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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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Volleyball prepares to host Texas A&M Invitational

Photo by File

A&M will play a doubleheader on Saturday against Wichita State at noon and Abilene Christian at 4:30pm. 

After splitting two games in the Stanford Tournament last weekend in Palo Alto, California, the Texas A&M volleyball team will host Abilene Christian, New Mexico State and Wichita State in the Texas A&M Invitational this weekend.

Aggie head coach Laurie Corbelli said the players were a bit tentative and unsure of themselves in the season opener against Stanford, the No. 2 team in the country. Instilling a fighting attitude is something the Aggies – who just missed out on being ranked in the Top 25 in the latest AVCA Coaches Poll – have worked on specifically this week in preparation for the invitational.

“I’m not above bribing, and I came pretty close [last weekend,]” Corbelli said. “This must be about a fight, it’s just something that’s got to happen.”

The Aggies’ serve receive is also a top priority heading into the weekend matches. With the velocity and precision that opposing teams are serving, it’s becoming more difficult to be consistent in that area, and it is an aspect of the game that is critical for A&M’s success.

“Stanford kind of threw us off a little [with their strength and athleticism], but we’ve been really working hard on our serve receive,” Corbelli said. “If that first reception does not set you up for your offensive system, then you’re not going to have much success. We know how important that first touch is, and we are continuing to work on it.”

And while the teams traveling to College Station this weekend might not come with as much national hype as Stanford, the competition is expected to be very tough.

“Two of the teams coming in – Wichita State and New Mexico State – are both teams that are receiving recognition nationally,” Corbelli said. “They have lots of returners, they have size, they have great coaches and we have our hands full to say the least.”

Corbelli said she hopes this weekend’s slate of games, particularly the matches against Wichita State and New Mexico State, will adequately prepare the Aggies for the rest of the season.

“I think they are very similar to SEC teams, especially with their size,” said Corbelli, who is going into her 23rd year as the A&M head coach. “They have some outside hitters with some real heavy arms, some big arms, and we see that a ton in the SEC play.”

This weekend’s invitational also marks the Aggies’ first time playing a regular season game in Reed Arena in 2015. Coach Corbelli said while it is nice to play in front of the home crowd, playing at home also brings some distractions and added pressure that will have to be overcome.

“Luckily we have some returners, lots of returners, that have been through that a lot,” Corbelli said.  “Hopefully [the distractions] will not negatively affect us this year, which is yet to be seen.”

Senior middle blocker Shelby Sullivan, who personally prefers to play in front of the 12th Man crowd rather than on the road, has been one of the returners who has stepped up and positively influenced the large number of underclassmen on the roster.

“I was fortunate when I was an underclassman to have great leaders before me,” Sullivan said. “So I tried to pick up a few things they did, and my co-captain Angela Lowack is a great leader, and I think we work really well together.”
A&M will play a doubleheader on Saturday with Wichita State at noon and Abilene Christian at 4:30 p.m., and will then square off against New Mexico State on Sunday at 1:00 p.m. All games will be played at Reed Arena and will be televised on the SEC Network.

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