Aggie Volleyball Outlasts Rebels in Five-Set Affair

(Source: Hayden Carroll/Texas A&M Athletics)

OXFORD, Miss. – The Texas A&M volleyball team (9-3, 1-0 SEC) outlasted Ole Miss (4-7, 0-1 SEC) inside Gillom Sports Center on Wednesday night, taking down the Rebels in five sets (19-25, 25-22, 26-28, 25-19, 15-10).

Leading the way with her ninth double-digit kill performance of the season was Caroline Meuth, who finished with a career-high 24 kills on .333 hitting. Elena Karakasi commanded the Aggies’ offense, finishing with a season-high 53 assists and recording her third double-double of the year, adding a team-high 11 digs.

After trailing early, the Aggies chipped away at their deficit and took their first lead behind a pair of kills and trio of aces from Meuth. The Rebels responded with six unanswered points to regain a four-point lead over A&M midway through the set. Despite a team-leading fourth kill from Meuth, and a kill from Karakasi to spoil set point for Ole Miss, the Rebels held on for the 25-19 opening-set win.

An ace and a kill from Meuth kept the second frame close, as A&M carried a slim 15-14 advantage into the media break. A kill from Ifenna Cos-Okpalla forced Ole Miss to call a timeout, trailing 18-16. Kills from Meuth and Bowser kept the Aggies in front by a pair, before an attacking error by the Rebels handed the Maroon & White the second set, 25-22.

Three different Aggies registered a kill in the opening points of the third, while a 5-0 run created separation, helping A&M jump out to a 16-7 advantage on a kill from Ciera Hecht. The Rebels responded with four-straight points, but a kill from Meuth, and a block by Cos-Okpalla and Lednicky pushed A&M back ahead by six. Ole Miss fought back to come within one, but a kill and solo block from Cos-Okpalla prevented the Rebels from taking the lead, before Ole Miss closed on a 3-0 run to complete its comeback and take the third set, 28-26.

With Mia Johnson behind the service, the Aggies pulled ahead, 8-5, to start the fourth. Cos-Okpalla hammered her fourth kill to spoil the Rebels’ momentum, keeping A&M in the lead, 12-10, before Ole Miss used four-straight points to jump out in front. A block and a kill from Hecht pushed the Aggies back in the lead before A&M closed on a 7-0 run for a 25-19 win.

An ace from Underwood and a kill from Meuth made it 3-1 in favor of the Aggies to start the deciding set. Lednicky’s 13th kill kept A&M ahead by two at the switch, as the Maroon & White held onto an 8-6 lead. A kill from Karakasi gave the Aggies their largest lead of the frame. A pair of kills and a block by Meuth forced Ole Miss to call a timeout, trailing 13-8, before A&M secured the set, 15-10, on a kill from Lednicky.

The Aggies return to Reed Arena and host Tennessee for a pair of matches this weekend. Saturday’s contest is highlighted by a T-shirt and pizza giveaway for Texas A&M students while supplies last. Youth Sunday Funday, A&M Faculty & Staff Appreciation Day and post-match autographs are on tap for Sunday’s match.

Head coach Laura “Bird” Kuhn
Overall thoughts on the match…
“Anytime you go on the road in the SEC, you know it’s going to be a grind. We continue to learn more about ourselves, but the way our team battled out of the situation we put ourselves in, I’m proud of them. We figured it out and got back into it. We need to just be more consistent in who we are in all of the sets from the start.”

Story by Shelby Hild, Athletics Communications