COLLEGE STATION, Texas – Texas A&M senior outside hitter Ashley Vrana came off the bench and posted a career-high 10 kills in two sets to help lead the Aggies to a home-opening 25-14, 25-23, 25-17 victory over Siena today at Reed Arena.
It was the fifth consecutive win for the Aggies, who improve to 6-1. Siena falls to 1-6.
A&M also got solid performances from sophomore middle blocker Shelby Sullivan, who had a career-high six blocks and added nine kills, and senior setter Allie Sawatzky, who directed the offense to a .323 hitting percentage while dishing out 34 assists. In addition, redshirt freshman middle blocker Jazzmin Babers had seven kills and three blocks, and senior libero Kelsey Kinley tallied match highs with 15 digs and a career-high three aces.
The Aggies got off to a slow start in the opening set, and the Saints held the lead throughout the early part of the set until A&M went on a 9-1 run to go up 18-12. A&M then gave up two points following a Siena ace and kill before the Aggies closed out the 25-14 win riding a 7-0 run. Sullivan had three blocks during the set-ending rally, including a solo block to clinch the set.
A&M tallied five blocks as a team and outhit Siena, .250 to -.045 in the opening frame.
The Saints once again held the early lead to open the second set before A&M came from behind to get the win. Siena had equaled its largest lead at 16-12 following a kill by Taylor Akana before Vrana unleashed on one of her six kills in the set to begin a five-point run, with Angela Lowak getting the kill that gave A&M a 17-16 lead. Siena twice tied the score, the last tie coming at 22-22, but was unable to take the lead. Vrana had back-to-back kills, the second kill courtesy of a Siena overpass, which put the Aggies at set point, 24-22. The Saints, who were outhit .417 to .366 in the frame, posted a kill before Sullivan ended the set with a kill.
A&M never trailed in the third set, and other than a 7-7 tie, led the entire way. The Aggies, who outhit Siena .278 to .179 in the set, used a four-point rally to build their largest lead at 24-16. Sullivan had begun the rally with back-to-back kills, and Siena committed errors on the next to plays to put the Aggies at match point. Siena’s Meghann Wright staved off one match point with her eighth kill of the contest before Sierra Patrick recorded the kill to clinch the victory.
A&M returns to the court at 7:30 p.m. tonight to take on No. 16 Florida State, a NCAA Final Four team only two years ago.
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 Head Coach Laurie Corbelli Quotes:
(On the A&M’s performance)
“If you look at the numbers for the match, it’s beautiful. We hit .323 and only had 13 attack errors. There were nine blocks and some really high percentages. In our eyes, these numbers are all that people see and that’s beautiful. Watching the game, it was obvious that we had a ton of jitters. We didn’t have a lot of energy. I don’t know what caused it. They wanted to have it. They talked about it. I suppose it was mostly nerves, and I’m really glad that match happened because we needed to spend an hour and a half out there getting that out. They are upset with themselves to some degree because they struggled with getting comfortable and trying to relax, but it’s a challenge because they are young and inexperienced at that. I was pleased to finish with the win.”
(On team preparation)
“There was excitement but they also put so much pressure on themselves. They want to do everything perfectly. They have all these perfect little plans on how it is going to be and how it is going to look. When it is not, they get disappointed very quickly and become very critical of themselves. We are still working through a lot of that stuff. When you play a team like Siena and they play low seams at your block, coming hard at your block to score, it is really frustrating. I didn’t think the frustration got us as much as our lack of being able to relax and get in our flow. Like I’ve said, it’s not always pretty but it got the job done and that’s all we can focus on.”
(On team leadership)
“I do have players that are very good at coaching, leading and directing on the court and I need them to do that. They were trying. I think sometimes it is not received completely. It’s a very intricate dynamic between players in volleyball. With verbal exchanges, facial expressions and the like, it all contributes to the dynamic. We are just learning how to read all of that from each other, especially in stressful situations.”
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)
3:00 p.m. #16 Florida State vs. Siena
7:30 p.m. Texas A&M vs. #16 Florida State
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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