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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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The BattalionMay 4, 2024

A&M Volleyball eyes Rebels in hopes of ending four-game skid in final home game

Photo by CJ Smith

Freshman OPP Ital Lopuyo (2) prepares to spike the ball during Texas A&M’s game against Tennessee on Sunday, Nov. 19, 2023 at Reed Arena. (CJ Smith/The Battalion)

A season that turned a 2-2 start into a four-game winning streak in conference play has now become a bumpy one for Texas A&M’s volleyball team.
Following their four-game winning streak, the Aggies lost the next seven out of eight games. In conference play, A&M is now 7-9 and is coming off a loss to No. 8 Tennessee.
On Wednesday, Nov. 22, A&M will have a chance to end this losing streak and put itself in a position to get closer to .500 against the Ole Miss Rebels, in the final home game for the Aggies.
During their first matchup of the season on Friday, Oct. 6, Ole Miss fell to the Aggies 3-1. In that match, Ole Miss won Set 3 16-25 after starting down 2-0 but couldn’t do much more as A&M finished them off in the fourth set with a convincing set score of 25-13.
In the last game of the season for Ole Miss, the Rebels look to end coach Bre Henry’s first full season on a high note and prevent an in-conference opponent from getting .500 that has historically had their number, as the Aggies lead the Rebels in their all time series 20-3.
Ole Miss is 5-12 in the conference and 11-17 overall as they sit third to last in the SEC standings. This season has been a rough one for a Rebels squad that started 2-1 in conference play and then went on to lose eight straight.
However, the Rebels were able to end a three-game losing streak with a 3-0 sweep over Mississippi State on Sunday, Nov. 19.
The Rebels have senior middle blocker Sasha Ratliff and her 242 kills on the year and 100 blocks. Helping her out on offense is senior outside hitter Anna Bair with 233 kills and is coming off back-to-back nine-kill games against Arkansas and Mississippi State.
The other side of the net has sophomore outside hitter Logan Lednicky, who leads both teams in kills on the year with 315. Not far behind her in total kills with 267 is freshman outside hitter Bianna Muoneke, who has made an immediate impact in her college career.
A&M’s offense sits near the top five range in the SEC, as they are fifth in hitting percentage, sixth in kills and fifth in assists.
Ole Miss, however, has an offense that sits towards the back of the SEC, with its hitting percentage sitting at 11th and ninth in kills and assists.
The Aggies offense has to watch out for senior middle blocker Payton Brgoch, who has a total of 106 blocks for the year. Right behind her is sophomore defensive specialist Cammy Niesen with a total of 438 digs for the year.
A&M’s defense is led by sophomore middle blocker Ifenna Cos-Okpalla who leads the nation in blocks per set with an average of 1.69. The back row has a team leader in diggs with 225 sophomore libero Ava Underwood.
In the matchup against Tennessee, Cos-Okpalla did not play in the first two sets of the match but was put in the third where she recorded three blocks in the final set. The Aggies were only able to put up two blocks in the two sets that Cos-Okpalla did not play.
Teams are looking to attack the players outside Cos-Okpalla as A&M is last in the SEC in diggs. As seen against the Lady Volunteers, opponents are seeing their hitting percentage go up when Cos-Okpalla is not on the floor as Tennessee hit .394 and .438 in the first two sets compared to the usual .190 opponent hitting percentage when she is on the floor.
Ole Miss’ defense has shown promise as they sit fourth in the SEC in diggs with a total of 1,512 and seventh in blocks with 240.5.
Both squads have displayed high-level defense all year in their own ways. This matchup is going to be a slugfest that will come down to whichever team can put something together offensively.
This matchup between the Aggies and Rebels is set for 6:30 p.m. in College Station at Reed Arena.

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