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The Battalion

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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Aggies storm on Hawai’i Rainbows

Photo by Robert O’Brien

Graduate OH Caroline Meith (16) jumps to spike the ball during the Aggies’ game against Hawai’i in Reed Arena on Friday, Aug. 26, 2022.

Volleyball is back in Reed Arena.
On Aug. 26th, Texas A&M volleyball kicked off its season by hosting its annual Texas A&M Invitational at Reed Arena. For its first game, the Aggies battled against the reigning Big West champions in Hawai’i University, a team who swept the Aggies at the beginning of the 2021 season.
The maroon and white stepped onto the court, for the first time since their win against Missouri on Nov. 27, 2021, with a new starting six and many new faces.
A&M started four new transfers, graduate setter Elena Karakasi, junior middle back Molly Brown, sophomore outside hitter Mia Johnson and junior libero Lauren Hogan. The Aggies also started redshirt junior middle back Madison Bowser and soon-to-be freshman phenom Logan Lednicky.
This matchup included a battle of two fifth-year coaches for their prospective schools. A&M coach Laura “Bird” Kuhn is entering her fifth season as a head coach for A&M volleyball with an overall record of 63-44. On the other side of the net, Hawai’i coach Robyn Ah Mow has an overall record of 86-32 and two Big West Coach of the Year awards.
The Aggies looked disorganized during Set 1 against the ‘Bows. In the first 15 serves of the match, A&M faced a seven-point deficit, and its first point of the game came from a monster block by Brown.
The Aggies struggled to get any momentum going during the first set; however, a long offseason and rusty gears seem to be the best answer for this problem. The ‘Bows took advantage of Set 1 and won 25-18.
Set 2 was a fortunate change of events for the maroon and white. After starting off the game with three lead changes and three ties, the Aggies took off on a five-point lead which included four errors from Hawai’i and a kill from Johnson.
With little-to-no college experience but tremendous skill, Lednicky took control in Set 2. After securing four kills in the first set, the Sugarland native tagged on four more kills which included the game-winning point to secure the second set 25-19.
“It wasn’t a surprise to us because we’ve seen it all preseason,” Bird said on Lednicky’s performance.
The momentum from Set 2 carried over to the third as the Aggies secured their second set in a row with a 25-23 win. Despite not being named a starter, this graduate transfer from Notre Dame took advantage of her opportunity once called onto the floor.
Outside hitter Caroline Meuth levitated for four kills in Set 3, which included the game-winning kill, and when trying to describe her serve, a cannon must be mentioned.
The Aggies went back to their Set 1 habits for Set 4. After a back-and-forth start, which included five ties and an early lead change in favor of Hawai’i, the ‘Bows went on a favorable 7-2 run. From then on, the Aggies struggled to make any sort of comeback and lost Set 4 25-17.
Things looked scary for the maroon and white after a quick 2-0 lead from Hawai’i to start Set 5. Then, the power duo of Meuth and Lednicky took over.
Before one of her kills in the final set, Meuth was seen dancing to the music on the speakers in Reed Arena. She said this, along with words from her coach, helped regulate her emotions and kept her stable during play.
“The dancing calms me down a little bit and keeps me loose,” Meuth said. “I had to stay neutral, emotionally, and listen to what is being told to me. Every play, I hear Bird telling me ‘pass to attack.’ Those three words help settle me down.”
The two had 10 kills combined in the final set of the game and chemistry seemed to flow between the six Aggies on the court as they dominated the final set and secured the set and the game with a 15-11 win.
“We love to keep it interesting, but we knew this was going to be a great tournament for us and challenge us in different ways,” Bird said. “Hawai’i is a great opponent, and we knew they were going to be greedy, defend and be smart. We knew we had to play clean and settle in after that first set.”
Meuth finished with 23 kills, 15 digs and an ace as Lednicky finished just behind her with 20 kills, two blocks and an ace, as well.
“We talk about leaning on each other, and in those moments, they did,” Bird said. “We had to change the tone after that first set, and that is what I’m most proud about. They settled back in and did their jobs and it showed.”
A&M volleyball will play its second game of the Texas A&M Invitational on Aug. 27 at 1 p.m. in Reed Arena against the No. 25 ranked University of San Diego.

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