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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Volleyball set for NCAA Tournament to begin

It’s that time of year in the college volleyball world. The magical season of comeback wins, a conference championship and hard work comes down to one final ride for A&M volleyball – the NCAA Tournament.
After a frustrating beginning to the season with injuries claiming a couple of A&M’s starters, the Aggies reeled off 14 straight wins to end the regular season and claim their first conference championship in program history to storm into the NCAA tournament as one of th enation’s hottest teams.  
The SEC Champion Aggies (26-3, 16-2 SEC) start off the post-season campaign with the Southland Conference champions, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (31-4, 16-0 Southland). The two will battle it out Friday evening at 6:30 p.m. at Reed Arena following a 4:30 match between No. 7 Hawaii and TCU.
The 12th Man has proved to be a valuable asset time and again this season. The Aggies have been dominant at Reed, and have only lost one game at home this year. That homecourt advantage helped them through their final tough stretch of the schedule, where they took out Missouri, Florida and Kentucky.
“I feel like as a team, we brought it together when it counts,” junior outside hitter Emily Hardesty said. “We performed when it mattered under pressure, and I’m glad I could contribute. In the fourth set against Missouri, we were down 22-18 and we got back point-by-point… Every win that we got just gave us more confidence to keep moving forward.”
Large crowds at Reed Arena came to support volleyball in recent games, and the homecourt advantage of Reed Arena will no doubt be a major advatage for A&M. Senior middle blocker and team captain Shelby Sullivan said she was excited to play in front of the 12th Man at least one more time.
“It’s amazing getting to play in front of the 12th Man for, hopefully, two more matches, and getting to be at Reed Arena” Sullivan said. “No opponent wants to come here and play against us here. We’re really excited to have two other Texas teams and a team from Hawaii come here and get to play against us… It is nice, we’re comfortable [at Reed Arena]; we play well here, we get to practice here everyday so it is an advantage.”
The Islanders are a force to be reckoned with after going 16-0 in Southland Conference play, and 31-4 overall. The only issue with the Islanders is that they can be a bit shaky when playing on the road. Even with the homecourt advantage, junior Kiara McGee and the Aggies are not taking this game lightly.
“I feel like all NCAA games can be a big game for us to come out and show what we’re fighting for,” McGee said. “Everyone wants it just as bad as we do, but we don’t expect them to just come out and let them beat us. We’re going to come out and fight, just like we fight.”
First serve is scheduled to commence at 6:30 p.m. between the Aggies and Islanders at Reed Arena. The winners of the A&M and A&M-Corpus Christi match will challenge the winner of the Hawaii-TCU match Saturday at 6:30 Saturday evening in Reed Arena in the second round of the NCAA tournament.

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