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Volleyball Earns Bid to NCAA Championship

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

COLLEGE STATION, Texas – Texas A&M received an at-large bid to the 2013 NCAA Volleyball Championship and will face UTSA in the first round, Thursday, Dec. 5 at Gregory Gym in Austin, Texas, the NCAA Division I Women’s Volleyball Committee announced today.

The match against the Roadrunners will begin at 4:30 p.m. and will be followed by a first-round match between defending national champion and No. 1-seed Texas and Texas State at 7 p.m. The two winners will meet in the second round, Friday, Dec. 6 at 6 p.m. at Gregory Gym, with the winner earning a berth into the Lincoln, Neb. Regional, Dec. 13-14.

A&M (18-11, 10-8 SEC), which won seven of its last eight matches to close out the regular season and finish in a tie for sixth in the Southeastern Conference, is making its third consecutive and 21st overall appearance in the NCAA tournament. This marks the Aggies’ 17th appearance under 21st-year head coach Laurie Corbelli, making A&M one of only 14 teams in the nation that has made at least 17 appearances since she was hired in 1993.

UTSA won both the Conference USA regular season and tournament titles to finish the regular season 24-7. The Roadrunners, under the direction of Laura Neugebauer-Groff, are making their third overall appearance in the NCAA tournament and their first since 2010.

A&M is 9-0 in the all-time series against UTSA. The Aggies and Roadrunners met earlier this season in San Antonio with A&M winning, 3-1 (25-22, 25-16, 16-25, 25-15), to capture the UTSA Classic title.

Texas (23-2), which won the Big 12 Conference title to receive an automatic bid, is making its 10th consecutive appearance in the tournament. Texas State (24-14) won the Sun Belt Conference to receive an automatic berth. The Bobcats are making their ninth overall appearance in the tournament and their first appearance since 2011.

Texas A&M NCAA Tournament Notes: A&M is making its 21st overall appearance (1981, '82, '85, '86, '93, '94, '95, '96, '97, '98,' 99, 2000, '01, '02, '03, '04, '05, ’09, ’11, ’12, ‘13) since the inception of the tournament in 1981…A&M sports a 24-20 (.545) all-time record in the NCAA tournament, including a 22-16 (.579) mark during Corbelli's A&M tenure...A&M’s best finish in an NCAA tournament was a regional final appearance in both 1999 and 2001…A&M went 1-1 in the tournament last year in Austin Texas, defeating North Carolina State, 3-1, in the first round and falling to eventual national champion and former Big 12 rival Texas, 3-1, in the second round…The SEC has eight teams in the tournament field. In addition to Texas A&M, the SEC teams are: No. 4 seed Missouri, No. 5 seed Florida, No. 15 seed Kentucky, Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia and LSU. Missouri earned the SEC’s automatic bid by winning the conference title with an 18-0 record...The Aggies are 6-9 this year against teams in the NCAA tournament field.

NCAA Tournament Notes: Thirty-one conferences were awarded automatic qualification, and the remaining 33 slots were filled with at-large selections to complete the bracket...The top 16 teams were seeded nationally and placed within four regions...Sixteen first-and second-round matches will be played Dec. 5-6 or 6-7 on the campuses of participating institutions...Winners will advance to four predetermined regional sites:  Los Angeles, Calif., Lexington, Ky., Champaign, Ill., and Lincoln, Neb....The four regional winners will meet at the Final Four, to be held at KeyArena at Seattle Center in Seattle, Wash., Dec. 19 and 21...Texas is the No. 1 seed and also is the defending national champion...For complete tournament bracket and information, visit the NCAA official Website at www.NCAAsports.com.

Texas A&M Coach Laurie Corbelli quotes:

(On playing a familiar team at a familiar place)

“It’s a huge relief that we not only got in but we don’t have to travel far. We are familiar with all the teams, and I think it’s exactly what we expected. We are already kind of prepared for what lies ahead in the next few days.

“Austin is only a 100 miles down the road, and it will be a convergence between San Antonio and College Station. It would be a thrill to have a large Aggie contingent there to support us and help us to advance. It can be similar to a home match if we turn it into that, if we can get enough Aggies there, get the band there, get the Yell Leaders there, whoever can come and turn it into a huge advantage for us. That would be really cool and is very much deserved by these girls.”

(On how the team is playing)

“We are playing our best volleyball, and we have great momentum right now. We have a lot of confidence. Our ball handlers are seniors, and they are ready to do some damage. Our attackers are young and feisty and ready to go for it, so I think we are in a really good place at a good time.”

(On facing UTSA)

“UTSA is playing some great volleyball. They have an outside hitter (McKenzie Adams) who leads the nation in kills per set and is a pretty phenomenal attacker, no doubt. They have a great defense. They are in the top 10 in the country in digs per set, and it certainly is going to be a competitive, very difficult match for both teams. I know getting past UTSA is going to be hard. It’s a great challenge.”

(On leading A&M to 17 NCAA appearances in her 21 seasons at Texas A&M)

“I like to think it speaks to consistency and demonstrates the passion that John (Corbelli, associate head coach) and I have for the sport of volleyball and for Texas A&M and our program. It’s been our lives for many, many years, and we’ve wanted to run it the right way and win a lot. Those are our two main goals: win championships and do it with integrity. I feel like we’ve accomplished most of that. Certainly there are matches I’d like to have back. It is never easy, and losing is difficult, but we’ve really found ways to come back from struggles, especially this season when we went through an October that was very difficult. I’d like to think our experience of doing this kind of work helped the team get back to the win column and get confidence and improve their game. Just passion for volleyball and consistency is a word I like to use a lot. I really like players that can be consistent and coaches that can be consistent, and I hope that consistency is reflected in the program.”

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