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Texas A&M Hosts No. 5 Florida Sunday, 1 p.m. on ESPNU

November 01, 2013
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Courtesy: Texas A&M Athletics
(photo: Texas A&M Athletics)

Texas A&M vs. No. 5 Florida
Sunday, Nov. 3
1 p.m., Reed Arena
College Station, Texas

TV: ESPNU/WatchESPN
Live Audio/Stats: AggieAthletics.com
Live Mobile Stats: tamustats.com
In-Game Updates: Twitter.com/AggieVolleyball

Promotions: $3 admission with A&M-UTEP football ticket; 300 free pizza rolls at end of match

Texas A&M Hosts No. 5 Florida Sunday on ESPNU

COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- Texas A&M concludes a three-match home stand as the Aggies play host to defending Southeastern Conference champion and fifth-ranked Florida Sunday at Reed Arena. First serve is at 1 p.m., and the match will be nationally televised on ESPNU with Sam Gore and Jennifer Hoffman calling the action.

Fans will be admitted for only $3 by presenting a ticket from Saturday’s Texas A&M-UTEP football game. In addition, 300 pizza rolls will be given away at the conclusion of the match.

Texas A&M (11-9, 3-6 SEC) faced the top hitting team in the nation in a 3-0 (25-17, 29-27, 25-20) loss to SEC-leader and 11th-ranked Missouri on Sunday, and now the Aggies take on the No. 2 hitting team in the country, Florida (20-2 overall, 9-1 SEC entering a Friday contest at LSU). The Aggies, led by senior triple-threat setter Allie Sawatzky and sophomore middle blocker Shelby Sullivan, who tied her career high with 16 kills while hitting a personal-best .682 against Missouri look to avenge a 3-2 loss to the Gators last year at Reed and a 3-0 loss at Florida earlier this season.

Florida, which enters the week hitting .334 for the year as well as a league-leading .334 in SEC matches only, rebounded from a 3-1 loss at Missouri on Oct. 20 with back-to-back sweeps against both Auburn and Tennessee last weekend in Gainesville. The Gators have never lost to A&M in eight previous meetings.

FOLLOW THE ACTION

·         The match will be televised on ESPNU and can also been seen on WatchESPN with Sam Gore calling the play-by-play and Jennifer Hoffman providing color commentary

·         Free audio of all A&M home matches is available at AggieAthletics.com with Chelsea Reber and Casey Richardson calling the action

·         Live stats will be available on AggieAthletics.com and can also be viewed on mobile devices at tamustats.com

·         Updates and other information can be found by following AggieVolleyball on Twitter.com

UP NEXT

The Aggies begin a challenging stretch in which they play three road matches over a six-day span. A&M plays at Mississippi State for the first time in program history on Friday, Nov. 8 and then faces Ole Miss in Oxford on Sunday, Nov. 10 before taking on rival LSU in a Wednesday night match in Baton Rouge, La., on Nov. 13. A&M will play a total of five matches over 10 days as the Aggies then return home to host Tennessee on Friday, Nov. 15 and Auburn on Sunday, Nov. 17.

RECENT RESULTS

Sophomore Shelby Sullivan paced Texas A&M last week, posting back-to back career kill performances as the Aggies came back to defeat Arkansas, 3-1 (27-29, 25-20, 25-23, 25-22), and then fell to No. 11 Missouri, 3-0. The 6-2 middle blocker was nearly flawless as she had a personal-best 16 kills in consecutive matches while hitting a combined .612 with only two errors.

Allie Sawatzky posted her league-leading 14th double-double of the season against Arkansas with 10 kills and 47 assists, and sophomore opposite hitter Sierra Patrick reached the 20-kill mark for the fourth time this season to lead all A&M attackers.

Defensively, Aggie redshirt freshman middle blocker Jazzmin Babers, second in the SEC with 1.28 blocks per set for the full season and a 1.34 block average in conference matches only, spearheaded the Aggies’ block with five as A&M outblocked Arkansas 10-5. Freshman defensive specialist Victoria Arenas had a career-high 20 digs and senior Heather Reynolds collected 16 digs as she was the designated libero for the first time in her career.

Against Missouri, Babers once again led all players with five blocks and also joined Sullivan with double-figure kills as she tied her career high with 10 while hitting at a .529 clip. Arenas led the Aggies in digs with 13.

TEXAS A&M TEAM NOTES

·         Texas A&M ranks third in the SEC and 16th in the nation with 14.38 kills per set for the full season. The Aggies also are third in the league and 17th in the country with 13.42 assists per set.

·         A&M is fifth in the conference in both hitting percentage (.244) and digs per set (15.96); however, A&M is 13th in opponent hitting percentage (.217).

