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Aggie volleyball splits series with Tennessee after pulling the upset

The victory marks the fourth top-25 win under the direction of Laura “Bird” Kuhn and first of the season for the Aggies.
Credit: 12th Man Athletics/Texas A&M Photos

COLLEGE STATION, Texas — Texas A&M volleyball (10-4, 3-1 SEC) pulled off an upset of nationally-ranked Tennessee (12-3, 4-1 SEC) on Sunday afternoon, topping the Volunteers in a thrilling five-set (24-26, 25-23, 17-25, 25-21, 17-15) battle.

The victory marks the fourth top-25 win under the direction of Laura “Bird” Kuhn and first of the season for the Aggies. Setter Camille Conner was a kill shy of a triple-double, finishing with nine kills on .421 hitting, 45 assists and 14 digs. Morgan Christon compiled a match-high 21 kills, while Lauren Davis (16) and Destiny Cox (15) also turned in double-digit numbers. Macy Carrabine led the Aggies’ defensive efforts with 23 digs.

Lauren Davis’ first kill of the match in a 3-0 run gave A&M the 6-5 edge. The Lady Vols responded with four-straight points to jump in front, before charging ahead 17-10. Christon’s second kill at the end of a long rally sparked A&M’s offense, as the Aggies went on a 4-0 run, highlighted by two kills from Destiny Cox. A solo stuff in the middle by Mallory Talbert helped the Maroon & White chip away at Tennessee’s lead, leveling the set at 21-all. Another block by Talbert knot the set at 24, before the Lady Vols squeaked by for the 26-24 win.

Tennessee jumped out to an early lead in the second frame, before a kill from Camille Conner brought the Aggies back within reach, sitting at a 7-5 deficit. The Lady Vols took their largest lead of the set, but Davis and Talbert pieced together a 7-1 run on their own to even the set at 18-all. Talbert’s second ace dropped on the back line forced the Lady Vols to use a timeout with the set deadlocked at 21. The run continued and was highlighted with a block from Cox and Madison Bowser off the bench to push A&M in front, before a service error by Tennessee handed the Aggies the second set, 25-23.

Conner got in on the scoring action in the third, registering back-to-back kills, despite the Aggies trailing by two. The Lady Vols fought off the threat by jumping in front, 12-7, before Christon reached her 11th double-digit kill performance of the season in a four-point scoring run to force a Tennessee timeout.  The Lady Vols used a 5-0 scoring run to pull ahead late in the third, grabbing the 25-17 win.

After a slow start in the fourth, a pair of kills from Conner helped the Aggies fight their way back to level the frame at seven-all, before another kill from the fifth-year setter pushed A&M ahead. A big swing on the outside from Cox gave the Maroon & White a one-point edge, sitting at a 19-18 advantage, before a block by the junior and Bowser extended their lead. A pair of Christon kills sealed the fourth for the Aggies, 25-21, to force a deciding fifth set.

A successful challenge by Kuhn reversed a call in favor of the Aggies early on, as each team exchanged points. Conner’s ninth kill pushed A&M ahead, 6-5, while a block and kill from Davis helped the visitors hold a three-point advantage at the media break. Davis and Christon continued to score on the outside late in the set for the Maroon & White, as a kill from Davis sealed the set, 17-15.