COLUMBIA, Mo. -- No. 19 Texas A&M won its first-ever conference championship, capturing the Southeastern Conference title outright with an exciting 19-25, 25-20, 25-27, 25-22, 15-10 victory over Missouri tonight at the Hearnes Center.
It was the 13th consecutive victory for the Aggies, who improve to 22-6 overall and 15-2 in SEC matches. A&M also improved to 7-0 in five set matches this season and handed Missouri its first home loss of the season as the Tigers entered the match 10-0 at the Hearnes Center.
Missouri, which was in a must-win situation in order to keep its title hopes alive, falls to 25-5 overall and 13-4 in SEC play.
Like it has done so many times this season, A&M had to fight from behind to get the victory. Missouri held a 2-1 lead in sets and had the momentum after going on a 3-0 run to build a 22-18 lead in the fourth set. Jazzmin Babers ended the Tigers' rally with a kill, and the Aggies went on to reel off seven unanswered points to close out the frame and force a fifth set.
After evening the match at 2-2, the Aggies took a 4-2 lead in the fifth set after a 3-0 run and never looked back. Kiara McGee later had two kills during another 3-0 surge that put the Aggies up, 10-6. Missouri cut the lead to 11-9 with a kill and a solo block before McGee ended the rally with a kill, and Emily Hardesty followed with a kill to the baseline to put A&M up, 13-10. Kira Larson countered with one of her team-high 17 kills to put the Tigers within 13-10, but Babers answered with her match-high 21st kill to put A&M at match point. The match ended on the next play as Julia Towler's attack was unable to clear the net, setting off a celebration by the visiting Aggies.
The match began with 10 ties in the opening set, the last coming at 13-all before A&M committed three consecutive errors. Missouri went on to build its largest lead at 22-16 following a kill and an A&M attack error. A&M managed to twice get within four points, the last coming at 23-19 on a kill by Kiara McGee, who led all players with six kills in the stanza. Missouri then equaled its largest lead after Towler put down back-to-back kills to close out a 25-19 victory.
Missouri outhit A&M, .345 to .188 in the frame and held the Aggies' two All-SEC middle blockers to a combined two kills.
A&M, which entered the match 2-5 this season when dropping the first set, including a 3-2 victory against No. 14 Florida on Sunday, used a six-point run to build a 7-2 lead early in the second set. The middles were much more involved, combining for nine kills.
A&M equaled its largest lead at 16-10, but Missouri went on a 5-1 run to get back within 17-15. A&M kept its two-point margin at 20-18 before Shelby Sullivan got a kill on the slide attack and Missouri had an error to put A&M up, 22-18. The teams exchanged points with a Missouri service error putting the Aggies at set point. Ashlie Reasor ended the set, attacking the second ball and getting the kill.
The third set was tied 12 times, and A&M fought off two set points before Missouri posted back-to-back kills to close out the 27-25 win.
Despite trailing the match 2-1, the Aggies began their comeback, winning the final two sets. Babers finished with 21 kills and McGee and Sullivan also posted double-figure kills with 17 and 11, respectively.
Stephanie Aiple, the SEC Player of the Year, dished out a career-high 62 assists, and sophomore libero Amy Nettles had a career-high 30 digs.
A&M outhit Missouri, .257 to .233, despite getting outblocked, 18-9. A&M closes out the regular season at Arkansas on Saturday. First serve against the Razorbacks, who defeated A&M at Reed Arena in the SEC opener on Sept. 27, begins at 1:30 p.m. at Barnhill Arena in Fayetteville. The match will be broadcast on SEC Network + via WatchESPN.com
The 64-team NCAA Championship bracket will be announced Sunday, Nov. 29 at 8 p.m. on ESPNU.