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

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

The Battalion

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A&M prepares to battle for second

Photo by Photo by Kevin Chou

After a win over the No. 20 Kentucky Wildcats, A&M volleyball controls its own destiny in the SEC.
The Aggies (15-6, 8-2 SEC) return to Reed Arena at 5 p.m. Wednesday to face the Missouri Tigers (20-3, 8-2 SEC). A win for the Aggies could launch them into second place. Since Kentucky is 9-2 in conference play, winning out would make A&M the regular season SEC champs. The two also play later in the season.
The Aggies have persevered through an injury-ridden season from their SEC home-opening loss to Arkansas, to their recurring struggles on the road. Though these problems may still be quite evident in the eyes of the doubters, senior middle blocker Shelby Sullivan said the team is ready to show their worth.
“We’re just going to play Aggie volleyball,” Sullivan said. “We’re always shooting to be the best we can be, but we’re just focusing on one game at a time, winning every point we can every time we get the opportunity to play … We know how good we are so we can’t wait to showcase that on Wednesday.”
Missouri has won 11 matches away from home. The Aggies have demonstrated their ability to take advantage of home-court advantage this season with an 8-1 record. Texas A&M head coach Laurie Corbelli said the 12th Man’s support, specifically from the Corps of Cadets and the consistent season ticket holders, makes the home matches much more fun.
“We’re so excited, the Corps has been bringing some of their [major units],” Corbelli said. “They’re coming out and making noise, they know the yells and they do loud ‘Corps stuff.’ It’s just so cool, it makes such a difference for us and we really appreciate the 12th Man. We [also] have the same season ticket holders from 20 years ago and they never miss a match … It’s a great crowd and a great fan base and we’re really proud of that.”
Corbelli said A&M will need the 12th Man’s support against Missouri’s loaded roster. Carly Kan leads the Tigers with 375 kills on the season, over 150 more than the second highest on the team. Missouri takes advantage of Ali Kreklow and Courtney Eckenrode in the setter position, with 491 and 508 set assists on the season, respectively. Defensively, Alexa Ethridge nearly earns four digs per set, topped off by Alyssa Munlyn’s 100 total blocks on the season.
The Aggies have some explosive players of their own to combat the Tigers. For the third consecutive week, Stephanie Aiple has earned SEC Setter of the Week. In addition, she is also this week’s SEC Player of the Week. Shelby Sullivan has also garnered the SEC Defensive Player of the Week honors this week. They have both returned after injuries from earlier on in the season.
“At the beginning of the season, we had a few injuries — myself, Shelby and other players,” Aiple said. “It’s nothing new, we have had injuries in the past we’ve had to overcome, so I think we have a great training staff who thrives to get us back on the court … We just like to prove ourselves that we are playing for Aggie volleyball.”
The SEC clash for second place will be broadcasted on ESPNU.

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