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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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One step away
June 8, 2024

A&M falls just short of upset against Florida

Photo by Photo by Abbey Santoro

Sophomore Mallory Talbert and junior Camille Conner work together to hit the ball over the net. 

On Sunday afternoon, the Texas A&M volleyball team could not overcome a two-set deficit, falling to No. 14 Florida 3-2 at Reed Arena.
Senior Hollan Hans led the Aggies with 26 kills, registering her sixth double-double of the season.
As a team, the Aggies finished with a season-high 16 blocks, including nine from junior Makenna Paterson.
“They’re a good team,” said A&M coach Laura “Bird” Kuhn. “The SEC is a solid league, it’s going to be like that every night. You have to play the game, not the name. We’ve talked about it multiple times this season, you have to play each point. Go back to baseline, execute game plan, play each one. What does a good team do, they took big swings. They took the big swings at the end of the fifth set.”
To open the match, Florida was able to start off hot in the first set, breaking a 7-6 A&M advantage to hold a 12-8 lead early. Both teams would claw back and forth, with Florida able to maintain its short lead over A&M for most of the set before two straight kills by Camille Conner tied the match at 23. Out of a Florida timeout, the Gators finished off the set, with a kill by Paige Hammons clinching the 25-23 set win for the Gators.
This continued into the second set, where A&M and Florida remained close, with the Aggies tying the score again at 23. However, the Gators were again able to capitalize after a timeout, as they finished with two blocks to win the second set 25-23.
On the verge of defeat and down two sets, the Aggies quickly regained momentum in the third set, winning eight straight points to build a 13-3 lead. Despite Florida clawing their way back in, the Aggies were able to stay in front of Florida, keeping the lead at 18-10. The Aggies finished the set strong, closing on an 8-4 run, with an attack error by Florida clinching the set 25-14 for the Aggies. Camila Gomez led the Aggies in the match with 15 digs, including six during the third set alone.
“They knew they could play at a high level, execute at a higher level and that was them,” said Kuhn. “When they decide and they believe and they fight, that’s A&M volleyball.”
In the fourth set, the Aggies continued to attack the Gators, taking an early lead after winning six of the first seven points. Hans used consecutive service aces to extend the lead for the Aggies to 12-6. With the lead in hand, A&M continued to separate from Florida, going on an 8-2 run in the middle of the set to extend the lead to 17-8 off of kills by Patterson and Hans. Despite a rally attempt from the Gators, the Aggies were able to shut it down and won the set 25-15 after a Florida serve went out of bounds.
During the crucial fifth set, A&M opened to a 9-3 lead over the Gators off of a pair of kills from Conner and Samantha Sanders. However, once both teams switched sides, A&M couldn’t find any blocking lanes as Florida responded by clinching nine points in a row, helping them retake the lead 13-10. This run, which included four key blocks by Florida’s Rachel Kramer, caught the Aggies in an unfavorable position. While the Aggies were able to retain serve, two final kills by Thayer Hall would clinch the match for the Gators, as they would win the final set 15-12. Hall led the Gators with 18 kills, including 6 during the final set.
“Once we switched sides, they got those two quick points because our passing was out of system and a block,” said Kuhn. “That’s when that doubt creeps in and you could see it, the momentum switched when we flipped sides.”
With the loss, the Aggies are now 11-5 on the season, with a 3-3 record in SEC play.
Next weekend, the Aggies head on the road, as they face a double header in Mississippi, facing off against Mississippi State on Oct. 18 at 7 p.m. and Ole Miss on Oct. 20 at 1:30 p.m.

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