Sept. 17, 2010

Courtesy of Texas A&M

COLLEGE STATION, Texas - Texas A&M started off Big 12 Conference play with a bang, stunning No. 8 Texas, 25-22, 25-18, 25-23, tonight at Reed Arena in the year's first edition of the State Farm Lone Star Showdown.

A&M, which had not defeated the Longhorns since Oct. 16, 2004, snapped a 12-match losing skid against the rival Longhorns, who had not even dropped a set to the Aggies since 2008. The win also snapped Texas' streak of 47 consecutive wins against in-state opponents, a streak that began following A&M's 2004 victory.

A crowd of 3,305, the seventh largest home crowd in A&M history, watched as the Aggies defeated a Top-10 team in their conference home opener for the second straight year, having knocked off No. 6 Nebraska last year, 3-1.

"The 12th Man gave us a few points," A&M coach Laurie Corbelli said. "The momentum of the crowd was just awesome and so much fun to be a part of. It has got to give this group a big boost."

Texas jumped out to a 5-2 lead in the opening set, four of the points courtesy of A&M errors. The Aggies then settled in tied the score at 5-5 on back-to-back kills by Alisia Kastmo and Chelsea Ringel and an ace by Kelsey Black. A&M also tied the score at 13- and 14-all before Ringel gave the Aggies the lead, 15-14 with a solo block against Sha'Dare McNeal.

Ringel's rejection was part of a 6-1 run as the Aggies built their biggest lead at 19-15. Texas twice got within a point, the last coming at 22-21 as Rachael Adams put down an A&M overpass. Aggie middle blocker Stephanie Minnerly then got a kill to put A&M up, 23-21, and the Aggies were serving for the set after Texas was whistled for a ball handling error. Adams prolonged the set with her fifth kill before Kastmo's straight-down kill gave A&M the win, ending Texas' 14-set winning streak against the Aggies.

Texas held its largest lead of the second set at 8-5, but A&M reeled off three consecutive points tie the score. Texas held an 11-9 lead when the Longhorns' offense began to falter. Black got a kill on an errant pass that hung at the net and then Texas committed six attack errors over the next seven points, hitting long, wide, into the net and into the block as A&M built a 16-12 lead. Texas cut the margin to 18-16, but a kill by A&M's Lindsey Miller and another attack error by the Longhorns put A&M up, 20-16. Texas could get no closer than three points and were trailing, 22-18 when Black got a kill off the block and Minnerly followed with a solo block to put A&M up, 24-18. The Longhorns, who were held to a -.026 hitting percentage in the set, sailed their next attack out of bounds to close out the set and give the Aggies a 2-0 lead in the match.

A&M carried the momentum into the final set and built its biggest lead at 15-10. Texas began to chip away at gap, getting within a point at 20-19 and 22-21. Black got a kill off the block to give A&M a 23-21 lead, but an Adams kill and an attack error by A&M tied the score at 23. Corbelli used her final time out, and then Black got a kill from the right side to put the Aggies at match point. Texas then hit into the antenna to close out the match and set off the celebration for the Aggies.

Black led all players with 13 kills, and Miller added nine while hitting .533. She also had a match-high five blocks. Freshman setter Allie Sawatzky had four blocks and 32 assists.

A&M out-hit the Longhorns,.217 to .110, as Texas committed 23 attack errors to A&M's 16.

"Volleyball is a game of errors and whoever makes the fewest typically wins," Corbelli said. "I thought we did a nice job of shot selection and played with good discipline. We had been struggling a little with our dash with Lindsey, the set behind the setter, and it was on tonight. That was another thing that was really necessary for us to win, we needed to be able to attack fast at both ends of the net and we were able to do that."

Ringel, who was recognized as the State Farm Lone Star Scholar Athlete before the match, had a match-high 12 digs, and Tori Mellinger added 10 to lead A&M to a 43-35 advantage.

It was the fourth consecutive win and the fourth consecutive sweep for the Aggies, who improve to 7-4.

Texas falls to 5-4 after suffering its third consecutive loss and its fourth loss in its last five outings.

A&M plays its first Big 12 road match of the season on Saturday as the Aggies take on the Kansas Jayhawks in Lawrence, Kan. First serve is at 6:30 p.m. at the Horejsi Family Athletics Center. A&M has won the last seven meetings with the Jayhawks.

"It is really important how we digest (tonight's win) and use it in our favor," Corbelli said. "We will have a huge challenge at KU. They returned four or five starters, and they have a lot of experience. So we enjoy this. We take the good and build on that."

Following the Kansas match, the Aggies have a mid-week bye before returning home to host Texas Tech on Saturday, Sept. 25. First serve against the Red Raiders is 6:30 p.m. at Reed Arena, and anyone wearing an Aggie Ring will be admitted free.