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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One step away
June 8, 2024

Conner breaks A&M assist record in closely contested 5-set battle against Ole Miss

Photo by Photo by Ishika Samant

Junior Cici Hecht hits the ball her teammate set for her.

Despite fifth-year setter Camille Conner’s breach of history, the evenly-matched contest left Texas A&M volleyball disappointed.
On Wednesday, Oct. 13, A&M and Ole Miss brawled in a 5-set match that ended in Ole Miss’ favor.
A&M began the match with a strong 4-0 start, but quickly lost their rhythm due to errors and kills from Ole Miss that evened the first set 6-all. The match varied back and forth, until the Rebels grabbed a hold of a 15-13, two-point lead. Ultimately, Ole Miss’ relentless attacks could not be defended by the Aggies, resulting in a 25-18 first set loss. While the Aggies attempted to fight back, Conner surpassed the career assist record at A&M.
Head coach Laura “Bird” Kuhn said she is proud of Conner and the contributions she has made to the program.
“It’s awesome for her. It’s awesome for our program,” Kuhn said. “She has been a huge impact here on and off the court. I’m proud of her.”
With revenge on their minds, the Aggies played with perseverance in the second set, continuing to go point for point, but Ole Miss’ momentum and a handful of A&M attacking mistakes pushed a 10-7 lead for the Rebels. A series of errors by the Rebels helped the Aggies stay motivated, and a kill from junior outside hitter Morgan Christon tied the set, 14-all. The set continued with an ace from freshman defensive specialist Brooke Frazier tying the score at 19-all. A set of four errors by the Aggies gave the Rebels a 23-22 lead, but the maroon and white’s resilience allowed them to make a comeback. The Aggies and Rebels swapped back and forth between set points but came up short in the hard-fought 29-27 loss.
A&M’s two previous set losses lit a fire off and advanced the team to an exciting 5-1 start. Two kills from senior middle blocker Mallory Talbert assisted the team’s lead and forwarded the momentum and score in A&M’s favor. Ole Miss countered by keeping the score at a comfortable range, 14-11, but its efforts were not enough to catch up. Junior outside hitter Ciera “CiCi” Hecht documented four kills in the third set and played a huge contribution to A&M’s 25-16 win.
“CiCi [Hecht] did an awesome job opening up our offense,” Conner said. “[Hecht] makes me want to be an attacker again.”
The fourth set brought yet another neck-and-neck contest between the balanced SEC opponents. With a 6-all start, the Aggies and Rebels fought to take control until Ole Miss’ commanding offense steered the set to 19-14. A&M responded to its opponent’s success by exhibiting strengths of its own. Seven of Hecht’s 15 kills came during the fourth set and contributed to the 23-20 redemption mission. The deficit sparked a triumphant attitude in the Aggies, and they went on to win the match 26-24, causing one final fight to determine the outcome.
Hecht said being utilized at different positions has helped the team in the last few weeks.
“Throughout the season, I have been playing mostly back row, and in the past few matches, I have been thrown in front row,” Hecht said. “Camille and I, especially tonight, are starting to create that setter-hitter connection. It clicked, and it was working.”
In the closing set of the night, the Aggies lost a heartbreaker in a race to 15 points. Errors by A&M upped the score to a 6-3 Ole Miss lead, but a team effort allowed the Aggies to be resilient and tie the game, 10-all. Neither surrendered easily and displayed evenness in their abilities. The match came down to the wire, but Ole Miss pressed on and secured the match, 15-13.
“We need to earn it. We are back to old school, where you have to earn your spot and you have to compete everyday,” Kuhn said. “No matter who we are playing, it’s that competitive chemistry, and we need to find it.”
On Saturday, Oct. 16, A&M will head to Gainesville, Fla. to take on No. 23 Florida in another SEC West battle. The match is set to start at 4 p.m.

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