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Photo by Jamie Maury, TexAgs
Texas A&M Volleyball

No. 13 Aggies advance to program's first Sweet Sixteen in ten years

December 6, 2019

Texas A&M Volleyball (23-7) punched their ticket to the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA Volleyball Tournament with a thrilling 3-1 win over the Rice Owls (27-4). In a roller-coaster match, the Aggies showcased their resilience by contesting long rallies, earning nearly every hard-fought point. The first two sets each consisted of extra points and ended vastly different than they had started. The Aggies shifted the momentum for the rest of the match when they found themselves down 18-23 in a nail-biting set two, forcing extras and ultimately winning the set. In a team effort, several players had stellar performances, including Hollann Hans, Lauren Davis and Mallory Talbert, who each recorded kills in the double figures. Hans earned a double-double with 28 kills and 17 digs and was a key leader in the Texas A&M victory.

Set One: Rice 28-26

Set one started far differently than it ended. Everything was going right for the Aggies early; Hans slammed down a kill off a long rally to kick off a 5-0 run with Makena Patterson on the service line. Talbert gave the Aggies an 8-2 lead with a kill and a block. Hans served an untouched, well-located ace along the baseline, and shortly after, an A&M challenge was overturned to put the Aggies up 15-4, a lead that, in hindsight, might have been too comfortable.

Jamie Maury, TexAgs
Senior outside hitter Hollann Hans made sure the Aggies would not be eliminated on their home court, leading the way with a match-high 28 kills.

The Owls began to chip away at what appeared to be a runaway set, going on uncontested runs to return into striking distance by the 20-point mark. The Aggies called a timeout to regroup after finding their lead erased, up only 21-20. Davis had a kill coming out of the timeout, and soon after a Hans kill, the Aggies were at set point, 24-22. After a couple of errors, the score was tied at 24, and it was the Aggies’ turn to try to stay alive. Hans retied the score with a kill at 25 after the Owls were at set point, but after a tie at 26, Rice took two consecutive points to come back and win set one. The Texas A&M offense was led by Hans with six kills.

Set Two: Texas A&M 32-30

The Aggies started off set two with a 3-0 run, but the score remained much closer than set one. Tied at 8, Davis tipped the ball into open court, and Rush followed the point with a kill. Several points later, Hans was on the service line, dropping back-to-back aces to put the Aggies up 17-16. Rice led 20-16 at the 20-point mark, forcing an A&M timeout. Two lost points later, the Aggies used their final timeout in an attempt to regroup. That’s when the rally began.

Hans put down a kill to make it 23-19 in favor of Rice. Davis also threatened with a kill, forcing Rice to take a timeout, but she slammed down another when play resumed. The Aggies were within one, with Rice leading 23-22 and calling a timeout soon after. Yet again, Davis responded with a kill. The Owls’ set point was erased, tied at 24 on an Aggie block, followed with another block to put the Aggies at set point, 25-24. Texas A&M was close to ending it there, as a Rice kill landed out of bounds, but it was tipped at the net by the Aggies. With nothing to lose, the Aggies challenged the play, but the call was confirmed. The set continued. Hans secured points 26, 27, 28 and 29 with kills to keep the Aggies alive in set two. Tied at 30, Hans had another kill to make the final set point, the Aggies taking set two with an incredible comeback win while reclaiming the momentum. Hans had twelve kills in the set, followed by Davis with six, each instrumental in the comeback.

Set Three: Texas A&M 25-20

Jamie Maury, TexAgs
After splitting the first two sets, #13 Texas A&M took all of the momentum from Rice, rolling to a 3-1 victory.

The Aggies started out hot in set three. An early ace from Hans put the Aggies up 4-2, and they maintained control through the midway points of the set. Rush recorded a kill, and next point, Hans slammed a monster kill to give the Aggies an 11-5 lead and sent Reed Arena into an uproar. Rice called timeout in attempt to contest the A&M momentum. The Owls were successful in answering, going on a 7-1 run with two A&M timeouts in between. Now tied at 12, a kill by Hans put an end to the Rice run, and the Aggies were able to reclaim control.

