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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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One step away
June 8, 2024

Texas A&M falls short in five sets to No. 5 Penn State

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Photo by Photo by C. Morgan Engel

Sophomore outside hitter Hollann Hans, the 2016 AVCA South Region Freshman of the Year, rises to serve the ball. 

Friday evening saw defending national champion No. 1 Stanford fall 3-1 to the Nittany Lions, and Saturday afternoon brought the unranked Maroon and White a chance to prove themselves against the Penn State powerhouse. This was the first time the programs have met since 1990 and the Lions advanced their all-time record to 4-0 with a thrilling 3-2 victory over the Aggies in five sets.

In the early minutes of the opening set, the Aggies found their rhythm in serve-receive, stringing together three aces and earning a 26-24 victory. In their second set a combination of serving errors and Nittany Lion Simone Lee dug the Aggies into a seven-point deficit. Lee, the 6-foot-1 outside hitter was on fire with 12 kills and hitting .391 with 3 errors through the first two sets. The Ags would fall 25-19 and head into the third set all squared up at 1-1.

A&M boasts an impressive newcomer squad, ranked as the 18th recruiting class in the nation. The young players held their composure nicely and are led by seniors Amy Nettles and Kiara McGee. Sophomore Hollann Hans and freshman Camille Connor held things down but both teams began to show signs of fatigue in the middle of the third set. The Nittany Lions also fell into a bout of miscommunication which led to the Aggies taking another lead. However, the veteran foundation of Penn State showed no signs of crumbling and the Ags dropped the third set 25-23, putting the Nittany Lions in position to earn another set victory.

Penn State’s Lee demonstrated a dominating performance that was ultimately too much to handle for the Aggies. Texas A&M did well to serve at Simone, forcing her to pass, but the Nittany Lions kept their composure and Lee punished the Ags with a match-high 30 kills. The All-American displayed her unparalleled athleticism by attacking from the front and back row, flying high above the net.

The standout on the Aggies side was Hans, dishing out a team-leading 28 kills and tallying a .382 hitting percentage. She led the young squad to put up a very close fight and didn’t leave Penn State an inch of wiggle room. Hans was able to attack Penn’s outside hitters with some out-of-system plays which forced the Lions to leave a wide-open middle court. Camille Conner was the foundation of the Maroon and White’s attack, racking up 43 assists from the front line, including 12 kills, tied with junior Kaitlyn Blake.

The Aggies came back in the fourth set with a 24-26 victory and sent both squads to set five at two sets apiece. They managed to keep things extremely close, but it was Penn State in the end whose experience and strength was left unmatched. The No. 5 Nittany Lions remain undefeated with the final 15-12 victory while Texas A&M suffers its first loss of the season and moves to 2-1 overall.

The Aggies get their shot at No. 1 Stanford tomorrow afternoon back at Reed Arena in College Station. First serve is slated for 11 a.m.

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