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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Aggie volleyball brings out the brooms, sweeps Northern Iowa

Photo by Julianne Shivers

Sophomore OPP Logan Lednicky (9) celebrates with her team after scoring in Texas A&M’s game against Utah State on Thursday, Sept. 7, 2023 at Reed Arena. (Julianne Shivers/ The Battalion)

Scared of the six? Count the undefeated Texas A&M volleyball team out, as they advance to 7-0 following a win over the visiting Northern Iowa Panthers.
The Maroon and White set the defensive tone early in the first set, with sophomore middle blocker Ifenna Cos-Okpalla leading the charge of a block party that saw A&M up 3-1. After a string of back-and-forth rallies, the Aggies pounced on Northern Iowa, taking the lead 11-6 and forcing the Panthers to call their first timeout.
However, it didn’t cool off A&M, as sophomore opposite hitter Logan Lednicky and freshman outside hitter Bianna Muoneke scored back-to-back kills.
Head coach Jamie Morrison’s challenge on a tipped ball did not go through, and it led to a small run by the Panthers to bring the score to 21-19. A timeout by Morrison paid dividends, as the Aggies went on a 4-0 run to close out the first set.
Opening up the second set, Lednicky came out aggressively, scoring back-to-back kills.
After another back-and-forth affair where each team took turns taking the lead, Northern Iowa’s offense slipped up and had a run of attack errors, and the Aggies capitalized on it. Led by Cos-Okpalla once again, a string of blocks and kills saw the Maroon and White up 17-10.
Coming out after a timeout by the Purple and Gold, junior setter Tayler Alden led the rejuvenated Panthers to tie it all up at 21. In crunch time, leaders from both teams took over, as a Cos-Okpalla block led to a 23-21 score and a kill by Alden kept Northern Iowa alive and pulled the Panthers within one.
Following traded kills by Cos-Okpalla and senior outside hitter Emily Holterhause, the crowd rose to their feet as the Aggies were on set-point, with the Panthers on the brink of their heels. Alden made a service error, leading to another set win for A&M.
Reminiscent to the previous set, Lednicky came out and scored early with back-to-back kills. However, on their last legs, the Panthers kept up with the Aggies, led by Alden who scored on back-to-back possessions to pull them within one at 10-9.
In a close bout, Muoneke caught fire and had eight of her 13 kills in this final set, helping the Maroon and White pull ahead 22-20. However, attack errors by the Aggies had Northern Iowa up 23-22 as they looked to comeback in the game.
Then, kills by Muoneke and Cos-Okpalla propelled A&M back into the driver’s seat, as it looked to close the game out. Once again, the defensive force of Cos-Okpalla came in clutch, as her solo block closed the final set, solidifying to an A&M sweep on Northern Iowa.
After the game, Morrison said that he was happy that the team found a way to win despite some errors.
“I didn’t think we were 100% at our best today,” Morrison said. “But I congratulated the team on the fact that we found a way to win. I’m fired up that we’re finding different ways to win in every single match and it’s an honor and privilege to be 7-0.”
The Maroon and White’s offense and defense are both top in the nation, ranked third in blocks-per-set and fourth in hitting percentage and Morrison attributed it to the team’s fundamentals.
“It’s a seven-month process,” Morrison said. “Some fundamentals during the spring that would allow us to run an offense and help block the way that we are. I think it’s showing every single match, dialing into the true definition of fundamentals.”
Lednicky, who scored 12 kills on a .375% hitting percentage, credited junior setter Nisa Buzlutepe for helping her find holes in the defense.
“Honestly, UNI’s defense was insane,” Lednicky said. “I had a really hard time finding space, but credit to Nisa, putting me high balls and [was] able to help cut it back and find space.”
Next up for A&M volleyball is the final game of the Invitational against TCU on Saturday, Sept. 9 with first serve at 4 p.m.

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