COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- Texas A&M extended its win streak to six matches with an impressive and intense 27-25, 27-25, 25-22 victory over 16th-ranked Florida State tonight at Reed Arena.
Outside hitter Angela Lowak led the Aggies with 14 kills, and sophomore outside hitter Sierra Patrick and senior setter Allie Sawatzky also posted double-figure kills with 11 and 10 respectively, as the Aggies improved to 7-1 overall and 2-0 in their own Texas A&M Invitational.
Florida State, an NCAA Final Four team only two years ago, suffers its first loss of the season to an unranked team to fall to 5-3 overall and 1-1 in the tournament.
There were 14 ties and six lead changes in the opening set, a foreshadow of how the entire closely contested match would go. The Seminoles equaled their largest lead of the first set at 18-16 before Aggies freshman Emily Hardesty and Patrick combined for back-to-back kills to tie the score at 18. FSU then hit wide on the ensuing play, giving A&M the lead and forcing FSU to call a timeout. The Seminoles got two kills coming out of the timeout to regain the lead, 20-19, but Patrick ended their run with a kill. Lowak followed with two more kills during a 4-0 run by the Aggies that put A&M ahead, 23-20, its biggest lead since 6-3.
The teams exchanged kills with a Lowak kill putting A&M at set point, 24-21. The Seminoles then reeled off three consecutive kills to tie the score at 24-all. Lowak once again put the Aggies at set point, but Nicole Walch kept the Seminoles alive with her seventh kill of the set. Walch, however, could not get around the suffocating block of Hardesty and Jazzmin Babers, who teamed for back-to-back blocks to clinch the 27-25 victory.
Both teams fought off at least one set point in the second set, which included 17 ties and nine lead changes. A&M went on a 3-0 run to equal its largest lead at 24-22, with Lowak getting the kill that put the Aggies at set point. FSU once again made a late rally, posting two kills and a solo block against Babers to take the lead at 25-24. Babers came back swinging on the next play, getting a kill on the slide attack to even the score at 25-25. Patrick then followed with back-to-back kills to clinch the set, 27-25.
FSU, jumped out to a 5-1 lead to begin the third set, but A&M quickly fought its way back, coming out on top after several long rallies and eventually taking an 8-7 lead. FSU tied the score at 8-all, but it would be the last tie of the set as sophomore middle blocker Shelby Sullivan broke the tie with kill.
Sullivan would later get a kill to cap a 7-2 scoring run by the Aggies that gave A&M its largest lead of the match, 21-14. FSU didn’t back down and won four of the next five points to get within 22-18. A kill by Lowak and an FSU attack error put the Aggies at match point, 24-18, but the Seminoles scored four unanswered points, including two blocks, to get within 24-22. Lowak however, would end FSU’s comeback hopes with a kill, finishing off the Aggies’ first win against a ranked win in six attempts dating back to 2011.
A&M outhit FSU, .234 to .194, and led in kills, 54-45, in the match that had 33 total ties and 16 lead changes. FSU led in blocks, 11-7, including seven by Ashley Neff. Nicole Walch led the Seminoles in kills with 14.
Kelsey Kinley led the Aggies with 14 digs, and Heather Reynolds finished with 10. Freshman defensive specialist Victoria Arenas nearly reached double figures, tying her career high with nine digs after drawing her first career start.
Sawatzky dished out 36 assists, and Babers led A&M with six blocks.
A&M closes out the tournament against No. 7 Michigan, Friday at 7 p.m. at Reed. General admission tickets are specially priced at only $3 for the match, and three-time Olympian Stacy Sykora will be signing autographs before the match.
Visit AggieAthletics.com for more information on Texas A&M volleyball. Aggie fans also can keep up to date with the A&M volleyball team on Facebook and on Twitter by following @AggieVolleyball.
Texas A&M Quotes:
Head Coach Laurie Corbelli
“This group has gumption. They can really dig deep. There has rarely been a time in this season already when I haven’t seen it, especially the 24-all two sets. We weren’t making a ton of errors. We are not an error-prone team. We make them earn it. It’s just such a great feeling because I have players that are doing their jobs really well. They aren’t trying to overplay. They don’t try to do someone else’s job. They have great leadership on the court. It’s a team with great chemistry.”
