The Official Website of the Southeastern Conference
The Official Website of the Southeastern Conference

Georgia holds off Texas A&M in five-set battle

125 days ago
Georgia Athletics
Photo: Georgia Athletics

ATHENS, Ga. - The Georgia Bulldogs (11-3, 2-1 SEC) volleyball team defeated Texas A&M (10-6, 2-3 SEC) on Saturday afternoon, winning three sets to two at Stegeman Coliseum behind senior outside hitters Amber Stivrins eight kills on a .462 hitting percentage and Kacie Evans' 16-kill, 10-dig double-double.

"We've had a plethora of them [fifth sets] before. It's definitely been a while since I've been on the court, but I just felt really connected," said Stivrins. "We've been working on that all week and just trying to stay with good communication and having our arms around each other's backs. I think we did a good job of that, so I was pretty confident going into the fifth set."

Georgia finished with 59 kills on .255 hitting percentage offensively and held the Aggies to just .155 hitting, while also putting up 13 total blocks.

Despite trailing early in the first set, the Bulldogs managed to take a 14-12 lead following a Sophie Fischer block that forced the Aggies to take their first timeout of the set. Georgia then went on a six-point run, forcing a second Texas A&M timeout while up 17-12 following a kill by Evans. With Alexa Fortin at the service line, the team funneled this energy into a 10-0 run.

The Bulldogs closed out the first set after a long rally concluded with a Fischer kill, taking the set 25-13 while on an extended 14-1 run. The Red and Black played a strong first set, posting a .385 hitting percentage offensively and holding the Aggies to a .000 hitting percentage defensively.

Both the Bulldogs and Aggies played an impressive second set with neither team able to gain much of an advantage on the scoreboard.

Texas A&M responded by finding an early 8-5 lead behind five team kills. The Bulldogs were able to reclaim the lead heading into the media timeout, 15-14, with five blocks to this point of the match, including a match-high from Fischer, who had four.

With the teams fighting and the score set at 17 each, senior outside hitter Kacie Evans earned her eleventh kill of the match to help Georgia take a small lead, 18-17. The Bulldogs took their second and final timeout while down 23-22 and managed to tie the score at 23 after a Texas A&M attacking error, but an error of their own put the Aggies up 24-23. Fischer took her twelfth swing of the day and found her fourth kill to again tie the set, this time at 24-all.

After a Fischer service, the ball was called just out of bounds was challenged by head coach Tom Black, which was unsuccessful and gave Texas A&M a 25-24 lead. The Bulldogs again answered with a Mackenzie Norris kill and tied it, but a service error gave the Aggies the ball back with a 26-25 lead at set point. Texas A&M took advantage of the situation, taking the second set 27-26 following a kill.

Georgia reacted to the previous set loss by quickly taking a 10-5 advantage in the third, highlighted by the team's three blocks early into the set. The Bulldogs found themselves up 15-10 when the Aggies took their second timeout of the set.

The offense and defense were once again clicking, with the Red and Black taking a 17-10 lead on .400 hitting and allowing again a .000 percentage from Texas A&M. Georgia closed out set three with four blocks and 12 kills, winning it by a 25-19 result.

The fourth set started in Texas A&M's favor, taking a 7-3 advantage with Georgia three points coming by way of Aggie errors. Coach Black decided to call his first timeout of the set and talk it over with his team, leading to two-straight points in UGA's favor. While the Bulldogs closed the gap, they were unable to regain the lead, even tying the score once before the frame reached its midway point with Texas A&M leading by a 15-13 score.

Georgia would call its final timeout of the set while trailing 19-16. Thanks to Mackenzie Norris's seventh kill and an Aggie attacking error, the Bulldogs found themselves down just two points, 22-20. This forced a Texas A&M timeout, who then went on to earn the next three points and claim the fourth set.

Georgia began the fifth set with a kill by Meghan Froemming, who notched her first of the day to open a 1-0 lead. Although Texas A&M then took the next two points, a service error squared the set back at two points each.

Evans then capitalized on the opportunity by providing an ace at the service line, her third of the day. Stivrins then notched her seventh kill, followed by a Clara Browers ace and a Stivrins block to put the Bulldogs up three when the squads switched sides.

Georgia went on a three-point run after the switch, capped off by a thunderous kill from Evans that forced a Texas A&M timeout with the Bulldogs up 11-6. Georgia stormed out to a late lead, up 13-8, but the Aggies battled back and went on a five-point run to even the match at 13-all, forcing Coach Black to use his final timeout.

On the next point, Fischer and Evans blocked the incoming Aggie attack, giving Georgia the point and putting the contest at match point in their favor. Fischer then put down her 17th kill to clinch the fifth set and Bulldog win, 15-13.

Quotables

Head Coach Tom Black

On the match in general ... "It was obviously a hard-fought match. Our conference is super competitive, so we're just going to have to gear up every night. I thought it was a little bit of an uneven match, but we worked our way out of it. I was really happy for us to come through in a pressure situation like that against a good team."

On what it means to have Amber Stivrins back... "It's amazing to have her back. I think Abby (Maesch) and Esttelle (Haugen) have done a great job in the meantime. Amber's experience and the success she's had is huge for our team, so we're really excited to have her back and have her get stronger each match too."

Amber Stivrins

On what was going through her mind in the fifth set... "I'm a senior. We've had a plethora of them before. It's definitely been a while since I've been on the court, but I just felt really connected. We've been working on that all week and just trying to stay with good communication and having our arms around each other's backs. I think we did a good job of that, so I was pretty confident going into the fifth set."

On how it feels to be back... "Like a breath of fresh air. It is fun and all cheering for them, but it's a whole different thing to play, actually have the jersey on, and to be out there with my dawgs."

On the takeaways from the match... "I'm pretty proud of us because I think maybe in former years we would have spilled over and not kept that fight in us. I think it shows the training that we've been putting in and actually having a little pride in the UGA name."

Up Next

Georgia will return to Stegeman Coliseum tomorrow morning, again playing against Texas A&M at 12 p.m. ET.