A&M Defeats No. 14 ISU, 3-1, in Final Big 12 Match
It marked the highest ranked win of the season for the Aggies, who improve to 22-7 overall and finish third in the Big 12 with an 11-5 record.
ISU (22-5, 13-3 Big 12), ranked second in the Ratings Power Index, had its five-match winning streak snapped and falls to A&M for the first time in six meetings. In addition, the Cyclones, who finish second in the Big 12 standings, suffer only their second home loss of the season.
Alisia Kastmo was the only player to reach double figures in kills with 12, but the Aggies tied their season high in blocks with 11, with Lindsey Miller leading the way with six, including a career-high three solo blocks. Megan Pendergast led in digs with 19, and Kelsey Black and Sarah Grace added 12 and 11 digs, respectively. Setter Allie Sawatzky finished with 33 assists.
ISU, which was led by Hannah Willms' 17 kills, posted 56 kills to A&M's 44 and outhit the Aggies, .209 to .190. The Cyclones also led in digs, 79-68.
A&M was totally out of sync and the Cyclones took advantage of nearly every opportunity in the opening set. ISU, which outhit A&M, .333 to .000, used a 9-1 run to break away from a 2-2 tie and continued to pull away. The Cyclones were leading 20-6 before A&M scored consecutive points for the only time in the set following an ISU attack error and a kill by Chelsea Ringel. ISU scored the next two points to take a 23-9, but a service error ended the run. Debbie Stadick then had consecutive kills to clinch the set for the Cyclones and hold the Aggies to a season-low 10 points.
There were 11 ties and four lead changes in a much more competitive second set. The Aggies scored the first four points of the set with Hendrickson getting a kill to start off the set and also being involved in two blocks that sandwiched an ace by Ringel. The Aggies kept a four-point lead at 8-4 before ISU reeled off four consecutive points to tie the score for the first time.
The teams traded points until ISU used a three-point run to take its first lead at 12-10. The Cyclones had a 17-15 lead when three ISU attack errors - two the result of A&M blocks - gave the Aggies an 18-17 lead. ISU countered with back-to-back points to gain the lead, 19-18. The teams then traded points until, with ISU leading 21-20, Black got a kill out of the back row to spark a 3-0 run for A&M. ISU, which outhit A&M, .125 to .108 in the frame, got a kill following a timeout to get within 23-22, but a service error and an attack error gave the Aggies the 25-22 win.
ISU took a 7-4 lead in the third set before A&M went on a 10-1 run. ISU would get within 15-12 but was unable to get closer than three points for the remainder of the set. A&M, which outhit the Cyclones, .278 to .205, in the set, kept a three-point lead at 22-19 before an ISU service error and an Elise Hendrickson kill on a Cyclone overpass put the Aggies at set point. ISU got a kill before Kastmo put down the set-winning kill.
A&M reeled off three straight points to take a 4-1 lead in the fourth set and kept the lead for the remainder of the stanza. The Aggies, who outhit ISU, .389 to .186 in the frame, used a 5-0 run to build their biggest lead at 15-6. The Cyclones would only get as close as seven points, the last coming at 23-16. Kastmo then got a kill to put the Aggies at match point, and Miller sealed the victory and gave A&M its first win in Ames since 2005 with a kill of an ISU overpass.
A&M now awaits the announcement of the 64-team NCAA Championship bracket. The Selection Show airs Sunday at 5 p.m. on ESPNU. First- and second-round matches will be played Dec. 1-4 at participating institutions. Regional sites are Gainesville, Fla., Honolulu, Hawaii, Lexington, Ken., and Minneapolis, Minn., with matches played Dec. 9-10. The Final Four will be played at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Dec. 15 and 17.
A&M is expecting to make its 15 NCAA tournament appearance under 19-year head coach Laurie Corbelli and its 19th appearance in the history of the program.
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