COLLEGE STATION, Texas – Texas A&M fought off six match points to force a fifth set, but South Carolina pulled away to win the match, 25-19, 27-29, 25-15, 27-29, 15-8, tonight at Reed Arena.
The Gamecocks improve to 18-6, including 9-5 in Southeastern Conference matches, and complete the home-and-home season sweep against the Aggies. Texas A&M, playing its record-11th five-set match this season, moves to 13-13 overall and 6-8 in conference play.
Texas A&M junior outside hitter Hollann Hans reached double-figure kills for the 13th consecutive match and led all players with 20 kills and 22 points. Hans, who also had 15 digs to notch her team-leading 14th double-double of the season, had two aces, to move her into a tie for fifth place in the A&M all-time season records with 50 aces, only nine aces shy of the program record of 59 which has stood since 1983.
Texas A&M freshman middle blocker Mallory Talbert and junior opposite hitter Sydnye Fields each set career highs in kills with nine and eight kills, respectively.
Aggie setter Camille Conner had 46 assists and a career-high 21 digs to record her 10th double-double of the year. Senior libero Amy Houser led all players with a career-high 26 digs, and freshman defensive specialist Allison Fields also reached double figures with 15 digs. Freshman defensive specialist Taylor Voss, who made her first career start, finished with a career-high six digs, and the Aggies finished with a season-high 93 team digs.
South Carolina junior right-side hitter Mikayla Shields led a trio of Gamecocks to reach double-figure kills with 18. Mikayla Robinson and Brittany McLean pitched in 14 and 11 kills respectively, and libero Aubrey Ezell had a team-high 21 digs. Junior setter Courtney Koehler had 47 assists and also had six aces, the most by an A&M opponent this season.
The Gamecocks outhit A&M, .202 to .110, as the Aggies committed a season-high 35 attack errors. South Carolina had 13 blocks, the most by an A&M opponent this season, and A&M had four.
Texas A&M takes on Ole Miss on Sunday at Reed Arena. First serve is at 2 p.m., and it will be Military Appreciation Day.
Set 1 – South Carolina used a 6-0 run to open up its largest lead, 17-9, but a block by Sydnye Fields and Austin-Roark began a 6-1 run that put the Aggies within 18-15. A&M later used a 3-0 spurt to get within 20-18 but could get no closer as the Gamecocks, who outhit A&M, .276 to .074 in the frame, closed out the set on a 5-1 run.
Set 2 – The Gamecocks jumped out to an 8-2 lead, but the Aggies fought back behind Hans’ 10 kills in the set. A&M, which outhit South Carolina, .184 to .128, took its first lead at 12-11 on an ace by junior defensive specialist Haley Slocum, but in the end, there would be a total of 14 ties and 10 lead changes before a winner emerged.
The Aggies, who never led by more than two points, used a 3-0 rally to go up, 22-20, but the Gamecocks countered with a 4-1 run to be serving for the set, 24-23. Hans put down a kill, and Conner followed with an ace to put the Aggies at set point, 25-24, but South Carolina answered with a block and a kill down the line to be serving for the set for a second time, 26-25. Hans got a kill from the right side to knot the score at 26-all, but an A&M attack error on the ensuing play put the Gamecocks at set point for a third time. Sydnye Fields came through with back-to-back kills to put A&M at set point for the second time, 28-27, and South Carolina’s next attack sailed long to end the set and even the match at a set apiece.
Set 3 – The Gamecocks scored 13 consecutive points to jump out to a 13-1 lead. A&M, which was outhit, .290 to .056, was unable to overcome the deficit before South Carolina won the set, 25-15, to take a 2-1 lead in the match.
Set 4 – A&M used a 4-0 run to build its largest lead at 11-6, but the Gamecocks came back, using an 8-2 run to take their largest lead, 21-17. Back-to-back kills by Sydnye Fields put A&M within 21-19 before the teams began to exchange point for point. An A&M attack error later put the Gamecocks at set point, 24-21, but A&M got kills from Samantha Sanders and Talbert during a 3-0 run that tied the score, 24-24. A&M then committed a service error, but Hans tied the score, 25-25, with a kill. An A&M attack sailed wide to put the Gamecocks up, 26-25, but a service error knotted the score for the 10th time. South Carolina went up, 27-26, on a kill, but a service error and consecutive attack errors by the Gamecocks closed out a 29-27 win for the Aggies.
Set 5 – The Gamecocks jumped out to a 14-3 lead before the Aggies, who were outhit, .333 to .000, were able to string together consecutive points and get within 14-8. That would be the closest A&M would get before Koehler was credited with the match-winning kill.
TEXAS A&M QUOTES
Head Coach Laura “Bird” Kuhn
“That was a rough match for us start to finish. I just kept saying in the huddles this is that match where you have to grind. At the end of the day, it’s on our staff to figure out how to get the response to be different, the feeling to be different in those situations.”
On her mindset going into the fourth set…
“It’s a clean slate. It’s a new match now. I went back to our original line up, and I said it’s a new match. We win this one and go to five, and it’s the same game plan. At the end of the day, you just have to feel the vibe of the game and just go with it.”
On pushing another SEC team to a fifth set…
“We grind and we battle. There comes a point when you have to take advantage of your opportunities and finish.”
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