Nov. 26, 2010

COLLEGE STATION, Texas - Texas A&M (13-16, 7-12 Big 12) concludes the regular season by playing host to No. 5 Nebraska (26-2, 18-1 Big 12) Saturday at Reed Arena. First serve is slated for 4 p.m.

The match marks the last time A&M and Nebraska meet as members of the Big 12 Conference, as the Cornhuskers depart for the Big Ten Conference next season.

The match also has outright Big 12 title implications on the line for Nebraska, which has already clinched at least a share of the title. The Aggies, who upset the Huskers in their last visit to Reed Arena, could spoil an outright title with a victory. A&M rival Texas will be pulling for the Aggies, as the Longhorns would grab a share of the title, as well as the NCAA automatic bid, with an A&M win against Nebraska and a Longhorn victory at No. 16 Iowa State.

It will be "ResLife Night" at the Nebraska match, and A&M students who show their dorm key will be admitted free. In addition, the dorm with the most attendees will win a free pizza dinner.

Free live audio, video and stats of the match will be available at AggieAthletics.com.

The Aggies (13-16, 7-12 Big 12), who are closing out the season with their toughest three-match stretch of the year, are coming off back-to-back losses against No. 16 Iowa State and No. 8 Texas. A&M fell to Texas, 26-24, 25-19, 25-22, Wednesday at Gregory Gym in Austin.

Nebraska extended its winning streak to seven and posted its seventh consecutive sweep with a 25-21, 25-19, 25-13 victory against Baylor on Wednesday in Lincoln to finish the home portion of the regular season undefeated at 13-0.

A&M QUICK HITS:
• Sophomore libero Tori Mellinger needs eight digs to give her 462 this season and move her into fifth in the A&M season records. Eleven digs will boost her into fourth place. Mellinger has posted double figures in digs in a team-leading 24 matches -- including eight matches in which she has tallied 20 or more digs -- and she has led or tied for team-high honors in digs in 18 matches.

• Junior outside hitter Kelsey Black has led or tied for the team lead in kills in all 29 matches this season and has led or tied for the team lead in points in all but one match.

• Black has scored 533 points, the most points in a season since rally scoring went to the 25-point cap and ranking fourth in the A&M all-time rally-scoring season records. She needs only 22 points to move into third place in the all-time rally scoring records, surpassing Laura Jones, who tallied 554.5 points in 2004.

• Black's 1,251 attack attempts is the most since rally scoring began in 2001 and ranks sixth in the A&M all-time single-season records. Eight more swings will move her into fifth, and 25 attempts will move her into fourth place in the all-time records.

• Freshman setter Allie Sawatzky was named the Big 12 Rookie of the Week on Monday, the third time the honor has been bestowed on the 6-2 lefty from Canada.

• Sophomore middle blocker Lindsey Miller has totaled 44 blocks in the last seven matches, averaging 1.57 blocks per set during that span. She is sixth in the Big 12 with a 1.19 block average in conference matches only.

• A&M is 11-0 this season when winning the first set and 10-2 when winning the third set. Conversely, A&M is 2-16 when losing the first set, and 3-14 when dropping the third set.

• A&M has played nine five-set matches this season, tying the school record for most five-set matches in a single season set in 1988 and tied in 2005. The Aggies are 2-7 in five-set matches this season.

• A&M leads the Big 12 with 1.24 aces per set and ranks second for fewest aces allowed (0.76) per set in all matches.

• In conference matches only, A&M is fourth in the league for fewest kills allowed per set (12.45), fewest assists allowed (11.69) and fewest aces allowed (0.83) per set, and fifth for opponent hitting percentage (.191).

• Individually, Kelsey Black continues to lead the Big 12 in points (4.85) and aces (0.38) per set and is second in the league with 4.15 kills per set for the full season. Freshman setter Allie Sawatzky is seventh in the conference with 9.70 assists per set, and Tori Mellinger is eighth in the league with 4.13 digs per set for the full season. In addition, Lindsey Miller is seventh in the Big 12 with 1.11 blocks per set for the full season.

• In Big 12 matches only, Black is fourth with 4.71 points per set, fifth with 4.15 kills per set and sixth with 0.25 aces per set. Mellinger is ninth in digs with a 4.21 average, and Sawatzky is seventh in assists with 9.65 per set. In addition, Miller is sixth in the league with 1.19 blocks per set in conference play.

Allie Sawatzky, who has started every match for the Aggies this season, has tallied 50 or more assists in five matches, including 52 assists in the win against Oklahoma.

• Aggie libero Tori Mellinger recorded a career-high 34 digs against Missouri on Oct. 13, the most by an A&M player in the rally-point scoring era -- using both the 30- and 25-point scoring cap -- and ranks fifth all-time in the Aggie record books. It is the most digs by an Aggie since Erin Gibson had 35 against Colorado in 2000 and only four shy of tying the all-time record of 38 set by Yvonne Van Brandt in 1988 and tied by Stacy Sykora in 1998 using side-out scoring.

• A&M entered the week ranked 22nd in the nation in home attendance, averaging 1,494 per match in 12 home contests. The Aggies, who are 6-7 in home matches this season, had a season-high 3,305 in attendance to cheer them on to a 3-0 victory against No. 8 Texas on Sept. 16.

