No. 16 Aggies come up short against No. 2 Longhorns
Austin, Texas - Texas A&M saw its four-match win streak come to an end as the 16th-ranked Aggies fell to No. 2 Texas, 25-21, 25-18, 25-21, tonight at Gregory Gym. It was the first regular-season match-up between the former longtime conference rivals since Texas A&M left the Big 12 Conference to join the Southeastern Conference in 2012.
There were eight ties to begin the opening set before Aggie freshman outside hitter Hollann Hans tipped the ball in for a kill to give Texas A&M its first lead, 9-8. The Aggies later built their largest lead at 14-11 following a kill by junior outside hitter Kiara McGee before Texas went on a 4-0 run to regain the lead, 15-14. A&M managed to tie the score three more times, the last coming at 18-18 on an Ashlie Reasor kill. The Aggies, who were outhit .310 to .222 in the set, then committed four errors during a 5-1 Texas run that gave the Longhorns their largest lead, 23-19, forcing A&M to call a timeout. Hans put down her fourth kill of the frame following the timeout, but Texas' Paulina Prieto Cerame countered with her seventh kill to put the Longhorns at set point. Senior middle blocker Jazzmin Babers kept the Aggies alive with a kill off the block, but A&M's next attack fell wide to end the set, 25-21.
The Aggies spotted Texas a 7-1 lead to begin the second set and were unable to make up the difference. Texas, which outhit A&M .406 to .171 in the set, went on to build a 13-5 lead. The Aggies used a 4-0 run to get within 13-9 but could get no closer.
Babers later had a kill down the line to put A&M within 19-14, but Texas reeled off five unanswered points to be serving for the set, 24-14. McGee's off-speed shot fell in for a kill on the ensuing play, and sophomore middle blocker Kaitlyn Blake and junior setter Stephanie Aiple teamed for a smothering block to extend the set. Blake then put down a punishing kill set up by a Texas overpass, and junior libero Amy Nettles continued the scoring run with an ace to put the Aggies within 24-18, forcing Texas to call a timeout. Texas' Morgan Johnson then got a kill coming out the timeout to close out the set and give the Longhorns a 2-0 lead in the match.
Texas held a slim 7-5 advantage in the third set before McGee had three kills during a 5-0 run that put A&M up, 10-7 in the third set. Texas called a timeout and then scored four unanswered points upon return to action to regain the lead, 11-10. A&M tied the score at 11- and 12-all before the Aggies committed several miscues during a 5-0 Texas rally. The Aggies fought back and managed to tie the score at 18 as Hans, who led the Aggies with a personal-best 14 digs, put down her team-leading 10th kill, giving the rookie her first career double-double.
Texas, which outhit A&M, .206 to .152 in the set, regrouped following a timeout and ripped off six consecutive points to be serving for the match, 24-18. The Longhorns' attack at match point sailed long, and Hans registered her second ace to put A&M within 24-21. Babers and Aiple continued the scoring for the Aggies, teaming for a block, before A&M served into the net to end the match.
The Aggies fall to 6-4 on the season after being held to a .179 hitting efficiency and being outblocked, 8-4.
Texas hit .305 for the match, a season high by an A&M opponent, to win its 20th consecutive home match and improve to 8-1 on the season. Prieto Cerame led the Longhorns with 16 kills.
After playing its first 10 matches away from home, Texas A&M makes its Reed Arena season debut on Friday as the Aggies play host to No. 6 Wisconsin. First serve against the Badgers is at 4 p.m., and the match will be broadcast on SEC +, available on WatchESPN.com. The match is the final pre-conference match for the defending SEC-champion Aggies, who open league play at Alabama on Friday Sept. 23.