COLLEGE STATION, Texas – Texas A&M freshman outside hitter Hollann Hans (pronounced haulin’ hands) recorded a team-high 12 kills without an error to lead the Aggies to a 25-20, 25-20, 25-16 victory over Georgia, Sunday afternoon at Reed Arena.
It was the seventh consecutive victory and the 12th win in the last 13 matches for the Aggies, who improve to 18-7, including 12-2 in Southeastern Conference matches. Georgia (12-13, 1-13 SEC), which pushed A&M to five sets when the two teams met in Athens on Oct. 21, suffers its ninth consecutive loss and remains winless in SEC road matches.
Texas A&M junior outside hitter Ashlie Reasor joined Hans in double-figure kills with 10 while hitting at a .350 clip. Junior setter Stephanie Aiple directed the Aggie offense to a .308 hitting percentage while dishing out 31 assists to give her 3,216 assists for her career, moving her into sixth place in the A&M all-time career records.
The Aggie defense held Georgia to a .178 hitting percentage, with junior libero Amy Nettles tallying a match-high 11 digs. Sophomore middle blocker Kaitlyn Blake led A&M to an 11-5 lead in team blocks, posting a match-high six stops, including five block assists to give her 121 for the season, tying her for ninth in the A&M single-season records.
Senior middle blocker Jazzmin Babers had back-to-back kills as the Aggies opened up an 8-3 lead early in the first set. A&M, which outhit Georgia, .300 to .fight back and got within 14-13. A&M pulled away again, outscoring the Bulldogs, 5-2, to go up 19-15, but the Aggies then committed three consecutive attack error to put Georgia back within 19-18. The teams traded points and A&M held a narrow 20-19 edge before Babers got a solo block and then teamed with Aiple for another stuff. Aiple caught the Bulldog defense off guard and put the Aggies at set point with back-to-back dump kills. Georgia got a kill down the line before junior outside Kiara McGee closed out the frame with her fourth kill.
Texas A&M used an 11-2 run to double up the Bulldogs, 18-9, in the second set. Georgia rallied once again, getting within four points to make things interesting, but the deficit was too large for the Bulldogs to overcome. Hans registered her fifth kill of the set to put the Aggies serving for the set, 24-17, but Georgia scored three unanswered points to get within 24-20 before Reasor and Blake ended the set with a block.
Texas A&M led the third set from start to finish without allowing Georgia to make any sort of comeback like it had done in the first two sets. The Aggies held a 15-10 advantage when Babers got a kill following a long rally. Aiple and Hans followed up with a kill apiece, and Blake and Aiple combined for a block to put A&M ahead, 19-10.
The Aggies later equaled their largest lead at 23-13 following a kill by Reasor and an ace by Hans. A&M, which outhit the Bulldogs, .417 to .167, in the set then committed three attack errors, marking the only time the Bulldogs scored more than two consecutive points in the set and only the third time in the set Georgia scored more than one consecutive point. Georgia then committed its eighth service error of the match to put the Aggies at match point. Reasor finished off the match with a kill as A&M recorded its third consecutive sweep and concluded its four-match homestand.
Amanda Dachs led Georgia with a match-high 13 kills.
Texas A&M returns to the road next week, taking on Tennessee on Wednesday in Knoxville and No. 24 Kentucky on Sunday in Lexington.
It will be Senior Night, and A&M seniors Victoria Arenas, Jazzmin Babers, Emily Hardesty, Katelyn Labhart and Kaysie Shebeneck will be honored in a postmatch ceremony.
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Texas A&M postmatch quotes:
TEXAS A&M HEAD COACH LAURIE CORBELLI
On Texas A&M’s back row defense…
“Well, I think we’ve made progress for sure with our passing and our defense. I think our block has gotten better in front of them, and so it’s easier for our diggers. It's nice that we have the juniors and seniors primarily back there. [Amy] Houser is a sophomore, but we have a lot of players that have been doing it for a long time. I know what I'm going to get and I know how resilient they each are. Look how far [Victoria] Arenas has come. She has made such a 180 in her approach to passing. Passing is very, very mental. It's very much about confidence and a lot of reps. It's a really difficult skill to get really good at. The variables are incredible, I could name 20 just sitting here about what you have to be able to be comfortable with to be a good passer. She has worked so hard at that, it's just really fun to see.”
On Hollann Hans having 12 kills without an error today...
“Hollann just has this special kind of…the way that she’s able to focus and be consistent and be resilient. She almost makes a mistake and it’s like it never happened, and she’s really good at that and that’s a good quality to have in volleyball. It’s just a natural, instinctive thing that I think she has, and I say that after coaching for 31 years, I really don’t know that I’ve seen someone that amazing at being so, just the short term memory. Whether it was good or bad, you would never know just looking at her, and so it doesn’t surprise me when she gets on a roll.”
On using previous match with Georgia as motivation for this game…
“Yeah, I’m reaching into my bag of tricks for anything I can come up with. It’s just the way it is. Look around the country at all sports, it’s upset time in the seasons but the kids have been going for a long time. It’s a grind and teams start to know you better. I think now that we’re down to two weeks of important [matches]. That’s all we really know, we have is two more weeks of season. I don’t think it’s going to be hard to keep this team sharp and motivated, but I want to keep them sharp and motivated, there’s no doubt.”
TEXAS A&M JUNIOR OPPOSITE HITTER ASHLIE REASOR
On the home stretch and what's to come in the season...
“I think it was good to be home for a little bit. It was good to kind of get back on our feet and go to class, you know that affects you mentally, with school and stuff like that. But yeah, we are away for these next two matches and I think our mental game has increased so much. I think y'all can tell from when we are playing, if we make an error, the next ball, it's probably not an error. We’re fixing it really quickly right after that.”
TEXAS A&M SENIOR DEFENSIVE SPECIALIST VICTORIA ARENAS
On playing 1-12 Georgia and getting a decisive win
“A lot of times the coaches never mention to us what a team’s record is or anything. We know what happened last match, and we just set higher goals for ourselves this match and I think that is something we focus on, our side of the court. That's what Laurie [Corbelli] was saying the whole match: just focus on our team.”
On consistency of the Aggies…
“The consistency is something that has been so important for us and we’re really able to gel. We made a point to work on it a little bit extra before this match, because we know Georgia is a really good serving team in our conference.”
On how the rotation helps players mentally...
“You warming your brain up and even just me going in for Ashlie [Reasor] and Ashlie going in for me, we have that consistent relationship between us. We know what each other's job is so I think it's been a huge positive this season.”
On the mentality of the back row heading into matches at Tennessee and Kentucky…
“I think we’re excited. Both teams have really big attackers and we always have really good match ups with Kentucky and Tennessee. That just really pumps you up as a team, getting ready for battle, so we’re excited.”
(© 2017 KAGS)