COLLEGE STATION, Texas - Texas A&M led from start to finish as the Aggies cruised to a 25-6, 25-15, 25-18 victory over South Carolina tonight at Reed Arena.
It was the fifth consecutive victory for the Aggies, who improve to 11-6 overall and 5-1 in Southeastern Conference matches. South Carolina suffered its fourth consecutive loss and falls to 13-5 overall and 1-5 in conference play.
Texas A&M shredded the South Carolina defense in the opening set, with junior setter Stephanie Aiple directing the Aggie offense to a blistering .652 hitting efficiency. Junior outside hitter Kiara McGee set the tone from the get-go, getting a straight-down kill to start the match and then putting down a South Carolina overpass on the ensuing play. The Aggies held a 4-2 lead when the Gamecocks served long and freshman outside hitter Hollann Hans followed with three consecutive kills during an 8-0 A&M run. Texas A&M continued to pull away, twice reeling off runs of five points while never allowing the Gamecocks to score consecutive points. South Carolina, which hit .000 in the set, had an attack error that put the Aggies at set point, and Texas A&M senior middle blocker Jazzmin Babers ended the frame with a solo block.
The Gamecocks' six points in the stanza tied the A&M record for fewest points allowed in a non-fifth set, first accomplished in a 25-22, 25-6, 25-18 sweep against South Carolina in the final match of the 2013 regular season and tied earlier this season in a 3-1 victory at LSU.
The Aggies held a 3-2 lead in the second set before a McGee kill marked the start of a 9-0 run, giving A&M its largest lead of the stanza, 12-2. South Carolina got within five points at 18-13 following a 3-0 run-equaling its longest scoring streak of the match-but could get no closer. The Aggies held a 20-14 cushion before a Gamecock service error, a kill by Babers, an ace by Texas A&M senior defensive specialist Victoria Arenas and a kill by McGee put the Aggies at set point. The Gamecocks, who were still hitting .000 for the match, got a block on the next play before Babers got a kill to close out the set and put the Aggies up, 2-0, in the match.
Texas A&M sophomore middle blocker Kaitlyn Blake, the reigning SEC Player of the Week, and junior opposite hitter Ashlie Reasor had back-to-back kills to begin the third set, and the Aggies never let up. Even libero Amy Nettles got a kill in the set, digging a ball that went over the net and fell in for a kill to put the Aggies up, 20-14. Reasor won a joust to put A&M ahead, 21-14, before the teams began to exchange point for point. Senior setter Kaysie Shebeneck, who replaced Aiple with the Aggies up, 19-12, got the match-ending kill.
McGee and Hans tied for match-high honors in kills with 11 apiece while hitting .348 and .333, respectively. Aiple had 30 assists as A&M hit a season-high .404 while holding the Gamecocks to a .088 hitting efficiency.
Junior defensive specialist Gabby Litwin had a season-high 10 digs, tying Nettles for match-high honors, and sophomore defensive specialist Amy Houser led all players and tied her career high with two aces. Babers and Blake tied for match-high honors with three blocks, giving Babers 490 total blocks for her career and moving her into a tie for third place in the A&M all-time records with former two-time All-American Sherri Brinkman (1983-85).
The victory gave Texas A&M head coach Laurie Corbelli her 599th win in her 31-year head coaching career, as well as her 499th victory in her 24th season as head coach of the Aggies.
The Aggies will aim to give her a milestone victory and win their sixth consecutive match when they return to Reed Arena on Sunday at 4 p.m. for a highly anticipated match against No. 9 Florida. Texas A&M posted an epic victory against the Gators last year in College Station, coming back from a 0-2 set deficit to win the match 3-2 on Senior Day. It was Florida's first-ever loss in the all-time series against the Aggies, who went on to win their first conference championship.
It is the Aggies annual "Dig Pink" match, and anyone wearing pink to the match can purchase a ticket at the entrance for only $3 and also receive a free pink lemonade. In addition, the first 300 fans will be given a free Dig Pink shirt.
Every Sunday is "Funday" at Reed Arena. Up to four kids are admitted free with the purchase of one regular-priced adult ticket for that day's match. Also take advantage of the free "Kids' Court" at the volleyball practice gym prior to first serve. Activities include arts and crafts, games, volleyball and more.