The University of Tennessee Volunteers bested the Texas A&M volleyball team in the Aggies’ first road Southeastern Conference match of the season (26-24, 15-25, 25-23, 20-25, 19-17) at the Thompson-Boling Arena in Knoxville on Sunday.
Senior outside hitter Hollann Hans highlighted the day as she led the match with 24 kills and 16 digs for her 27th double-double of her career. Junior setter Camille Conner was just short of a triple-double after tallying two service aces, nine kills, four blocks, nine digs and 46 assists.
Through the first set, the Aggies called a timeout after falling behind 9-3 and forced a 7-0 run after play resumed. At 21-16, A&M’s largest lead of the set, three consecutive attack errors allowed the Volunteers to find rhythm on their side of the net for back-to-back kills. Tennessee pushed to end and win the set with two more kills from outside hitter Raquel Perinar.
A&M started out the second set with a 12-4 lead and never looked back. The Volunteers were only able to get within five points of the Aggies throughout the rest of the set. Three consecutive kills from the Aggies put them in reach of the game point, and two errors at the end of the set from Tennessee allowed A&M the 25-15 set win.
With three lead changes to open the third set, a kill from Hans put the Aggies level with the Volunteers at 10 before three consecutive kills allowed Tennessee to take the lead. While both sides committed multiple attack and service errors through the end of the set, Tennessee was still able to out-hit A&M 17-10. After the Aggies pushed for three straight points as the Volunteers were at game point, Tennessee outside hitter Lily Felts closed the 25-23 set with a kill.
The Aggies started out with another early lead in the fourth set as multiple kills from Hans and freshman outside hitter Lauren Davis put them at 12-6. As the Volunteers were only able to get within four points, A&M rode an offensive surge through the set that was closed by a Tennessee service error, forcing a fifth and deciding set.
The first 19 points of the fifth set were split as neither team could claim more than a one-point lead before a kill from Conner put the score at 12-10. Three consecutive Tennessee kills and an attack error by Hans leveled both teams at 13. The next eight points were split, but an attack error by Davis put the Volunteers at an 18-17 match point. A kill from outside hitter Tessa Grubbs closed the match and earned the win for Tennessee.
A&M head coach Laura Kuhn said the team has to be able to finish and put close games away when playing on the road, especially in conference play.
“We had our opportunities,” Kuhn told 12thman.com. “Feeling like you're in control of the match and being in control of the match are two different things and that's one thing we have to learn."
The Aggies next head to Fayetteville, Arkansas to face the Razorbacks on Friday at 7 p.m. at the Barnhill Arena.