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A&M seizes control

Wins over Alabama and Arkansas net Aggies first place in SEC West

Published: Sunday, November 4, 2012

Updated: Monday, November 5, 2012 00:11

Volleyball Arkansas photo

Aaron Cranford - THE BATTALION

Senior Tori Mellinger serves against Alabama.

On Sunday afternoon after the match against Arkansas, the tune “Takin' Care of Business” by BTO blared throughout Reed Arena. The A&M volleyball took care of business with a weekend sweep of Alabama and Arkansas. A&M (19-5, 11-4) opened a two game lead for first place ahead of the Razorbacks.

"It was a really good win today," senior psychology major and libero Megan Pendergast said. "We got better as a team and that is what we are going to focus on."

Everything started on Friday night as the Aggies took on the Alabama Crimson Tide. The Aggies used key kills from senior outside hitter and team captain Tori Mellinger as the Aggies took the first set 25-17. The Aggies opened the set with an 8-8 tie but used an 8-2 run to give themselves breathing room against a reeling Alabama squad.

The second set saw the Aggies in a tight contest, leading 22-20 before freshman outside hitter Sierra Patrick ended the match with a powerful kill.

For the final set, the Aggies found themselves behind 4-0 but, behind Patrick, the Aggies began to click offensively, taking a 10-9 lead. The Aggies led 17-12 but the Crimson Tide would crawl back to within two at 23-21 before junior Allie Sawatzky took over and won the match with a clutch point that gave the Aggies the 3-0 victory.

After the Razorbacks lost to Auburn Friday night, the Aggies sat alone in first but the stage was set for a battle with Arkansas on Sunday. A&M seemed flat to begin the match and head coach Laurie Corbelli was vocal in trying to ignite a spark for an Aggie team that could not afford a letdown.

"To be perfectly honest, sometimes you go with your gut that the team needs a little bit more from you," Corbelli said.

After dropping the first set 25-23, the Aggies went on a 5-0 run behind the emergence of Patrick's play. Then it was Miller Time in Reed Arena as senior middle blocker Lindsey Miller had three key kills to give the Aggies a 9-5 lead in the second set. A&M went on to take the second set 25-19.

In sets three and four, the Aggies used key defensive plays from Pendergast, who at one point ran off the court to save a rally that resulted in an Aggie point.

"I am just doing everything I can to keep the ball from hitting the floor," Pendergast said. "I know that if I put the ball in a good spot where my team can run the offense, they'll put it away."

The Aggies would put away the Razorbacks with a kill from Miller, who had 12 kills on the day and gave A&M the 3-1 win.

Melllinger and senior opposite Alisia Kastmo each had double-doubles in kills and digs while Pendergast had a game-high 32 digs.

"We keep getting better and better everyday," Pendergast said. "Other teams are not going to want to see us because we are going to be a thorn on the sides of some of the big programs."

The Aggies now travel to Auburn and Geogia this Friday and Sunday before returning home for their final regular season home game against Missouri.

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