• Black's 85 attack attempts at Baylor on Nov. 6 is the second most swings by an A&M player in school history. Laura Jones (2003-05) holds the school record with 88 swings in a 3-2 victory over LSU on Sept. 10, 2005.

• Black has twice tied the A&M all-time record for aces in a match this season for both a three-set match and a five-set match, posting six apiece against Sam Houston State and Pacific. She has 42 aces in 2010, the most by an A&M player since Aggie All-American Melissa Munsch (2001-04) posted 42 aces in 2004. Black needs three more aces to break into the A&M top 10 for aces in a single season.

• Black, Miller, Sawatzky and Stephanie Minnerly have started every match this season, and Chelsea Ringel has started all but one and has played in all 110 sets. Mellinger has been the designated libero in every set.

Laurie Corbelli, the winningest coach in A&M volleyball history, is 376-185 in her 18th season at the helm of the Aggies and 476-291 in the 25th season of her head coaching career.

A&M-NEBRASKA SERIES RECORDS:
• Nebraska leads the all-time series, 31-7, and improved to 18-0 against the Aggies in matches played in Lincoln with a 25-21, 25-12, 27-25 win against A&M on Oct. 9, 2010.

• The Huskers are 26-3 against A&M in Big 12 matches only. A&M's three conference wins have all been in College Station.

• The Huskers are 12-3 in College Station. The last time the two teams met in College Station, A&M snapped a 19-match losing skid against Nebraska, defeating the sixth-ranked Huskers, 3-1 (28-26, 17-25, 25-19, 25-19) on Sept. 23, 2009 in an ESPNU nationally match from Reed Arena.

• A&M's other two Big 12 wins against the Huskers came in 1998 and 1999, both five-set victories at G. Rollie White Coliseum in College Station.

• Earlier this season, No. 3 Nebraska overcame five set points in the third frame to close out a 25-21, 25-12, 27-25 sweep against the Aggies on Oct. 9 at Nebraska Coliseum in Lincoln. NU outhit A&M .241 to .085 in the match and outblocked the Aggies, 13 to 8.5.

A&M led 17-14, in the back-and-forth first set when the Huskers caught fire, scoring three unanswered points to tie the score at 17-all. The Huskers tied the score three more times before taking the lead at 21-20 as Jordan Wilberger and Morgan Broekhuis blocked a Kelsey Black attack. A kill by Stephanie Minnerly tied the score for the final time, as NU followed with four consecutive points to close out the set. NU hit .194 but held A&M to a .025 hitting percentage and outblocked the Aggies, 7 to 3.5.

NU quickly took control of the second set, hitting .591 in the frame. A&M was within 11-7 when the Huskers scored five consecutive points to go up, 16-7. Leading 20-11, NU got two kills and A&M committed two errors to put the Huskers at set point. A service error gave A&M its final point before a NU block closed out the set.

There were 14 ties and seven lead changes in the third set. The score was knotted for the 12th time at 18-18 when A&M went on a 6-2 run, four of the Aggies' points resulting from NU attack errors. Up 24-20, A&M was on the verge of winning its first set at the Coliseum since 2003, but the Huskers rallied. A tip kill by Wilberger began a four-point run for NU, which tied the score at 24-24. The Huskers' next attack sailed long to put A&M at set point for the fifth time, but another kill by Wilberger tied the score at 25-25. An A&M attack into the net put the Huskers at match point, and A&M hit long on the next play to end the match.

Black led A&M with 12 kills but was held to a -.048 hitting percentage. She led all players with 14 digs. Minnerly tied her career high with six blocks.

A LOOK AT NEBRASKA:
• No. 5 Nebraska is 26-2 overall and is riding a seven-match winning streak after defeating Baylor, 25-21, 25-19, 25-13 Wednesday in Lincoln.

• The Huskers, who have not dropped a set in their last seven matches, are 10-1 in away matches.

• The Huskers' last loss was at No. 10 Texas on Oct. 27. NU's only other loss was against then-No. 13 and current No. 1 Florida, 3-2, in the second match of the season

• Junior middle blocker Brooke Delano entered the week ranked third in the nation with a .436 hitting percentage and sixth in blocks with 1.46 per set.

• Nebraska entered the week ranked third in the nation with 3.02 blocks, 15.14 kills and 14.15 assists per set.

• Nebraska is holding opponents to a .147 hitting percentage, the best in the Big 12. • The Huskers return three AVCA All-Americans -- senior setter Sydney Anderson, senior outside hitter Tara Mueller, and junior middle blocker Brooke Delano -- from last year's team that reached the NCAA regional finals. In addition to Anderson and Delano, senior libero Kayla Banwarth and sophomore outside hitter Hannah Werth were named to the 2010 Preseason All-Big 12 Team.

• Nebraska was picked to finish first in the Big 12, according to a preseason vote of the league coaches. The Huskers have won or tied for the Big 12 championship 12 of 15 seasons, including this year in which they have clinched at least a share of title.

• John Cook (San Diego `79) is 494-101 in his 18th season as a head coach, including 333-28 in his 11th season at the helm of the Huskers.