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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 sweeps South Carolina with block party led by Meuth

Chris Swann/ The Battalion

Sophomore MB Ifenna Cos-Okpalla (1) and Freshman OH Bianna Muoneke (13) jump to block the ball during Texas A&M’s game against Mississippi State at Reed Arena on Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2023.

“It’s not how you start, but how you finish.”
The Texas A&M volleyball team took the famous quote to heart as it overcame early deficits to sweep South Carolina at Reed Arena on Sunday, Oct. 15.
Sophomore middle blocker Ifenna Cos-Okpalla set the tone early in Set 1, scoring early kills to put A&M up 7-3 before South Carolina called its first timeout. The pause in action helped the Gamecocks recover as they came out on a 5-0 run, capitalizing on A&M’s attack and service errors.
After a stretch where South Carolina led the Maroon and White, a Cos-Okpalla substitution back into the game helped breathe life back into the Aggies. A back-and-forth exchange saw A&M regain the lead 17-16 as South Carolina called another timeout. This time, however, the Aggies didn’t slow down as a run led by back-to-back blocks by sophomore middle blocker Morgan Perkins and graduate outside hitter Caroline Meuth put them up 22-17.
On their last leg, the Gamecocks retaliated with their own 3-0 run that forced A&M coach Jamie Morrison to take a timeout. Cos-Okpalla once again called her own number as she spiked home a set from freshman setter Margot Manning to secure a win in the opening set.
The second set’s opening marked the first slow start in what was to come for the Aggies as they fell behind early, 7-3. However, Meuth took over, with back-to-back kills in a 5-0 run to bring the Maroon and White back to tie the set at 9.
After the two teams traded blows, A&M held a slim lead of 22-20 as it entered the final stretch. However, a pair of attack errors by freshman outside hitter Bianna Muoneke helped the Gamecocks tie the set back up. Following a kill by Cos-Okpalla, sophomore libero Ava Underwood put the set away for the Aggies as she served up a service ace and caused an attack error from South Carolina.
As South Carolina found themselves down 2-0 in sets, it came out the gates hot in Set 3 to take an early 5-1 lead. Senior outside hitter Riley Whitesides was all over the place for the Gamecocks as she scored two kills in that stretch as well as a service ace. More self-inflicted wounds by the Maroon and White helped the Gamecocks take a 15-9 lead before Morrison had seen enough and called a timeout.
Then, it happened. Whatever Morrison said to his team worked as it came alive and went on a tear, scoring 10 straight points to take the lead at 22-18. Though South Carolina put a stop to it with 2 points, the Aggies ripped off a 3-0 run to put the Gamecocks away for good.
Following a career day from Meuth where she was all over the court with 17 kills and eight blocks, she credited preparation and discipline as the main reason.
“Our scout [team] was really helpful and had us in good positions,” Meuth said. “We kind of knew what [South Carolina] wanted to do and they weren’t able to do what they wanted to do after a while.”
Meuth also credited her teammates and their touches as another reason for success in how well the team blocked.
“People always talk about the stuffed blocks, but really it’s the touches,” Meuth said. “Setting disciplined hands over the net so that the defense can set up around it and make good plays, we did really good on that front and that’s the kind of stat that people don’t really talk about much.”
After being on the road for three games, Morrison said that it was nice to be back home playing in front of the 12th Man again.
“We come home and obviously it’s great to play at home in front of your fans and the 12th Man,” Morrison said. “Our student section and I’ll even say the family section has been impressive every single night and our team is grateful.”
Next up, the Aggies will face a familiar foe as they rematch the No. 14 Florida Gators, this time at Reed Arena on Friday, Oct. 20. First serve is set at 6:30 p.m. The teams last met on Sept. 27, with A&M defeating then-No. 4 Florida 3-2.

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