College Station, Texas - Texas A&M defeated the Crimson Tide, 25-20, 18-25, 27-25, 25-16, on Thursday at Reed Arena.
Freshman outside hitter Hollann Hans had 16 kills, and junior outside hitter Kiara McGee added 14 as the Aggies won their fourth consecutive match and also picked up their ninth victory over their last 10 matches to improve to 15-7 overall and 9-2 in SEC matches.
Alabama, which upset A&M, 3-2, on Sept. 23 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, suffered its fourth consecutive loss and dropped to 15-10 overall and 4-8 in conference play, as well as 0-5 all-time in matches played in College Station.
Junior libero Amy Nettles led the Aggies with 18 digs to reach 1,000 digs in her career, with the milestone 18th dig falling in for a kill. Senior defensive specialist Victoria Arenas, the reigning SEC player and defensive player of the week, added 13 digs, and Hans pitched in 10 to record her third double-double of the year.
Junior setter Stephanie Aiple also posted her third double-double of the season, tying her season high with 13 digs and also dishing out 45 assists, giving her 3,119 assists for her career and moving her into seventh place in the A&M career records.
Sophomore middle blocker Kaitlyn Blake, who leads the SEC in blocks per set, had a match-high six blocks to lead A&M to a 9-5 advantage in team blocks. Senior middle Jazzmin Babers added three blocks and moved into a tie for second place in the A&M all-time career records for block assists with 451, five shy of tying the record of 456 held by Cindy Lothspeich (1994-97).
Texas A&M spotted the Crimson Tide a 3-0 lead to start the match, and the Aggies continued to trail, 16-13, before a kill down the line by Hans marked the start of an 8-1 run to give A&M its first lead. The teams traded points before a kill by McGee, followed by an Alabama attack error put the Aggies at set point, 24-19. Alabama's Krystal Rivers, the national leader in kills and points per set who also lit up the Aggies for 29 kills in the previous meeting, put down her fifth kill of the frame, but the Tide whiffed on its next attack attempt to close out the set.
Alabama, which was outhit, .146 to .053 in the opening set, outhit A&M, .256 to .065, in the second stanza and took advantage of the Aggies' unforced errors to even the match. Blake and Babers had back-to-back kills to tie the score at 10-10 before Alabama went on a 5-0 run. Senior outside hitter Emily Hardesty ended the rally with consecutive kills to put A&M within 15-12, but it would be the closest the Aggies would get as the Tide kept a lead for the remainder of the set. Alabama later got back-to-back kills and an ace to take its largest lead at 23-16. Hans and Blake combined for a block to end the run, but the teams exchanged points for the remainder of the frame, with Alabama blocking an A&M attack to get the win heading into the intermission.
The Aggies let a 7-3 lead quickly evaporate in the third frame, but they later redeemed themselves in a huge way by fighting off five set points to win the crucial set. Alabama would use a 5-0 run to take its first lead, 13-11, and the Tide would continue to reel off series of points, taking advantage of two A&M miscues to build its largest lead at 21-15. Alabama maintained its six-point advantage and was serving for the set at 24-19 following Rivers' eighth kill in the stanza when A&M stormed back. Hans got a kill through the block, and Alabama was whistled for a ball-handling error on the ensuing play. Rivers then committed two unforced errors, hitting into the net and hitting long to put A&M within 24-23 and forcing Alabama to call a timeout. Aggie opposite hitter Ashlie Reasor ricocheted a kill off the Alabama block coming out of the timeout as A&M fought off the fifth set point and tied the score at 24-all. The Tide, which was outhit, .293 to .239, then hit wide on the next play to give A&M its first lead since 11-10, and more importantly put the Aggies at set point. Rivers got a kill off the block to tie the score for the sixth time, but McGee powered down a cross-court kill to put the Aggies at set point for the second time. McGee then teamed with Babers to block Rivers for the set-clinching point.
A&M also let a 9-4 lead get away in the fourth set as Alabama went on a 7-1 run to take its first lead at 11-10. McGee got a kill off the block to end the rally, and Reasor followed with a kill to quickly return the lead to the Aggies. Alabama knotted the score at 12-12 before A&M erupted for eight unanswered points, including Nettles' milestone dig that fell in for a kill to put the Aggies ahead, 20-12. A&M, which outhit Alabama, .469 to .235, took its biggest lead and was serving for the match at 24-16 following an Alabama attack error. Rivers kept the Tide alive, recording her match-leading 24th and 25th kills before Blake closed out the match with her ninth kill of the contest.
A&M outhit Alabama, .225 to .197, for the match and led in kills, 61-53. A&M also led in assists (57-52) and digs (68-62). Alabama led in aces, 4-2, but also committed six service errors while A&M committed three.