STARKVILLE, Miss. - Texas A&M senior outside hitter Kiara McGee posted double-figure kills for the eighth consecutive match and freshman middle blocker Makena Patterson came off the bench and hit a school-record .909 with 10 kills in 11 swings to lead the Aggies to a 21-25, 25-13, 25-14, 25-11 victory over Mississippi State today at the Newell-Grissom Building.
The Aggies, who remain undefeated in the nine all-time meetings against the Bulldogs, improve to 9-15, including 6-11 in Southeastern Conference matches. Mississippi State falls to 9-23 overall and 0-17 in SEC matches only.
The Aggies got off to a slow start and dropped a set to the Bulldogs for the first time in the series. A&M got a kill to start off the opening set, but Mississippi State countered with four unanswered points and would hold a lead for the remainder of the frame. The Bulldogs, who outhit A&M, .194 to .125 in the set, equaled their largest lead at 22-17 before a service error and a block by A&M's Ashlie Reasor and Kaitlyn Blake put the Aggies within 22-19. MSU answered with a kill and an ace to go up, 24-19. An MSU kill error followed by a kill off the block by A&M sophomore outside hitter Hollann Hans put the Aggies within 24-21 before Jelena Vujcin closed out the set with her sixth kill of the frame.
The Aggies got on track in the second set and never trailed in the stanza as they outhit the Bulldogs, .417 to .000 with Reasor and Blake leading A&M with four kills apiece. Blake had back-to-back kills to break a 2-2 tie, and the Aggies would hold the lead for the remainder of the set. A&M used a 9-1 run, including two aces by freshman setter Camille Conner, to go up 19-8, putting the set out of reach. Blake later got a crushing kill and Hans and sophomore middle blocker Maddie Douglas followed with a block to give A&M its largest lead, 23-11. The teams exchanged points for the remainder of the set, with Mississippi State serving long for the final point and evening the match at 1-1.
Patterson was 6-for-6 in kills in the third set as A&M outhit the Bulldogs, .552 to .125. With the score knotted at 2-2, the Aggies used an 8-2 run to pull away. A&M continued to expand on its lead and built its largest margin at 16-7 as McGee put down one of her five kills in the set during a 3-0 run. Patterson would later get a kill to put A&M ahead, 23-13, and McGee and Blake teamed for a block to put the Aggies at set point. MSU got a kill high off the A&M block to stay alive before McGee finished off the set with a kill.
A&M carried the momentum into the fourth set, outhitting the Bulldogs, .414 to .029. MSU held a 6-5 lead before A&M used a 13-2 run to go up 18-9. The Aggies kept their nine-point cushion at 19-10 before freshman Samantha Sanders got a kill to begin a 4-0 run for the Aggies. Redshirt freshman middle blocker Elli Shadricks, making her first career appearance, followed with back-to-back kills, and Hans capped the run with a kill down the line, putting A&M ahead, 23-10. Vujcin tallied her team-leading 15th kill for MSU before Hans got an off-speed kill and then teamed with Patterson for the match-ending block.
Senior defensive specialist Gabby Litwin, who played her freshman year at MSU before transferring to A&M, led the Aggies with 15 digs and McGee finished with 12 digs to record her second consecutive double-double and her fourth of the season. Conner tied her career high with 46 assists, and Blake had a team-high six blocks.
A&M concludes the season at Alabama on Saturday. The start time has been changed to 12 p.m. at Foster Auditorium in Tuscaloosa, and it will be the final match for A&M seniors Amy Nettles, Litwin, McGee and Ashlie Reasor.