(On the blocking)
“I think it will still get better. Jazz is an incredible blocker, very natural, but she still has to work at it. There are parts that she’s only going to get better at and you’re going to be more amazed. Everyone will be. It’s such a great boost for the team. When you have the athleticism and the size, it’s only right to be a disciplined blocker. That’s the number one way to slow down a team serving and to dominate a team. I just believe in this team’s blocking ability. Even if they don’t block it they don’t care. They know they slowed it down or directed it. They are just really working on being good position blockers and good team blockers.”
(On libero Kelsey Kinley)
“She’s been playing some incredible defense. She’s reading hitters better and better. As a first-time, starting libero, she’s on the court all the time and is ready for that responsibility. She’s responding beautifully. I don’t think there’s a match that she hasn’t so far this season. The other thing she has offered us is that her passing average may be as high as we’ve had for any individual. Not only are they up to the target, but they are also at the right trajectory for Allie to be able to attack or set. Mariah Agre’s a setter and she has bump-set her whole career. She’s able to get that first ball and set Allie. That’s a ball they practice where she can turn and swing very comfortably because she can set her in the right spot. Once we get our defense more solid, we can really play with other teams at the net because it’s pretty fast and there are so many options we can go to. When you look at our total distribution of our season so far, 10 players have at least one kill per game. Most of them have two or three. It’s pretty tough to stop.”
(On beating a ranked team)
“It’s always a challenge at the top end of your sport to get a win, especially against a ranked team. I don’t know what this will end up doing for us with the polls. They are pretty unpredictable. We may have to beat five more ranked teams to even get a nod. We feel like we belong there but it doesn’t mean that we will get there, in the eyes of the polls. It’s important to me that the team feels like the work they are putting in, the talent they have around them and the staff that has put in the time to make them a better team are important. We are capable of doing those things and doing them consistently. For me, if we can do that, keep this level and improve on this level, I think good things will happen.”
(On finding holes in Florida State’s defense)
“Our offense is designed to really break up the blockers. It’s not really vertical. It’s very horizontal. Honestly, after an hour of all the moves they have to make to get to our outsides, get back in and then get back out, it’s a lot. I think if teams don’t practice against that all the time it can be challenging. I think our ball control got better and better. Kelsey, Victoria, Mariah and Heather were putting the ball on the money and allowing us to do that. We always talk about how it starts with that first touch and with our setters jump-setting. It works so we stick with it.”
Senior Setter Allie Sawatzky
(On being able to set to anyone)
“It is such a good feeling. I trust all of my hitters. I know that they are going to go up and do what they do every day in practice. They have confidence. They are going to go up and swing aggressively. That’s something that is really good about this year is that everyone is so confident with each other and themselves. They’ll go up and they know that they’re going to get the job done. It’s really easy as a setter because I can set anyone, and I know that will happen.”
(On the third set)
“We might have been looking ahead. I think we got in a funk. They ran a different offense that had lots of high shots and we weren’t used to that. We were used to the power-hitters. So I think that threw us off of our game a little bit, but in the third set we figured it out and got it going again.”
Redshirt Freshman Middle Blocker Jazzmin Babers
(On closing out the first set with back-to-back blocks)
“It was awesome to block those last two balls. I was just thinking if I block this you don’t have to worry about the pass, set, or hit. It just closes it out. I was really trying to push and block it just to get the set over with.”
(On first experience playing in front of bigger crowd)
“It was awesome compared to this morning. We definitely brought more energy. I feel like as a team we play way better when we are just having fun and are there for each other and supporting each other with as much energy as we can bring. I feel like we play at our highest like that.”
TEXAS A&M INVITATIONAL
Sept. 12-14, Reed Arena, College Station, Texas
Thursday, September 12
Texas A&M def. Siena, 3-0 (25-14, 25-23, 25-17)
#16 Florida State def. Siena, 3-0 (25-18, 25-9, 25-17)
Texas A&M def. #16 Florida State, 3-0 (27-25, 27-25, 25-22)
Friday, September 13
11:00 a.m. #7 Michigan vs. Siena
7:00 p.m. Texas A&M vs. #7 Michigan
Saturday, September 14 (Closed To the Public)
11:00 a.m. #7 Michigan vs. #16 Florida State
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