KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Texas A&M volleyball (10-4, 3-1 SEC) pulled off an upset of nationally ranked Tennessee (12-3, 4-1 SEC) on Sunday afternoon, leading the volunteers in an exciting five-set (24-26, 25-23, 17-25, 25-21, 17-15) action.
The win marked the fourth top-25 win under Laura “Bird” Kuhn and the first of the season for the Aggies. Passer Camille Conner was a shy finish of a triple-double, finishing with nine finishs on.421 hits, 45 assists and 14 digs. Morgan Christon compiled a game-high 21 disposals, while Lauren Davis (16) and Destiny Cox (15) also recorded double-digit figures. Macy Carrabine led the Aggies’ defensive efforts with 23 digs.
Lauren Davis’ first finish of the game in a 3-0 run gave A&M a 6-5 advantage. The Lady Vols responded with four straight points to move in front, before taking a 17-10 lead. Christon’s second slaying at the end of a long rally launched A&M’s offense, as the Aggies went on a 4-0 run, highlighted by two Destiny Cox slayings. Solo work through the middle by Mallory Talbert helped the Maroon & White take Tennessee’s lead, leveling the set at 21 points overall. Another Talbert block ended the set at 24, before the Lady Vols went on for the 26-24 victory.
Tennessee took the lead early in the second period, before a Camille Conner shot brought the Aggies within reach, falling behind 7-5. The Lady Vols took their biggest lead of the set, but Davis and Talbert pieced together a 7-1 run on their own to even the set at 18 points. Talbert’s second ace dropped down the back line forced the Lady Vols to use a timeout with the set deadlocked at 21. The run continued and was highlighted by a block from Cox and Madison Bowser on the bench to push A&M in front, before a Tennessee service error gave the Aggies the second set, 25-23.
Conner got in on the scoring action in the third, recording back-to-back disposals, despite the Aggies trailing by two. The Lady Vols fended off the threat by jumping in front, 12-7, before Christon reached his 11th double-digit performance of the season in a four-point run to force a timeout at Tennessee. The Lady Vols used a 5-0 run to take the lead after in the third, winning 25-17.
After a slow start in the fourth, two disposals by Conner helped the Aggies action their way to even the frame at seven, before another disposal by the fifth-year passer pushed A&M forward. A big swing outside Cox gave the Maroon & White a one-point advantage, sitting at a 19-18 advantage, before a block from the junior and Bowser increased their lead. A pair of Christon finishs sealed the fourth set for the Aggies, 25-21, to force a decisive fifth set.
A successful challenge by Kuhn reversed a call in favor of the Aggies early on, as each team traded points. Conner’s ninth finish pushed A&M ahead, 6-5, while a block and finish by Davis helped the visitors maintain a three-point advantage at the media break. Davis and Christon continued to score on the outside after in the set for the Maroon & White, as a Davis finish sealed the set, 17-15.
Texas A&M will return to Reed Arena next week for a two-game series with Georgia on Oct. 7-8. Thursday’s game is highlighted by the Aggies’ annual Dig Pink game. On Friday, fans with a ticket to Saturday’s football game against Alabama receive free admission to the volleyball game by showing their ticket at the door. In addition, the first 500 fans will receive a Reedling Brothers game day hat and a mini 12th Man centennial statue.
PIECES OF BIRDS
Laura”Bird” Kuhn, Texas A&M head coach
About the team’s action…
“We talk about the answer all the time and we rectified those first two sets to get ourselves back in position. The fact that the team is starting to believe in it and win their own points has totally reversed the momentum. I am proud of their action and their finish to deserve this victory.”
About Camille Conner’s ability to manage the field… “Camille (Conner) is excellent at managing the pitch and making an impact in critical moments. His two blocks in the fifth were huge. She wants it with the way she competes, but she also keeps our team stable.”
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