Aggies roll past Hokies in straight sets
BAYAMON, Puerto Rico -- No. 14 Texas A&M concluded the Puerto Rico Clasico with a 28-26, 25-23, 25-15 victory over Virginia Tech today to improve to 3-3 on the season.
Aggie All-American senior middle blocker Jazzmin Babers led all players with 14 kills while hitting .407. Freshman outside hitter Hollann Hans, who was celebrating her 19th birthday, tallied a personal best 12 kills while making the first start of her young career, and junior outside hitter Kiara McGee also posted double-digit kills with 12 as Texas A&M recorded 53 team kills to Virginia Tech's 38. The Maroon and White also outhit the Hokies, .322 to .179, en route to the victory.
There were 10 ties and five lead changes in the opening set. The Aggies equaled their largest lead at 10-6, but the Hokies managed to take their first lead since scoring the opening point at 16-15. They went on to build their largest lead at 19-17 and still held a two-point cushion at 20-18 before Hans posted two of her five kills in the frame to tie the score at 20-20. She also tied the score at 21 with a kill, and back-to-back Virginia Tech errors returned the lead to the Aggies, 23-21.
Virginia Tech later staved off two match points to tie the score at 24, and the Hokies continued to stay alive by tying the score at 25- and 26-all before Babers and Hans put away consecutive kills to seal the 28-26 first-set victory.
The Aggies built a 19-12 led in the second set before the Hokies went on a 9-2 run to tie the score at 21-21, forcing A&M to call its second timeout. Hans then propel the Aggies to a 3-1 spurt with three kills to put A&M at set point. The Aggies committed an attack error before sophomore middle blocker Kaitlyn Blake got the set-ending kill to give A&M a 2-0 set lead in the match.
The Aggies trailed the third set, 8-5, before outscoring Tech 5-1 and taking a lead they would not lose. Texas A&M continued to pull away, outhitting the Hokies, .500 to .074, in the set. Babers would get four kills during a 5-0 run that put the Aggies ahead, 22-14. Only a service error ended the rally, but Hans got a kill on the next play, and Blake put down an overpass to put the Aggies at match point. Junior libero Amy Nettles then served an ace to cap the victory.
A&M senior defensive specialist Victoria Arenas took team-high honors in digs with 11, and Blake led all players with four blocks as A&M outblocked Tech, 7-2. Junior setter Stephanie Aiple tallied 41 assists.
Linsey Owens led Tech (3-2) with 13 kills but was held to a .167 hitting efficiency.
The Aggies host Chinese team Shandong in an exhibition game on Monday. The match will be played at the A&M Consolidated Tiger Gym, with first serve slated for 6:30 p.m. Admission is free.