ATHENS, Ga. - Texas A&M came back from a 2-1 deficit to defeat Georgia, 20-25, 25-17, 21-25, 26-24, 15-7, and give head coach Laurie Corbelli the 600th victory of her collegiate career as well as her 500th win in her 24th season as head coach of the Aggies.
"This was pretty hard fought and a pretty incredible match," Corbelli said. "We haven't really been tested to our core like we were today. The Georgia team played unbelievably well. They just gave us everything we could handle and we started to back off for a little while we noticed, and we really made a choice to just take it one point at a time. We really had to fight back, and that's one thing I am really proud about. I knew that they could do it and they knew that they could. They had to just stay patient.
"To be the 500th, I will never forget it, for it to be this exciting. I told myself today's match I am going to enjoy every single bit of it. I am going to coach my tail off today, because this represents all of these matches I have been involved in. So I really did enjoy it. Every single bit I enjoyed. I smiled at the team every time they would look at me. I had a smile and encouragement, and it felt so good to not be stressed out. I just know that they needed me to be that way today, and so I am just really proud of my team."
Sophomore middle blocker Kaitlyn Blake tied for match-high honors with a career-best 16 kills while also hitting a personal-best .538. Senior middle blocker Jazzmin Babers had 14 kills while hitting at a .500 clip, and junior outside hitter Kiara McGee added 12 kills. Junior opposite Ashlie Reasor and freshman Hollann Hans also had double-figure kills with 10 apiece, marking the first time this season A&M had five players record double-digit kills in a single match.
Junior setter Stephanie Aiple directed the balanced attack, distributing 46 assists, to give her 3,008 for her career and move her into eighth place in the A&M all-time career records. She surpasses Chris Zogata, who had 2,962 from 1983-86. Senior setter Kaysie Shebeneck also saw action, starting the third set for the Aggies.
Defensively, junior libero Amy Nettles led all players with 20 digs, and senior defensive specialist Victoria Arenas added 13. Babers and Blake had four blocks apiece as A&M outblocked the Bulldogs, 9-4.
The Aggies, who entered the match 0-3 in five-set matches this season, improve to 12-7 overall and 6-2 in SEC play, as well as 6-0 against the Bulldogs since joining the SEC. Georgia, which has taken the Aggies to five sets in all three of A&M's visits to Athens as conference foes, falls to 13-8 overall and 1-7 in conference matches.
Texas A&M held a 9-7 lead in the opening set before Georgia reeled off four unanswered points to pull ahead, 11-9. A&M managed to tie the score five times, the last coming at 19-all when Georgia went on another 4-0 run to go up, 23-19. McGee ended the Bulldog rally with her fourth kill of the frame. Georgia, appearing refreshed and rejuvenated after having not played a match since Oct. 12, quickly closed out the set with back-to-back kills.
A&M outhit the Bulldogs, .500 to .471, while both team tallied 17 kills apiece in the set, but Georgia committed only one attack error and had three serve aces to aid in the win.
Georgia had overcome a three-point deficit to take its first and only lead of the second set at 8-7. A kill by Hans and an ace by Nettles returned the lead to Texas A&M, and the Aggies would hold a lead for the remainder of the set. With A&M ahead, 16-14, McGee put down a kill that marked the start of a 6-1 run by the Aggies. Georgia got a kill following a timeout to get within 22-16, but Blake put down a Georgia overpass and followed with her fifth kill of the set to put the Aggies at set point. Georgia, which was outhit, .444 to .269, in the set, countered with a kill but then served long to end the set and even the match at a set apiece.
The Aggies were up 13-12 in the third stanza when Georgia reeled off three points to take a 15-13 lead at the media timeout. The Bulldogs, who were outhit .289 to .238, led the rest of the way, winning a challenge and serving an ace to give them their largest lead at 22-18. A&M used a 3-1 run to get within 23-21, but Georgia tooled the A&M block for a kill and then served its seventh ace of the match to end the set and take a 2-1 lead in the match.
Texas A&M fell behind 19-13 in the fourth set and used a timeout to regroup. A&M came out of the timeout and went on a 4-0 run to get within 19-17. Georgia continued to lead, 21-18, when Blake got a kill and McGee and Babers followed with a suffocating block to put A&M within 21-20. Georgia used a kill to stay in the lead but McGee answered with a kill and Georgia's next attack sailed out, tying the score at 22-22. Georgia put down a kill, but Babers swatted an overpass off the Bulldog block to tie the score once again. Georgia's next attack was out, putting A&M at set point. The Bulldogs, who were outhit, .324 to .167, followed with a kill, but Babers tooled the block and Blake followed with a kill to end the stanza and tie the match at 2-2 and force a deciding fifth set.
Georgia jumped out to a 5-2 lead to begin the five, forcing A&M to call a timeout. The Aggies then went on an 8-1 run to take a commanding lead. Georgia got a kill to get within 10-7, but A&M reeled off five unanswered points, including winning a challenge and getting back-to-back kills to put the Aggies at match point. Georgia committed an attack error on the final play to close out the match.
Texas A&M, the winner in six of its last seven matches, returns home Wednesday, Oct. 26, for a pivotal match against Missouri, which enters the weekend 8-0 in SEC matches and tied with Kentucky atop the league standings. First serve is at 8 p.m. at Reed Arena, and the match will be televised on ESPNU with Maria Taylor and Tiffany Greene calling the action.