OXFORD, Miss. -- Texas A&M won its fourth consecutive match and improved to 13-0 in the all-time series against Ole Miss with a 25-12, 21-25, 25-20, 25-18 victory over the Rebels today at The Pavilion.
Junior outside hitter Kiara McGee had a team-high 15 kills while hitting .407, and sophomore middle blocker Kaitlyn Blake tied her career high with 14 kills while hitting at a .444 clip to lead the Aggies to a 56-47 lead in kills and a .269 to .122 team hitting percentage advantage. Blake, who leads the Southeastern Conference in blocks per set, also had a big day defensively, contributing a match-high eight blocks as she finished with a team-high 19.5 points.
Texas A&M junior setter Stephanie Aiple directed the offense, dishing out 42 assists, while junior libero Amy Nettles had a match high 18 digs to head up the backrow defense. Senior Victoria Arenas and sophomore Amy Houser also posted double-figure digs with 11 apiece in their defensive specialist roles.
Texas A&M improved to 10-6 overall, including 4-1 in SEC matches only. Ole Miss falls to 12-6 overall and 1-4 in conference matches.
The Aggies dominated the opening set. After the Rebels took their only lead at 2-1, Texas A&M took command, using a 13-3 run to cruise to a 14-5 advantage. A&M kept the pressure on the Rebels, reeling off runs of points while allowing Ole Miss to score back-to-back points only twice in the frame.
Texas A&M, which hit .286 while holding Ole Miss to a -.032 hitting efficiency, held a 22-12 lead when Aiple got a kill and Nettles followed with an ace to put the Aggies at set point. Ole Miss then hit long on the ensuing play to close out the stanza.
The Rebels regrouped and pulled away in the second set to even the match. Ole Miss held a 9-6 lead, but a serve into the net marked the start of a 6-1 A&M run, sparked by two kills apiece by Blake and McGee that gave the Aggies a 12-10 advantage. The lead was short lived, however, as Ole Miss countered with a 4-1 run to retake the lead.
Senior middle blocker Jazzmin Babers and freshman outside hitter Hollann Hans had set-tying kills at 14 and 15, respectively, before the Rebels went on another 4-1 run to go up 19-16, forcing an A&M timeout. Following the timeout, Blake put down two kills, and McGee also added a kill during a 3-1 run that put the Aggies within 20-19, but A&M, which was outhit, .361 to .278, was unable to even the score. The teams exchanged points until the Rebels, leading 22-21, scored three unanswered points, including a block to win the set, 25-21.
Ole Miss spotted the Aggies a 4-0 lead to begin the third set, but the Rebels later used a 7-1 rally to take a 10-8 lead. After an A&M timeout, Blake and Company took over at the net, propelling the Aggies on a 7-1 run to put the Aggies up, 15-11. The Rebels fought back to within 15-14 before Blake teamed with junior opposite hitter Ashlie Reasor for a block and followed with a kill to mark the start of a 4-0 run that gave the Aggies their largest lead, 19-14.
After trading sideouts, Ole Miss went on a 4-0 run to get back within a point, 20-19, before Reasor ended the run with an off-speed shot to the open floor. The Rebels then committed back-to-back attack errors and also had an overpass, setting up Babers for a kill that put A&M at set point, 24-19. Ole Miss, which was outhit, .241 to .024, stayed alive with a kill before Aiple's dump kill closed out the set, giving the Aggies a 2-1 lead in the match.
A&M overcame an early three-point deficit in the fourth set, with Blake ending a long play with a kill to give the Aggies their first lead, 10-9. Ole Miss managed to tie the score at 11-11, but it would be the final tie of the match. Leading 21-18, Blake led the Aggies to victory, getting a block and three kills, including the match-winner, in a 4-0 A&M run to close out the contest.
The Aggies return home to host a pair of SEC matches during the upcoming weekend at Reed Arena. On Friday, Oct. 14, Texas A&M plays host to South Carolina. First serve is at 6:30 p.m.
In celebration of National Dessert Day on Friday, Aggie Aces will be hosting a free ice cream tailgate at the student entrance prior to the match against the Gamecocks. In addition, the first 100 fans will receive a free Chick Fil-A cookie. Also on tap at Reed on Friday is a pie eating contest and a chance to win Chick-Fil-A milkshakes for a year.
On Sunday, the Aggies have a pivotal match against 11th-ranked Florida at 4 p.m. It will be the Aggies' annual "Dig Pink" match, and all fans wearing pink can purchase tickets for $3 at the door. In addition, the first 300 fans receive free. Dig Pink shirts.