The Texas A&M volleyball team took a commanding 2-set lead over LSU Wednesday night at Reed Arena, but the Tigers came roaring back and rallied to take the final 3 sets and win the match, 20-25, 16-25, 25-19, 25-18, 15-10.
The 5-set win snapped LSU’s two-match losing streak and handed the Aggies their third straight loss.
In the first 2 sets, the Aggies’ attack percentages were significantly better than those of the Tigers’. Game 1 saw the Aggies finish with a 76% attack percentage, while LSU finished with 62%. The trend continued in Game 2, as the Aggies attack percentage was 68%, while LSU’s was an anemic 43%.
However, the momentum began to move towards the Tigers in the third set. With the score tied at 10-10, the Aggies committed three attack errors during a 4-point run by LSU. In the set, the Tigers outhit the Aggies a whopping .467 to .139.
A&M regrouped in the fourth set and had a precarious 13-12 lead, only to see LSU rally again. The Tigers went on an 11-3 run and went ahead 23-16. The Aggies cut it to 23-18, but weren’t able to get any closer and the Tigers took the set 25-18.
A&M started the fifth set with momentum, and took a 5-3 lead, behind the arm of sophomore outside hitter Sierra Patrick. Unfortunately, the Aggies then committed three attack errors that helped LSU take a 7-5 lead. Following 1 point scored by the Aggies, the Tigers went on a 5-0 run that helped them take a commanding 12-6 lead. LSU’s setter Malorie Pardo had the match-winning kill.
A&M Head Coach Laurie Corbelli addressed her team’s mental performance during the match:
A lot of times it is a case of trying too hard. Playing not to lose was a big factor in it as well. They were just paralyzed. That’s the best way to describe it in my mind. Looking at the score sheet, so what that we scored more points? It’s not that we can’t produce points. It is our mental game. We get a run of points and we think we are the No. 1 team in the nation. We get three points run on us, and we start to think we are the worst team in the nation. You can’t play a match like that. We just have a lot to learn. Every team responds differently and that is how this team is responding.
The statistics tell the tale of the game, and perhaps the mental state of the Aggies during the critical games following the break.
The Aggies committed only seven attack errors in the first two sets, but had seven in the final set, alone. LSU dominated the fifth set with 8 kills and no errors—outhitting the Aggies .400 to .125 in the deciding set. LSU outhit A&M .237 to .209 for the match and outblocked the Aggies 11.0 to 8.5.
Individually, Patrick led A&M with 15 kills and 17 digs, and senior setter Allie Sawatzky finished within one dig of notching her fifth triple-double of the year with 10 kills, 48 assists and 9 digs.
Briana Holman had 18 kills to lead the Tigers, who saw four of their players finish with double-digit kills. Pardo tallied 46 assists and 10 digs on the night for the Tigers
LSU is now 11-3 overall and 1-1 in Southeastern Conference Play. The Aggies drop to 9-6 overall and 1-3 in the SEC..
The Aggies will look to rebound on Friday against Mississippi State. First serve is set for 6 p.m. at Reed Arena.