Aggies upset No. 4 Florida in five-set thriller in Gainesville
GAINESVILLE, Florida -- The Texas A&M volleyball team claimed its highest ranked win in 24 years as it upset No. 4 Florida in a five-set thriller at Exactech Arena Wednesday evening, 3-2 (24-26, 25-23, 21-25, 26-24, 15-13).
The two teams traded sets throughout the night, but the Aggies came out victorious after a strong finish in the fifth set. A&M strung together four-straight points late in the final frame and scored four of the final six points of the match to secure their first win over top-five team since knocking off No. 3 Hawaii in five sets in 1999.
With the match on the line the Aggies (10-3, 2-1 SEC) and Gators (10-2, 2-1 SEC) traded points early, as the squads were tied at five. Florida tied together three-straight points to lead at the media timeout, 8-5. A&M scored four straight points to regain the lead and never trailed the rest of the way, sealing the upset on a kill from Caroline Meuth, 15-13.
Florida opened the match fast, scoring the opening five points. The squads traded blows as the Aggies brought the teams within three, 14-11. A&M continued its charge, as it secured its first lead of the match, 17-16. The Gators strung together a four-point run to make it 21-19, prompting a timeout from head coach Jamie Morrison. The Maroon & White came out of the timeout firing and were within one point of claiming the first frame, however, Florida responded to take the set, 26-24.
The Aggies started the second frame on fire with a three-point run spearheaded by Ava Underwood at the service line, as she served a pair of aces. A&M was the first to double digits, maintaining its advantage, 10-7. The squads traded points, but the Maroon & White held steady with their three-point lead, 18-15. Florida answered with a streak of its own, levelling the set at 18. Nothing separated the teams as they were all square at 22. The Aggies broke the deadlock with a 3-1 run finished by a kill from Logan Lednicky to take the set, 25-23.
Back-and-forth volleyball opened the third frame, as the squads were locked at six. Florida created a slight advantage, 9-6, as Coach Morrison called his first timeout to reset his squad. A&M answered the call, knotting the programs once again at nine. The Gators pulled away on an 8-4 streak, as the Maroon & White called their final timeout of the frame, trailing 17-13. Despite a late Aggie charge, Florida stole the third set, 25-21.
A&M opened the fourth as the aggressor on a 6-3 run. Florida flipped the momentum as it led at the media timeout, 15-12. Coming out of the timeout the Maroon & White caught fire with a 6-2 run, forcing a Gator timeout as the Aggies led, 18-17. Florida countered with a pair of scores as the teams were tied once again at 19-all. Regaining its rhythm, A&M applied pressure of its own and created separation to lead by three, 23-20, as the Gators called a timeout. With another change of momentum, Florida survived a pair of match points, knotting the teams at 24. Once again it was the Maroon & White who answered the call, ripping off a quick two points to claim the fourth set, 26-24.
The Aggies owned the advantage in attack percentage at a .250-.217 clip. The Maroon & White posted a .316 hitting percentage in the decisive set along with three blocks. Lednicky put home 22 kills with a .390 success rate and added six blocks. Ifenna Cos-Okpalla landed 12 kills at a whopping .750 percentage and posted a match-high seven blocks. Mueth added 12 kills and 19 digs.
The Aggies return to Reed Arena Sunday as they host Missouri with first serve set for 3 p.m.
Head coach Jamie Morrison on today’s match.…
“I’m so proud of my team and the way they showed up tonight. I thought our team made a conscious choice to be a team that would grind and that’s the thing I’m most proud of.”
Morrison on the team’s fight…
“This team didn’t count themselves out. I think it’s a trait this team has and that it’s something we have been building throughout the season.”
Morrison’s message in the final set…
“Pay attention to the little things that got us to this point, those little things that make us us. I thought we were getting after them with the serve, getting scrappy on defense and just playing our game which got us that win.”
- Logan Lednicky – 22 kills - .390 hitting percentage – 6 blocks
- Ifenna Cos-Okpalla – 12 kills - .750 hitting percentage – 7 blocks
- Caroline Meuth – 12 kills – 19 digs
- Margot Manning – 21 assists – 3 service aces – 4 digs
- Ava Underwood – 16 digs – 3 service aces – 6 assists
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