The Texas A&M volleyball team will face Arkansas for the second time this season on Friday at Reed Arena.
October’s matchup between the two teams ended in a sweep for the Aggies, who are riding a five-game win streak after wins over No. 15 Kentucky and No. 24 Missouri, which moved them to a No. 9 ranking.
A&M coach Laura “Bird” Kuhn said she has not ignored the fact that the Aggies have made the breakthrough into the AVCA rankings at No. 25 and are now ranked for the first time since the 2016 season.
“Yeah, it’s exciting, and I do care,” Kuhn said. “That is very exciting. … They’ve earned it, they deserve it. But it’s still back to the drawing board, you have to grind and we need to keep doing what we’re doing to get us there. It’s about doing your job and executing.”
Kuhn said the Aggies have to focus on their own game in order to stay successful through the second half of the season in the heat of conference play.
“It’s all about your response,” Kuhn said. “No matter who we’re playing or who the opponent is, you want to see that response from your team as a whole. It shouldn't matter who's on the other side of the net, it’s about execution on our side. And that’s what we talk about on a daily basis.”
Senior outside hitter Hollann Hans headlined the Aggie offense against Missouri as she had her 25th career match with 20 or more kills, notching 21 on Sunday, along with two service aces and eight blocks. Hans also leads the Aggies in overall points, while also topping the conference in kills and service aces.
On the defensive side, sophomore defensive specialist Allison Fields notched a season-high 19 digs against the Tigers, with a service ace and two assists to go along with it.
While the Razorbacks had only one shot blocked in their last game against Kentucky, the Aggies will try for an effective front at the net with junior middle blocker Makena Patterson, who is currently fourth in the SEC in total blocks.
“We really want to see a balanced offense,” Kuhn said. “I want to see the middles have a really solid match. … I would love to see all of them firing on all cylinders because that’s the true balance that you want to see.”
Kuhn said the team has found its stride at this point of the year, when they need it the most and as they approach the end of the season.
“Obviously the energy has been at a high level and they always are,” Kuhn said. “You want that, especially at this time of the season. So it’s huge. But it’s just fun to see them really embracing it and just enjoying it together. They’re a special group so they’ve earned it.”
First serve is set for 6:30 p.m. on Friday, and the game will be broadcast on SEC Network+.