The Official Website of the Southeastern Conference
The Official Website of the Southeastern Conference

Aggies top Rebels in 3 sets

2462 days ago
Texas A&M Athletics

COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- Texas A&M sophomore outside hitter Kiara McGee had 12 kills and junior middle blocker Jazzmin Babers added 10 kills and seven blocks to lead the Aggies to a 25-13, 25-20, 25-13 victory over Ole Miss today at Reed Arena.

It was the second consecutive sweep in a Southeastern Conference match for the Aggies, who improve to 9-5 overall and 2-1 in league play. Ole Miss falls to 15-4 overall and 2-2 in conference matches.

A&M was nearly flawless on offense and defense in the opening set, hitting .500 with only two attack errors and also posting three blocks and two aces. Ole Miss, meanwhile, struggled with its passing, which led to a .105 hitting efficiency.

A&M broke away from a 5-5 tie as junior outside hitter Emily Hardesty began a 4-0 run with a kill and then teamed with senior middle blocker Shelby Sullivan for a block. The Rebels committed two more attack errors to put the Aggies up, 9-5.

The Aggies later led, 16-9, when McGee pounded down three consecutive kills, including two courtesy of Ole Miss' errant overpasses, to put A&M up, 19-9. A&M later held a 21-13 lead before sophomore opposite hitter Ashlie Reasor put down a kill out of the middle, and sophomore setter Stephanie Aiple followed with a dump kill. Hardesty continued the scoring, caroming a kill off the Rebel block to put the Aggies at set point, 24-13. Sullivan and Aiple then teamed for a stuff block to close out the frame.

A&M never trailed in the second stanza and held a 15-9 lead before Ole Miss reeled off three consecutive points to get within 15-12. The Rebels served long to end the rally, and a block by Reasor and Sullivan followed by Reasor's kill down the Ole Miss block put A&M ahead, 18-12.

A&M later used another three-point run, which included a booming kill by McGee, a block by Babers and Aiple and a Babers kill, to go up, 23-16. Ole Miss got within 23-18 before McGee put the Aggies at set point with a kill. Ole Miss held off two set points, getting a kill and an ace before McGee put down her fifth kill of the set and her 10th kill of the match to secure the 25-20 win that gave the Aggies a 2-0 lead in the match.

A&M, which outhit Ole Miss, .220 to .139, in the second set, hit only .182 in the third frame, but it was enough as the Aggies held the Rebels to a paltry -.056 hitting efficiency. A&M quickly took control of the set, jumping out to a 9-2 lead behind the strong serving of sophomore defensive specialist Gabby Litwin, who had two aces during a 6-0 surge. The Aggies continued to pull away and later held a 21-13 lead before a kill by Babers marked the start of a match-clinching four-point run by A&M. Ole Miss fired long on its next attack, and Reasor put the Aggies at match point with her eighth kill of the match. Reasor then posted her season-high sixth block and the team's 11th block of the match, pairing with Sullivan on the play to seal the victory for the Aggies.

A&M hit .288 for the match while holding Ole Miss to a .064 efficiency and four blocks. Aiple dished out 33 assists in the win, while sophomore libero Amy Nettles headed up the Aggies' backrow passing and defense, posting a team-high 12 digs. Litwin pitched in a career-high nine digs and had two of the Aggies' five aces. Kate Gibson led the Rebels with 12 kills but was held to a .053 hitting efficiency. Kristen Brashear led all players with 14 digs. Senior middle blocker Nakeyta Clair, who entered the match leading the SEC with a .447 season hitting efficiency, was held to a .000 hitting performance, posting six kills while also committing six errors.

A&M, which improved to 11-0 in the all-time series against the Rebels, hits the road next weekend, taking on defending SEC champion and preseason favorite Florida on Friday, Oct. 9 in Gainesville and facing South Carolina on Sunday Oct. 11 in Columbia. The match against the Gators begins at 6 p.m. (CT) and will be broadcast on SEC Network +. The match against the Gamecocks begins at 12 p.m. (CT) and will be televised by the SEC Network.

Texas A&M post-match quotes:

Head Coach Laurie Corbelli

On enjoying the win...
"It's a pure joy. All these players are so good and are so talented that when they all play well on the same day it is very difficult to beat us, and we sometimes come with a team that comes and goes, but that's volleyball, too. The team that we just played was 15-3. They know how to win. We just kept doing what we do with everybody on their game, and we made it look easy."

On the importance of the third set...
"Every time they tried to come back and they tried to get that momentum going, then we'd come back and get the point and maybe another point. Then we'd get some points back-to-back. That can really shoot down the spirits of your opponents." On the blocking...
"In my years here I've emphasized blocking a lot. It's such an awesome way of letting your opponent know that you're the one in charge. It can be so devastating for attackers. You have to teach your blockers to make sure they know how important it is. We do it every day. We do it between drills and a little bit here and there, and it is really adding up for us this season." On the Improvements from the Arkansas loss...
"There was an improvement from the Arkansas match to the Auburn match. It was like night and day. Arkansas had a lot to do with it last Sunday. A lot of that was a mental battle. They came at us with a confident attitude and didn't let us get into a rhythm. I truly believe that we are getting better with each game. Our serve-receive is better, and so is our defense. Everyone has seen our blocking improve. In my mind our blocking gets better as we go along. We are at our best near the end of the season." On the upcoming matchup verse Florida...
"I think it's a great time for us to go to Florida. We don't feel like we have played our best there in the past. It's only been a few years but we know we can do better. We know we are a better team who has a better feel for our identity. I think the momentum will push us towards us to our goal."

Sophomore outside hitter Ashlie Reasor:

On blocking and how her momentum played a role in the win...
"I think everyone was just on today. There was no one that could stop us. Whenever you get a block, you get that much more excited. It's a big momentum shifter, especially coming out of a timeout, or the last point you want to get the block to have the momentum." On finishing games...
"You always want to end with a block or a kill. I think that ending with a block or a kill sends a statement to the other team. Like we worked just as hard as you did and we can end it quickly. So getting a block on the last point was really fun." On a moment in the game that stuck out to her...
"Honestly when we walked on to the court. You could tell everyone had the mindset of we're winning at home after the loss against Arkansas at home. No one is going to come into Reed Arena and beat us, that's not okay at all. Everyone could tell right when we stepped on the court with the first ball, the first couple of points everyone was ready for this." On the mindset going into the game:
"We wanted to make a statement. Coming out in the first SEC game, that's not okay on any level, and we wanted to come out and make a statement at home that we should not have lost that game and to prove we can come back from that and handle adversity well." On how they plan on keeping the momentum up in practice for the upcoming week:
"I think stay hungry and work just as hard in practice. We want to beat Florida. The past couple years haven't been the best matches, I think they're also struggling. There have been some upsets there, and I think we're ready to upset them as well."

Sophomore outside hitter Kiara McGee:

On Ole Miss' over passing...
"That also builds on the momentum. They're over passing so we're getting points and they're having to think 'Oh what are we doing wrong.' They are crashing and burning themselves. They're setting us up and making it easy for us to get kills." On how she was feeling on her all-around game...
"I feel a lot more confident in myself, definitely more than last year just trusting myself more. I know what I can do and what I'm capable of, so I am going out there and proving myself every day."