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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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A&M volleyball shows perseverance, grit in series split with Auburn

Texas+A%26amp%3BM+volleyball+coach%26%23160%3BLaura+%26%238220%3BBird%26%238221%3B+Kuhn+talked+to+the+team+during+their+match+against+Auburn.
Photo by Photo by Ishika Samant

Texas A&M volleyball coach Laura “Bird” Kuhn talked to the team during their match against Auburn.

While the series may not have gone its way, the determination and tenacity on the Texas A&M volleyball team is undeniable.

The Aggies snapped a four-game losing streak when they took down the Auburn Tigers 3-2 on Thursday, Nov. 4. Coming off a bye week, A&M had not played since Oct. 24. Unfortunately for the maroon and white, it couldn’t follow up with another victory, as its comeback attempt came up just short as the team fell 3-2 in Game 2 of the doubleheader against the Tigers. 

Junior outside hitter Morgan Christon set the pace for the A&M offense in Game 1. Christon churned out 19 kills, along with fifth-year setter Camille Conner, whose 52 assists led the team. Defensively, the Aggies were led by career-high performances from sophomore middle blocker Madison Bowser, with nine blocks, and freshman defensive specialist Brooke Frazier, with 23 digs.

“It’s awesome,” Frazier said about her performance. “I really trust my teammates and my coaches, and it was really important for us to execute the plan that we had. I did my best for them tonight, and it was really awesome to accomplish that.”

In the opening set, the Aggies utilized a 5-0 run to jump out to an early 7-1 lead. A&M would soon improve its lead to 15-8, then 20-13 thanks to several kills by junior outside hitter Lauren Davis. However, the Tigers didn’t show any signs of quitting, as they would utilize multiple runs of three and four points to even the score at 25. From here, both teams traded points until Auburn broke up the back-and-forth affair to take the first set 29-27.

Auburn carried their momentum from the first set to gain an early 3-0 lead, but kills by Christon and Davis helped the Aggies tie things up at 6. Two service aces from senior middle blocker Mallory Talbert keyed a 5-0 run that would give A&M an 11-6 lead. With their offense churning, the Aggies grew their lead to 17-8, then fended off a 4-0 Auburn run to cruise to a 25-17 victory. 

Both teams traded points to open the third set with the score tied 8, but a 7-0 run by the Tigers gave Auburn a 15-8 lead that it wouldn’t relent for the rest of the set. The Aggies mounted a comeback attempt with a 9-2 run, but would fall short as the Tigers won the set 25-20.

A&M began the must-win fourth set with a vengeance, pioneering an early 9-3 lead off of three kills from Christon. The Tigers would mount a 5-2 run, but would be no match for the Aggies, who ended the set on a 10-3 run for a 25-14 victory. 

The maroon and white jumped to an early 3-1 lead in the decisive fifth set following two kills and a block from Christon. A 3-0 A&M run gave the Aggies an 8-4 lead over the Tigers, who would claw back to bring the score within two at 14-12. Despite this, junior outside hitter Ciera Hecht slammed a kill to close out the match and secure the 15-12 victory for the maroon and white.

The Aggies earned high praise from A&M head coach Laura “Bird” Kuhn, who commended their tenacity and determination during the match. According to Kuhn, this perseverance was on full display during the fourth and fifth sets in particular.

“That’s one of the things that I love about this team,” Kuhn said. “They take initiative. That was all on them, and we let them do that. I’m proud of the way that we evened out in the fourth and fifth sets. We were playing consistent, and it was just point by point. I’m proud of the way that we finished, now we have to find out how to continue playing with that consistency in each set.”

Game 2 of the doubleheader saw a different cast of players lead the Aggie in the scorebook. Junior opposite hitter Treyaunna Rush led the A&M offense with 16 kills, while Talbert wasn’t far behind with 15. Defensively, fifth-year libero Macy Carrabine paced the Aggies with 20 digs. Carrabine was complemented by Conner, who churned out 19 digs and 42 assists.

The Tigers wasted no time getting on the scoreboard in the match’s first set, jumping out to a 9-3 lead that would blossom into a 15-7 lead at the media timeout. A short 3-1 scoring run from the Aggies would trim the Auburn lead to 16-11, but the Tigers responded with a 7-2 run of their own to make it 23-13. Both teams traded points before Auburn picked up the 25-15 victory. 

The second set had a near-identical opening as the first, as the Tigers jumped to a 10-4 lead before the Aggies could muster a strong offensive attack. The opening involved three replay reviews initiated by Auburn head coach Brent Couch, a 1998 A&M graduate, two of which were overturned. A&M managed to trim the lead to 15-11 at the media timeout before pulling ahead at 19-18 with a 7-0 run that involved five straight kills from Rush. But the Tigers clawed back, putting together a 7-3 run to win the set 25-22, giving them a 2-0 match lead.

Set 3 saw a change in momentum, as the maroon and white jumped to a 5-0 lead to open the set. A&M entered the media timeout with a four-point advantage at 15-11 following Carrabine’s third service ace of the match. Auburn later brought the score to 20-18 before the Aggies engineered a 5-1 run to take the victory 25-19, igniting the home crowd of 2,331.

“The 12th Man is awesome,” Conner said. “There were moments in the match where I was doubting myself. I could hear the 12th Man, and it just reminds me why I play volleyball and why I am here. This is why I’m at A&M.”

The Aggies continued their momentum into the fourth set, picking up a 10-6 lead before the Tigers once again battled back to level the score at 11, one of the set’s ten ties. After a short Auburn lead at 12-11, both teams traded points until the score was knotted at 18. From here, the A&M offense kicked into high gear, going on a 7-2 run for the 25-20 victory. At this point, it became apparent the Aggies’ dream of a comeback may become a reality.

“Volleyball is a game of momentum, so once you control that again and feel it, the team was able to get back into it,” Kuhn said. “We had to turn it around and make changes, and I think we responded well in the third and fourth set. It comes down to executing and finishing.”

The Aggies once again began the decisive fifth set with a lead as Talbert’s 14th kill helped them pick up an early 6-2 lead. However, Auburn battled back to tie the set at 12. From here, the Tigers went on a 3-0 scoring run, powered by two kills from junior outside hitter Rebekah Rath, to finish off the Aggies, 15-12.

Now 1-5 in their past six matches, the Aggies look to return to the win column when they take on Kentucky, the Southeastern Conference’s top team, on Saturday, Nov. 13. First serve is set for 3 p.m. from Lexington, Ky.

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