At 19-15, the Owls began to chip away. Texas A&M was only up two at the 20-point mark, but the Aggies ensured there would be no extra points in their set three win. Hans knocked down a kill to make the score 21-19, then the Aggies went on a 3-0 run to make it set point. The Owls only put up one more point in the set before the Aggies took set three, 25-20, and reclaimed the match lead, 2-1.

Set Four: Texas A&M 25-15

The Texas A&M momentum carried into set four, and the Aggies maintained control of the entire set. A block by Patterson and Rush into the face of a Rice defender gave the Aggies an early lead, and they ran with it through the set. Sabrina Sustala served an ace to put the Aggies on top 15-8, and Rice called a timeout the next point. Everything continued to go right for the Aggies, including winning a tip challenge. Soon enough, the Aggies were at set point with a kill by Patterson, and Davis ended the game with a kill to give Texas A&M a 25-15 set four win. The offense improved to a game-best .333 hitting clip; a team effort en route to the Aggies’ advancement to the Sweet 16.


“The things going wrong in the first set were in our control, so we brought it together and carried it through the rest of the match,” said outside hitter Hollann Hans. “There was never a doubt in our minds that we could [win]. We know our capability, and we came together.

“This was a complete team win. It’s the best feeling in the world. It [could be] the last time in Reed Arena with these amazing fans.”
- Senior outside hitter Hollann Hans

“This was a complete team win. It’s the best feeling in the world. It [could be] the last time in Reed Arena with these amazing fans. I’m so thankful, but we have a lot of work to do, so I’m excited to move forward.”

“It was high pressure and really exciting, but we [got] back to our baseline and played our game,” said Mallory Talbert. “After the second set, it was 0-0. That was like a deep breath for everyone. We talked about leaning on your teammates in big moments. We’re all here for each other.”

“That was probably one of the best team wins and grind matches I’ve been a part of,” said head coach Laura “Bird” Kuhn. “That’s what puts teams away… when you see [our] team just grinding and attacking and battling that way. We were proud of them last night, but to be in a match like this and finish the fourth set the way they did was huge for us moving onto the next round.”

Up Next: Advancing to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2009, the Aggies await the winner of the UCLA vs. No. 4 Wisconsin matchup, which will take place tomorrow at 6:00 p.m. 

Discussion from...

No. 13 Aggies advance to program's first Sweet Sixteen in ten years

10,405 Views | 8 Replies | Last: 1 yr ago by ABATTBQ87
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Last light was my first to see ANY volleyball match in person, let alone the lady Ags. The wife and I drove up from Houston, leaving work early.

Both teams were excellent. Tickets were cheap ($22 for 2 ordered online morning of), no charge for parking, lots of energy from the fans. It was a great experience, except Reed's lower bowl upper isn't even set up for use was maybe, MAYBE, half full.

We didn't know what we were missing and will definitely make future games. No doubt Coach Kuhn is building something special that deserves support and more butts in the seats. And this was the NCAA tournament on a Friday evening. The experience would have been way better with a packed house.

Surely, there are some ways to give incentives for students to come out. Maybe 5 bonus points on a final exam. Something. These ladies deserve it.
BigJim49 AustinNowDallas
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Agreed. The problem is that almost nowhere does volleyball draw like basketball. Most arenas drape off sections to make it feel smaller.

TCU actually built a separate, much smaller, arena just for volleyball and so with the same crowd its packed and has a fun atmosphere.
Wicked Good Ag
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A volleyball only facility is on the master plan but who knows if it will come to happen
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Wicked Good Ag said:

A volleyball only facility is on the master plan but who knows if it will come to happen

This season probably helps.
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They could build the volleyball only facility on the old band drill field with a capacity of 2,500.

Could be used for volleyball and corps sporting events
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