COLLEGE STATION, Texas – No. 3 Florida kept its lead atop the Southeastern Conference standings with a 25-18, 25-22, 25-20 victory over Texas A&M tonight at Reed Arena.
The Gators’ three-time All-American middle blocker Rhamat Alhassan led all players with 13 kills without an error in 17 attempts for a .765 hitting efficiency as Florida improved to 23-1, including 15-1 in SEC matches only.
Senior outside hitter Kiara McGee led the Aggies with 12 kills, marking the sixth consecutive match she has posted double-figure kills, but A&M fell to 7-15 overall and 4-11 in SEC matches only.
Florida led the entire first set, jumping out to a 10-4 lead to force A&M head coach Laurie Corbelli to burn a timeout. The Aggies came out of the timeout and scored four unanswered to get within 10-8. A&M remained within two points at 14-12 but was unable to overcome the deficit, as the Aggies were outhit. 343 to .189.
Sophomore outside hitter Hollann Hans later got a thunderous kill courtesy of a nifty one-handed set by freshman setter Camille Conner to put A&M within 19-16 before Florida reeled off three consecutive points. Hans ended the run with her fifth kill of the set, but back-to-back A&M attack errors put the Gators at set point. McGee blasted down a ball that went untouched for her sixth kill in the frame, but the Aggies served out on the next play to end the set.
A&M scored the first three points of the second set, with Conner getting back-to-back kills to give the Aggies the early 3-0 lead. A&M held a 5-3 edge before Alhassan unleashed two kills and had a solo block during a 5-0 Gator run that gave Florida the 8-5 lead. The Gators continued to lead, 14-11, when McGee got two kills to spark a 3-0 run by the Aggies that tied the score, 14-14. A&M tied the score four more times, the last coming at 22-22 following a Florida attack that sailed long. The Gators, who outhit A&M .375 to .242 in the frame, then put away three consecutive kills to close out the set and take a 2-0 lead in the match.
A&M scored the first two points to open the third set, but Florida countered with a 5-0 run to take the lead. Although the Gators hit only .171 in the set, they never trailed the remainder of the match as they held A&M to a -.026 hitting percentage in the final frame.
Florida built its largest lead of the set at 20-13 following a four-point surge. The Aggies cut the margin to four points three times, the last coming at 24-20 before Alhassan put down the match-winning kill.
In addition to her offensive production, Alhassan had a match-high five blocks as Florida led A&M in team blocks, 9-4.
A&M senior defensive specialist Gabby Litwin was impressive, keeping alive numerous rallies as she finished with a match-high and a personal season-high 14 digs. Conner finished with 23 assists.
The Aggies conclude their home schedule and will be celebrating Senior Day, when they play host to the Gamecocks on Sunday. The match time has been changed to 11 a.m.
A&M seniors McGee, Litwin, Stephanie Aiple, Amy Nettles and Ashlie Reasor will be recognized after the match. In addition, it will be Daddy-Daughter Day with a special $12 package offered that includes two match tickets and a $12 concessions voucher. The special price is for advance sales only and will not available on game day. The deadline for purchase is Friday, Nov. 17 at 5 p.m.
Visit 12thMan.com for more information on Texas A&M volleyball. Aggie fans also can keep up to date with the A&M volleyball team on Facebook and on Twitter and Instagram by following @AggieVolleyball.
TEXAS A&M POSTMATCH QUOTES:
HEAD COACH LAURIE CORBELLI
On how the team played tonight…
“I’d say spotty. I thought there were some runs of some really good in-system attacks that I thought we were going to start getting a rhythm off of, but we weren’t able to sustain those runs of high quality. That sometimes just doesn’t stick with us to keep the quality that I see them do every day in practice. There’s all the work that they put in, and then match time we just have to figure out how to connect our better plays and let it work in our favor. We didn’t have our middles this match, which obviously against their middles, that’s tough. Kiara [McGee] had a beautiful match, almost had a double-double, with one more dig. Gabby Litwin played a phenomenal match with her serve receive and her defense. She had a new match high with 14 digs and was really phenomenal. We were outmatched in a couple of categories just with experience. Our lack of experience showed a little bit.”
SENIOR OUTSIDE HITTER KIARA MCGEE
On how the team played…
“I feel like we fought, but in spurts. It came and went. Against the No. 3 team in the country things start to add up quickly. We can’t take a play off or forget assignments, and I feel like we did that quite a few times.”
On Senior Day coming up…
“I feel like it’s going to be exciting, and the seniors will have so much energy and drive. This is our last time to play in Reed Arena, so how do we want to leave our mark here. That’ll be fun.”