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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 volleyball returns to Reed, sweeps Islanders

Photo by via @AggieVolleyball on Twitter

On the afternoon of Monday, Sept. 6 the Texas A&M volleyball team held their first home match of the season in Reed Arena, defeating the Corpus Christi Islanders 3-0. 

Texas A&M volleyball maintained its perfect all-time record against the A&M-Corpus Christi Islanders with a dominant three-set sweep.

Head coach Laura “Bird” Kuhn kicked off her fourth home campaign with the Aggies, hoping to make up for last season’s underwhelming 9-9 record, ending on a five-game losing streak. The home opener against the Islanders featured a slow start from the maroon and white but quickly turned into a slugfest ending with A&M clinching the victory in the third set.

A&M senior middle blocker London Austin-Roark said the team entered Monday’s competition without basic strategy around a home-court advantage. The energy inside Reed Arena, standing at full-force for the first time since the 2019 season, ultimately became too much to not factor in, she said.

“At the end of the day, we try to focus on just us on the court,” Austin-Roark said. “But it’s nice having that 12th Man surround sound around you. Even if we’re tired, sweating and wiping sweat off the floor, we still have energy in the gym.”

The Islanders opened the first set with nearly untouchable gameplay, going on a 5-0 run out of the gate. A&M senior middle blocker Mallory Talbert managed to halt the momentum with a kill to score the Aggies’s first point of the match, but the maroon and white was forced to call a timeout after A&M-CC regained its footing and again broke away. After the hiatus, A&M used an 8-3 breakaway to knot the score at 15. An attacking error by the visiting team gave the Aggies their first lead of the afternoon, 21-20, and paved the way for an eventual 25-22 win. A block by Talbert secured the set point.

Unbothered by her team’s performance, Kuhn said the first set panned out according to what has become standard for the program over recent years.

“This group, we can be slow starters sometimes,” Kuhn said. “Even though the team has energy, it feels like they often have to settle into the vibe of the game to get us rolling. Sometimes it takes us calling a timeout, but hopefully over time it will click for them.”

The second set began as a close opposite to the first, with the Aggies claiming four unanswered points before the Islanders found the scoreboard and eventually tied the score at nine. A back-and-forth followed, with the opposing teams trading leads four times until A&M-CC stalled at 20. A&M took advantage of the stymie, using a kill by junior opposite hitter Destiny Cox to take the set. En route to the team’s second consecutive trip to 25 points, A&M notched three aces and 17 kills, with only six errors.

A&M senior defensive specialist Taylor Voss set the tone in the third set, opening with a service ace. The home squad never looked back, taking a 7-2 pull away before the Islanders were forced to call a timeout. A quick comeback by A&M-CC tied the board at 12, but a string of five consecutive serves from Austin-Roark gave the home team some breathing room. Keeping its lead for the remainder of the set, A&M secured the victory with a match point kill by junior opposite hitter Ciera Hecht.

While many celebrated the sweep, Cox said a three-set victory is not something to take for granted. Instead, she is focused on how to improve and build off the skill showcased against the Islanders.

“We still have a lot to work on,” Cox said. “But right now, I like how my team is playing.”

Though they trailed the Islanders in total attacks, 130 to 123, the Aggies led in successes. A&M’s kill total locked at 44 to A&M-CC’s 40, captained by Cox’s 13 and Austin-Roark’s 12, and the maroon and white’s hit percentage of .252 was nearly double that of its opposition’s. A&M graduate senior libero Macy Carrabine led the match with 21 digs, while Talbert’s five blocks stood alone in their prestige.

Having been “out-attacked” by their opponents, Kuhn said one thing kept the Aggies in the game and allowed for the victory: determination. Situations like those seen in the matchup actually pushes A&M to become more of a threat going forward, she said.

“[The Islanders] had more attacks because they were covering. They were gritty,” Kuhn said. “We need that. We need to be pushed.”

With the home opener in the record books, the Aggies climbed to a 3-2 record, 1-1 at home, while the Islanders further fell to 1-5. A&M is 4-0 all-time over A&M-CC.

A&M volleyball returns to action Friday, Sept. 10 when it hosts the Houston Cougars for match one of the Texas A&M Invitational, set for 6 p.m. Matches two and three of the tournament, to be played against Albany and UTSA, are set for Saturday, Sept. 11 at 12:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., respectively.

Prepared for the upcoming season, Austin-Roark said she hopes to see many more sweeps by the Aggies at Reed Arena before all is said and done.

“[Monday’s match against A&M-CC] was just a taste of what we can do,” Austin-Roark said. “It’s fuel for our fire right now.”

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