·         In SEC matches only, A&M is third in both kills (14.16) and assists (13.28) per set and fourth in hitting percentage (.252)

·         Five starters are averaging at least 2.50 points per set, including senior lefty setter Allie Sawatzky, who averages 2.55 points per set. Sophomore outside hitter Sierra Patrick leads all players with 3.59 points per set, followed by sophomore middle blocker Shelby Sullivan (3.41 pps); sophomore outside hitter Angela Lowak (3.17 pps); and redshirt freshman middle blocker Jazzmin Babers (2.75 pps).

·         A&M has used 10 different starting lineups in 20 matches and 11 different lineups when considering the designated libero. Only setter Allie Sawatzky and middle blockers Shelby Sullivan and Jazzmin Babers have started every match. They are also the only three who have played in all 72 sets.

·         In the season opener against South Dakota State, five of six A&M players were making the first start of their collegiate careers, including freshmen Emily Hardesty and Jazzmin Babers at outside hitter and middle blocker, respectively. Senior setter Allie Sawatzky was the only upperclassman in the lineup, as sophomore outside hitters Angela Lowak and Sierra Patrick and sophomore middle blocker Shelby Sullivan also drew their first career starts.

·         Sophomores and freshmen have accounted for 80 percent of A&M’s total kills (829 of 1035), 95 percent or 35 of 37 of the team’s solo blocks and 224 of 257 (87 percent) of the team’s block assists. The underclassmen also are responsible for 1016 of 1284.5 (79 percent) of A&M’s total points.

·         Five of A&M’s losses have been to ranked opponents. The Aggies, who lead the SEC with six matches against Top 25 opponents, are 1-5 against ranked foes, defeating Florida State, 3-0, and falling to No. 7 Michigan, 3-2, No. 15 Iowa State, 3-1, and No. 3 Florida No. 11 Missouri and No. 22 Colorado State, 3-0.

·         Texas A&M won two of three pre-conference tournaments, winning the UTSA Classic with a 3-0 mark and winning its own Texas A&M Invitational. The Aggies, No. 7 Michigan and No. 16 Florida State all finished with 2-1 records in College Station, but A&M was awarded the trophy based on the sets won-lost ratio tiebreaker. A&M placed second at the season-opening UND Classic, won by No. 15 Iowa State.

·         Eleven of A&M’s 29 scheduled matches will be against teams that appeared in the 2012 NCAA Championship, including Michigan and Florida State, who reached the Final Four in 2012 and 2011, respectively. A&M is currently 4-5 against last year’s NCAA tournament teams.

·         Texas A&M head coach Laurie Corbelli returns two starters -- setter Allie Sawatzky and outside hitter Heather Reynolds, who is a defensive specialist this year -- and eight other letterwinners from last year’s team that won the SEC West with a 16-4 record and was 25-6 overall with a No. 17 final RPI after advancing to the NCAA second round, where the Aggies fell to eventual national champion Texas. She also welcomes two redshirt freshmen and four true freshmen.

·         A&M, the 2012 SEC Western Division Champion, was picked to win the SEC West again this year, along with LSU, according to a preseason vote of the league’s head coaches. However, in a meeting held in late August, the SEC athletics directors passed a measure, effective immediately, to recognize and award divisional champions in the sports of football and baseball only.

AGGIE PLAYER NOTES

·         Senior setter Allie Sawatzky leads the SEC with five triple-doubles, including most recently a 10-kill, 25-assist, 12-dig performance in a sweep against Mississippi State on Oct. 11. Arkansas setter Raymariely Santos has one triple-double and is the only other SEC player to register a triple-double this season. Sawatzky is tied for the league-lead with 14 double-doubles.

·         Sawatzky, a 6-2 lefty, has recorded 10 or more kills 10 times this season and is hitting a combined .448 when posting 10 or more kills. She is second on the team and 15th in the SEC with a .303 hitting percentage, while averaging 2.15 kills per set. In addition, she is averaging 10.04 assists. Sawatzky, who hit a career-high .714 (minimum 10 kills) with 10 kills, zero errors in 14 attempts in the sweep against Mississippi State, is hitting .308 in SEC matches only, ranking 13th in the league.

·         Sawatzky has started every match of her career (112) at setter and has played in 413 of 416 total sets during her career. She moved into third place in the A&M career records on Oct. 6 at South Carolina, surpassing Yvonne Van Brandt, who had 3,894 assists from 1986-89. Sawatzky, who now has 4,163 career assists, also ranks 10th in the career records with 839 points.

·         Middle blocker Shelby Sullivan is second in the SEC with a .464 hitting percentage in conference matches only. She was nearly unstoppable during the two matches last weekend, posting a career-high 16 kills in consecutive matches with only one error in each match for a combined .612 hitting percentage. She hit a career-high .682 (16k-0e-22ta) against Missouri, ranking eighth in the A&M single match records when making 20 or more attack attempts, and her 16 kills against the Tigers is the most by an A&M player in a three-set match this season. Sullivan is seventh in the SEC with a .360 hitting percentage for the full season.

