for getting themselves ready as well, and that wasn’t good enough either.
(On numerous substitutions)
We were just looking for someone who could put the ball on the floor. The game hasn’t looked like it did a week ago against Arkansas. It didn’t look like us at Kentucky, and it didn’t look like us today, either. Lindsey Miller was the closest we had to a player playing her typical game. Error after error, they didn’t even block us. It wasn’t even like we were being challenged that much. We just couldn’t do anything. The disappointment is enormous.
(On the message for the team for Sunday)
We will look at the areas we have to improve in and get back to normal. We will probably watch ourselves play well on some video and some parts of matches that we’ve strung together. Then we will get the team back in the gym and get back to our regular routine. We will probably kick it up a notch in terms of responsibility and accountability. Right now, I’m just really disappointed.