2022 Texas A&M Volleyball season preview
COLLEGE STATION, Texas – The Texas A&M volleyball team took the court for the first time last week to begin preparations for the 2022 campaign.
Head coach Bird Kuhn’s core coaching staff of associate head coach Kolby O’Donnell and assistant coach Wendel Camargo remain intact for their fifth season together.
The trio is joined by new staff additions Evan Antal and Kyle Ferguson. Antal was brought on staff in March to serve as the program’s technical coordinator, handling all aspects of opposition scouting and statistical and video analysis of A&M and its opponents. Ferguson is the program’s volunteer assistant coach for the upcoming season.
NEWCOMERS (10 Overall, 5 Freshmen, 5 Transfers)
Ifenna Cos-Okpalla, Lexi Guinn, Logan Lednicky, Ital Lopuyo and Ava Underwood checked in as the No. 13 recruiting class in the country according to PrepVolleyball.com. It marked the second-highest ranked recruiting class in the Southeastern Conference and highest under the direction of Kuhn and her staff. Four of A&M’s five freshmen were named AVCA High School All-Americans in 2021.
Among the 10 new faces on the sidelines this year for Aggie volleyball are five transfers. Molly Brown (Purdue), Lauren Hogan (Syracuse), Mia Johnson (Hawaii), Elena Karakasi (Syracuse) and Caroline Meuth (Notre Dame) all bring invaluable experience to the team. Meuth was a two-time All-ACC selection, while Hogan landed a spot on the ACC’s All-Freshman Team during the 2020-21 season. Karakasi finished her career with the Orange ninth all-time in assists (2,486).
RETURNERS (7 Overall, 1 Returning Starter)
Senior Ciera “CiCi” Hecht is the program’s lone returning starter. The outside hitter finished the year with 60 kills, 156 digs and eight blocks as a six-rotation player. She logged a pair of double-doubles, including a career-best 15 kills and 22 digs against Ole Miss.
Fifth-year senior Allison Fields and senior Destiny Cox, who is in her second season with the Aggies after transferring from North Carolina, combined for 76 sets of action last year. Fields donned the libero jersey to close the year, turning in a career-high 27 digs in the season finale against Missouri. Cox recorded 62 kills on the right side, reaching double-digits twice including a career-best 15 kills at Tennessee.
Redshirt junior Madison Bowser is the Maroon & White’s returning middle blocker. She appeared in 11 matches last year, including eight in conference play. Defensively, sophomore Brooke Frazier appeared in 13 matches and 31 sets as a true freshman, finishing with 70 digs, 14 assists and three service aces. Despite limited action, Nisa Buzlutepe and Faye Wilbricht also return for the Aggies.
Texas A&M begins its 48th season in 2022 with the Texas A&M Invitational. The Aggies will be tested from the start as No. 6 Pittsburgh, No. 25 San Diego and Hawaii, who is receiving votes in the American Volleyball Coaches Association Top 25, all travel to Reed Arena, Aug. 26-28.
A pair of tournaments at TCU (Sept. 2-3) and Western Kentucky (Sept. 16-17), as well as home matches against Sam Houston (Sept. 6) and Louisiana (Sept. 9) highlight a busy non-conference slate for the Maroon & White.
The Aggies open SEC play on the road at Ole Miss (Sept. 21), before hosting Tennessee for their conference home opener on Sept. 24-25. The Maroon & White’s road conference slate includes stops at Georgia (Oct. 1-2), Arkansas (Oct. 19), South Carolina (Oct. 28), Auburn (Nov. 4-5) and Missouri (Nov. 19-20). Texas A&M hosts Tennessee, Mississippi State (Oct. 7-8), Kentucky (Oct. 22-23), Alabama (Nov. 2), Florida (Nov. 12) and LSU (Nov. 16).
The Aggies travel to Waco, Texas, Saturday for an exhibition match against the Baylor Bears at 4 p.m.
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