·         Babers is second in the SEC and 39th in the nation with 1.28 blocks per set for the full season. The 6-2 redshirt freshman, who is second in the SEC with 1.34 blocks per set in league matches only, has recorded nine or more blocks in a match three times this season.

·         Babers, the SEC Defensive Player of the Week on Sept. 16, had a career-high 11 blocks against No. 7 Michigan (Sept. 13). It is the most blocks by an A&M freshman since Melissa Munsch collected 13 against Colorado on Oct. 24, 2001.

·         Sophomore Sierra Patrick has posted double-figure kills in a team-leading 12 matches and leads the Aggies and is 10th in the SEC with 3.28 kills per set for the full season. She also leads A&M and is 14th in the conference with 3.59 points per set for the full season, having seen action on both the left and right sides.

·         Patrick, a two-time all-tournament selection in 2013, has posted 20 or more kills in a team-leading four matches this season.

·         Sophomore outside hitter Angela Lowak has posted double-figure kills in 10 matches this season, including a career-high 21 kills against Loyola Marymount. She is second on the team and ranks 17th in the SEC with 2.88 kills per set.

·         Senior setter/defensive specialist Mariah Agre leads the team and is fifth in the SEC with 0.32 aces per set for the full season.

·         For the first time in her career, senior Heather Reynolds was the designated libero in both matches last weekend. Reynolds tallied a personal season-high 16 digs in the 3-1 victory against Arkansas.

·         Senior Kelsey Kinley, who has been the libero in 18 matches, leads the Aggies and ranks 11th in the SEC with 3.64 digs per set. The College Station native has tallied 10 or more digs in 15 matches, including a career-high and team season-high 23 in a 3-1 victory at UTSA. Kinley has taken or tied for team-high honors in digs in 12 matches overall.

·         Freshman Victoria Arenas made her A&M libero debut in the third set against South Carolina on Oct. 6. For the first point of the set, Arenas dug a hard-driven ball that then went over the net and fell in for a kill. It was the first kill of her A&M career. Arenas, who has been a defensive specialist for all but the two sets she played libero, has appeared in 16 matches overall -- starting five -- and in 46 sets. She had a career-high 20 digs in the 3-1 win against Arkansas on Oct. 25 and is now averaging 2.70 digs per set in SEC matches.

·         Redshirt freshman middle blocker Jazzmin Babers has started every match this season and is one of four freshmen on the team to start a match. Outside hitter/opposite hitter Emily Hardesty has started nine matches, and setter/opposite hitter Kaysie Shebeneck has started five matches. In addition, defensive specialist/libero Victoria Arenas has started five matches. Arenas, Babers and Shebeneck all started against Michigan, marking the first time A&M had three freshmen in the starting lineup this season. The trio has now appeared in the starting lineup three times overall.

SCOUTING FLORIDA

·         Florida is 20-2 overall and in second place in the SEC with a 9-1 league mark entering a match at LSU on Friday. The Gators are 6-1 in away matches with the only loss being the 3-1 setback at No. 18 Missouri on Oct. 20.

·         Florida entered the week ranked in the top 10 in the nation in four statistical categories: second in hitting percentage (.334); fourth in kills per set (15.08); seventh in match win-loss percentage (.909); and eighth in assists per set (13.68). The Gators also are 25th in the country with 1.63 aces per set.

·         Senior middle blocker and reigning SEC Player of the Year Chloe Mann leads the nation with a .506 hitting percentage while averaging 3.37 kills per set. Freshman right side Alex Holston ranks 13th in the country with a .430 hitting efficiency and is averaging 2.62 kills per set.

·         Senior setter Taylor Brauneis leads the SEC with 0.41 aces per set. She is third in the league and seventh in the nation with 11.75 assists per set.

·         Mary Wise (Purdue ‘81), who celebrated her 700 victory the last time the Gators and Aggies met, is 706-82 (.896) in her 23rd season as head coach at Florida.

ALL-TIME SERIES RECORD

·         Texas A&M is 0-8 all-time against Florida, including 0-3 in College Station.

·         The teams met earlier this season (Oct. 4) in Gainesville, with the No. 3 Gators winning, 3-0 (25-9, 25-23, 25-17). Florida posted a .369 hitting percentage, the highest by an A&M opponent this season, while A&M hit .172. Florida’s Simone Antwi led all players with 12 kills and hit .632. Sierra Patrick was the only A&M player to post double-digit kills with 11 but was held to a .176 hitting efficiency.

·         In the only meeting last year, Texas A&M won the first two sets, 25-14, 27-25, but 11th-ranked Florida came back to win the next three, 25-23, 25-23, 15-6, to take the match, 3-2, at Reed Arena. It was the first time in the series that the match was determined in five sets.

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