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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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A&M powered past Ole Miss in SEC opener

Graduate+student+OH+Caroline+Meuth+%2816%29+hits+the+ball+at+Reed+Arena+on+Friday%2C+Sep.+2%2C+2022.
Photo by Cameron Johnson

Graduate student OH Caroline Meuth (16) hits the ball at Reed Arena on Friday, Sep. 2, 2022.

Texas A&M volleyball traveled to Oxford, Miss., to begin conference play against Ole Miss on Wednesday, Sept. 21, in the Gillom Sports Center. A&M returned home as the Western Kentucky Invitational champions on Sunday, Sept. 18. Coach Laura “Bird” Kuhn described their first top-25 team win for the season as a strong turning point, and the team is headed into conference play with momentum. The squad headed into the matchup against Ole Miss with an 18-3 all-time record against the Rebels, winning seven of the 10 most recent matchups. An entertaining five sets were played, and A&M came out on top with a win after a serious test of endurance.
Set 1 started out with a fast pace, and power came from both courts. Graduate outside hitter Caroline Meuth brought her signature power serve to secure three aces in a row, and Ole Miss was unable to answer defensively. Meuth was named the tournament’s MVP at the WKU Invitational and currently sits No. 3 in the SEC with 150 total kills. The Rebels tailed closely and pushed forward to a 3-point run, an attack error by Meuth leading into an Aggie timeout. A&M began to flatten out, and Ole Miss took the first win of the match 25-19.
Set 3 took off with more aggression from A&M. Meuth served her fourth ace, followed by another error. Meuth statistically offsets her offensive play with 38 total service errors for the season that naturally come along with her aggressive approach. Redshirt junior middle blocker Madison Bowser put down her first kill of the night and currently leads the team in hitting percentage, 0.402, and blocks, 45. Bowser answered a scrappy rally point with another kill and elevated the gym’s energy even higher.
In-system play and strong players on both sides of the net lead up to a 14-all tie. The play was sluggish after the media timeout with two back-to-back service errors from A&M and one from Ole Miss. Meuth and freshman middle blocker Ifenna Cos-Okpalla secured the lead once again with a kill from both. The 24-22 set-point timeout was called by Ole Miss in an attempt to cut off A&M after an unexpected dump by graduate setter Elena Karakasi. The last play of Set 2 ended with an Ole Miss hitting error, and A&M tied up the match with a 25-22 win. Historically, the past 10 A&M and Ole Miss matchups have resulted in a minimum of four sets.
A&M took off with an early 5-2 lead in Set 3. Freshman opposite hitter and fourth-generation Aggie Logan Lednicky put down her fourth kill of the night, followed by another Ole Miss timeout. Lednicky picked up her pace with six total kills in this set and balanced out the offense alongside Meuth. Ole Miss closed in on the gap, and tensions in the Gillom Center were high at the 21-19 timeout by A&M. The Rebels tied it up 24-all, and both teams were eager to take the win. Ole Miss took back the match and won the third set 28-26 in an intense, fast-paced fashion.
The energy stayed alive in Set 4 with no signs of fatigue from either team. A&M went on another 4-point run and worked to push the match to a fifth set. Ole Miss quickly paused to regroup at the 9-5 timeout. The Rebels had solid control of the momentum and tied up the set 12-all. The back-and-forth play continued with big swings on both sides. Seven-straight points won the fourth set for A&M, and Set 5 was destined to start off with tensions high.
A&M had no room for error in order to secure the game win in Set 5. Meuth continued her booming performance this match with three more kills, and A&M was only 2 points away from the match win. A test of gas and fumes in the final set of the match ended with an Aggie win 15-10 on Lednicky’s kill for their SEC opener.
The maroon and white were led offensively by 24 kills from Meuth, her ninth double-digit kill game, 15 from Lednicky, and seven from Bowser, and finished with a solid 0.317 hitting percentage. Karakasi finished with 11 digs on defense, followed by 10 from freshman libero Ava Underwood.
Kuhn was proud of her team’s ability to rise up to the challenge and looks forward to growing their identity as SEC play continues.
“Anytime you go on the road in the SEC, you know it’s going to be a grind,” Kuhn said. “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.”
A&M will return to Reed Arena to host a pair of games against Tennessee on Saturday, Sept. 24, and Sunday, Sept. 25, at 2 p.m. A T-shirt and pizza giveaway is set for Saturday’s game, and post-match autographs will be available following Sunday’s game.

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