COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- Texas A&M won its seventh consecutive match and moved into a tie for first place in the Southeastern Conference standings with an intense 27-25, 25-23, 25-23 victory over Missouri today at Reed Arena.
Texas A&M redshirt middle blocker Jazzmin Babers, who leads the SEC in hitting efficiency in conference matches, hit a blistering .591 with a match-high 16 kills as the Aggies improved to 16-6 overall and 9-2 in conference matches. Sophomore outside hitter Kiara McGee and senior middle blocker Shelby Sullivan also posted double-figure kills with 14 and 11, respectively, with Sullivan hitting at a .429 clip.
Sophomore setter Stephanie Aiple dished out 47 assists, an A&M record for a three-set match at Reed, while directing the Aggie offense to a .252 hitting percentage. The reigning SEC Player of the Week and three-time SEC Setter of the Week also pitched in 10 digs to notch her team-leading fifth double-double of the season.
A&M sophomore libero Amy Nettles led all players with 14 digs to pace the Aggies to a 52-34 lead in team digs.
Kira Larson had a team-high 13 kills for Missouri (20-4, 8-3 SEC), which entered the match tied with A&M for second place in the SEC and was aiming to join Kentucky atop the league standings.
The Tigers jumped out to a 4-1 lead to open the match, but A&M fought back, tying the score five times before Aiple served an ace to give the Aggies their first lead, 9-8. The lead was short-lived as Missouri countered with a kill and a block to regain the lead, and the Tigers would go on to build a three-point cushion at 16-13 and 18-15.
A&M then when on a 4-1 surge, spearheaded by Babers, who had two kills and a block in the run. Sophomore opposite hitter Ashlie Reasor knotted the score at 19-all with a kill set up by Nettles, but Missouri answered with back to back kills to go up, 21-19. The Tigers kept the two-point margin at 22-20 but were whistled for being in the net on their next attack. Sullivan tooled the Missouri block to record her sixth kill of the frame, tying the score at 22-all. The teams continued to exchange points, with Carly Kan's kill putting the Tigers at set point, 24-23. The Aggies fought off the set point as Babers came through with an off-speed shot on the slide attack that fell in for her sixth kill, tying the score for the 13th time. Kan struck net on the ensuing play to put the Maroon and White at set point for the first time, but Larson knotted the score at 25-25 with a kill. McGee then blasted a kill off the Missouri block to put A&M at set point for the second time, and Reasor closed out the stanza with a kill off the block.
A&M, which outhit Missouri, .244 to .205 in the first frame, outhit the Tigers, .577 to .303 in the second set en route to taking a 2-0 lead in the match. There were six lead changes and 10 ties, the last coming at 21-21 following an ace by Missouri. McGee got a kill and then teamed with Babers for a block to push the Aggies to a 23-21 lead, but a kill by Kan put the Tigers within 23-22. McGee then countered with her fourth kill of the set to put the Aggies at set point, 24-22. Missouri got a kill to get within 24-23 before Reasor once again capped the set with a kill.
A&M was outhit .150 to .083 in the third set but managed to get the win to complete the sweep. The Tigers, who had nine of their 14 blocks in the third frame, held a 19-17 advantage but had two miscues that allowed A&M to tie the score. The teams then traded points and with the score tied for the 10th time, 22-22, Missouri hit wide to give A&M its first lead since 14-13. The Tigers took a timeout but then hit wide again when play resumed, giving A&M its largest lead of the set and putting the Aggies at match point.
The Tigers blocked Emily Hardesty's attack attempt to fight off match point, but the junior outside hitter redeemed herself, getting a kill on the next play to close out a match in which neither team held more than a three-point lead throughout and every set was determined by the minimum two points.
The Aggies return to Reed Sunday, Nov. 8 as they play host to the Georgia Bulldogs. First serve is at 1:30 p.m. and the match will be broadcast on SEC Network +.