LAS CRUCES, N.M. - No. 16 Texas A&M recorded a 3-0 (25-16, 26-24, 25-20) sweep over Arizona to open the Borderland Invitational today at the Pan American Center.
The Aggies improve to 4-3 and will return to the court this evening at 7 p.m. (8 p.m. CT) to face the host New Mexico State Aggies. Arizona, which is receiving points in the AVCA Top 25 Poll, falls, to 3-4.
Texas A&M junior setter Stephanie Aiple ran a balanced offense, directing the Aggies to a .298 to .137 lead in team hitting efficiency while dishing out 32 assists to five players who had four or more kills apiece. Junior outside hitter Kiara McGee, junior opposite hitter Ashlie Reasor and sophomore middle blocker Kaitlyn Blake tied for team-high honors with eight kills each. Senior middle blocker Jazzmin Babers added six kills and also tied Blake with a match-high five blocks as the Aggies outblocked Arizona, 12-5. Freshman outside hitter Hollann Hans, drawing her second career start, added four kills and also finished with four aces, the most aces in a match by an A&M player this season.
Junior libero Amy Nettles had a team season-high and match-high 20 digs, and defensive specialists Katelyn Labhart and Gabby Litwin also played backrow defense for the Aggies.
Texas A&M took an early 2-1 advantage to open the first set and never lost the lead for the remainder of the frame. The Wildcats, who were outhit .241 to .031 in the set, had trailed by as many as five points but managed to get within 11-10 before Aiple started a 5-0 run with one of her three kills in the match. Arizona once again chipped away at the lead and got within 19-16 before Babers got a kill. Hans then stepped to the service line, where she would remain for the rest of the set. Hans served an ace, and then Arizona passed her next serve over the net, setting up McGee for the kill. Hans served another ace to put the Aggies up, 23-16, and McGee closed out the set-ending 6-0 run, teaming with Babers for a block and then tooling the Arizona block for the winning kill.
There were 19 ties and nine lead changes in the second set as both teams hit below .090. The Wildcats had taken a 20-19 lead following an ace but were unable to pull away as Texas A&M tied the score four times before Babers got a kill to put the Maroon and White up, 24-23. Arizona staved off one set point with a kill but then served into the net to put Texas A&M up 25-24. The Wildcats' next attack attempt hit the antenna, giving the Aggies the 26-24 win and a 2-0 lead in the match.
A&M outhit Arizona, .567 to .321, in the final frame with Blake, McGee, Reasor and Babers combining for 16 kills without an error. The teams were tied at 5-5, before A&M outscored the Wildcats, 5-1, to take a 10-6 lead. Arizona got within 12-10 but could get no closer. The Aggies built their largest lead at 19-13, but the Wildcats later used a 4-1 spurt to get within 20-18. A&M later was ahead 23-20 when Blake posted back-to back kills to cap the victory.
Kendra Dahlke led Arizona with 10 kills but was held to a .154 hitting efficiency.