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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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Takeaways from A&M volleyball’s loss to Tennessee

Photo by CJ Smith

Head Coach Jaime Morrison looks down after dropping the second set during Texas A&M’s game against Tennessee on Sunday, Nov. 19, 2023 at Reed Arena. (CJ Smith/The Battalion)

Texas A&M volleyball returned to Reed Arena on Sunday, Nov. 19, to take on the No. 8 Tennessee Volunteers. The Aggies came into the match winning just one of their last seven conference matches and sat seventh in the SEC. Meanwhile, Tennessee came into the match tied for second in the SEC and won six of its last seven, including a 3-0 win over A&M on Sunday, Oct. 29.

Here are some takeaways from the Aggies’ 3-0 loss to the Lady Volunteers:

Senior day milestones

Senior libero Lauren Hogan and graduate outside hitter Caroline Meuth were honored after the match for senior day.

Hogan played in all three sets for A&M. She recorded a team-high four digs to bring her season total to 136. Coach Jamie Morrison said he thinks Hogan will be back with the team next year.

Meuth recorded nine kills last time out versus Kentucky, bringing her career total to 1,499 coming into this match. The San Antonio native broke the 1,500-kill mark early in the first set to put A&M up 8-6. Meuth finished the match with five kills to bring her season total to 279.

Morrison said he and the program will miss Meuth a lot.

“There’s a lot of coaches that come to programs and can’t wait to get their players in,” Morrison said. “I promised I wouldn’t do that. I know [Meuth] has another chance to play at home, but what she’s meant to me and this program means a lot.”

Streaky first set

The Maroon and White battled back-and-forth with the Volunteers in the beginning of the first set. Both teams traded points and A&M even held a 2-point lead, but the Aggies struggled to bounce back from a Tennessee run.

With the score tied 12-12, the Volunteers went on a 7-1 run to take a 19-13 lead late into the set. The Aggies gained 2 points of their own with a service ace by junior setter Nisa Buzlutepe and a service error by junior defensive specialist Ashllyn King. Tennessee took a 22-15 lead, but A&M brought the score to 23-20. However, Tennessee took the set after kills by graduate opposite hitter Morgahn Fingall and graduate outside hitter Jenaisya Moore.

Aggies missed Ifenna Cos-Okpalla

The Aggies severely missed the sophomore middle blocker’s defensive presence. Cos-Okpalla didn’t play the first two sets and made her first appearance in the third set, but by then, the Aggies found themselves down 2-0. Coach Jamie Morrison said it was a decision on the coaches’ end.

Cos-Okpalla came into the match with 142 total blocks on the year and her 1.67 blocks per set accounts for 59% of A&M’s blocks per set. The Maroon and White only had two total blocks in the entire first and second sets. In the third set, Cos-Okpalla recorded three blocks by herself, tied for highest on the team for the match with sophomore opposite hitter Logan Lednicky.

Cos-Okpalla is also a big reason for opposing teams having a .190 hitting percentage. The Lady Volunteers had .394 and .438 hitting percentages in the first and second sets, respectively, without Cos-Okpalla’s presence.

Sophomore Morgan Perkins and junior Molly Brown stepped in at the middle blocker position for A&M and each had two total blocks a piece.

12th Man support

The 12th Man came out and supported the Aggies in this matchup. The official attendance was 3,273, the 10th-largest crowd in program history. Morrison said he was distracted by the crowd before the match.

“I looked around and said ‘This is awesome,’” Morrison said. “I continue to be blown away and continue to have more gratitude towards what we’re going to be able to build here. I’m extremely grateful for [the attendance], but it’s just the tip of the iceberg.”

Next for A&M is its final home matchup versus Ole Miss on Wednesday, Nov. 22, with first serve slated for 6:30 p.m.

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About the Contributor
Eli Meschko
Eli Meschko, Sports Writer
Eli Meschko is a journalism senior from Boerne, Texas, and is minoring in communication and sports management. Eli has covered football, men's basketball, baseball, softball, hockey and track & field. Eli also writes for Dave Campbell's Texas Football as an intern. After graduation, Eli plans on pursuing a career in sports media or public relations.
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