Tigers stun A&M

To say the MU volleyball team has it going on would be an understatement. The undefeated Tigers won their first match at Texas A&M.

COLLEGE STATION, Texas—In a two hour, 20 minute, marathon of a volleyball match, the No. 10 Missouri women's team took down No. 15 Texas A&M, 3-1, in front of 2,455 Aggie fans. In front of one of the loudest crowds in America, Mizzou won their first match ever in College Station while the Tigers' Lindsey Hunter became Mizzou's all-time set assist leader. Three Tigers tallied double-doubles.

The Tigers (8-0, 2-0) defeated the Aggies (7-4, 0-2) by a line score of 29-31, 30-28, 30-24, and 30-25.

"I think we were very pleased by how girls kept persistent throughout the night," said Head Coach Wayne Kreklow. "A&M has a very tough volleyball team, and think our girls handled a tough crowd and the tough team well. In game four, the girls really had to earn that win. A&M battled to the end and we're very happy."

Junior Jessica Vander Kooi scored season-highs with 18 kills along with 17 digs to score her fourth double-double and her third double-double against a top-15 team. Senior Shen Danru added 12 kills and a season-high 20 digs. Sophomore Tatum Ailes set a new career-high with 24 digs. Abbie Booth added 16 digs and three service aces. And, junior Nicole Wilson tallied eight total blocks.

In addition, Lindsey Hunter became Missouri's all-time assist record holder on the night as well, tallying 56 total assists, grabbing 44 by the end of game three to surpass Heather Gerber.

The Tigers succumbed to their first game loss of the year, falling 31-29 to start the match. The Tigers opened the game with an Abbie Booth ace. The Tigers would lead 2-1, but a 7-2 Aggie run made the score 8-4. A&M would continue to widen the lead to 17-11, before Mizzou went on a 6-2 run, spurred by Jessica Vander Kooi, who grabbed two kills and an ace in the period to make the score 19-17 and cut the lead. The teams traded several kills and eventually the score was in favor of A&M 26-23. After a Tiger timeout, The Tigers went on a 5-1 run to lead 28-27 as a result of five kills. Mizzou held a 29-28 lead after a Na Yang kill, but the Aggies would score the next three points to capture the first game.

Game one was a battle of attrition. The teams combined for 112 attacks, 52 digs, and 39 kills, resulting in super-long rallies, a hard hitting game for sure. The difference was the Aggies ability to keep the ball under control, as A&M committed only two hitting errors while Mizzou made seven. Nicole Wilson went an errorless 6-for-9 in the Tiger cause in the opening frame. A&M hit .321 in the opening frame – the Tigers hit .220.

Another thriller in game two followed. A&M was up 13-8 after two consecutive service aces. Then, Booth continued to give the Tigers a favorable serve, as the Tigers scored six-consecutive points with Abbie behind the line. In the run, Booth scored her second and third ace of the game and Wilson was part of three blocks to give the Tigers a 14-13 lead. The Tigers went on a 5-0 run after trailing 18-17. Mizzou still lead at 27-23 following a Vander Kooi ace, but the Aggies responded with a 3-0 run to cut the lead to one. With the Tigers up 29-28, A&M committed a ball-handling error to give the Tigers game two.

The Tigers zoomed to a fast start in game three, going up 9-3 before an A&M timeout. Over the run, Vander Kooi and Shen Danru recorded three kills apiece and Vander Kooi added another ace. Before another A&M timeout, the Tigers went on an additional 9-4 run to go up 18-8. An Aggie 5-1 run before a Tiger timeout closed the gap to 19-13. The Aggies would try to close the gap once down 25-17, by going on an 8-4 run, but another ball-handling error ended the stanza in favor of the Tigers to give Mizzou the 2-1 match-lead. In the third-game alone Danru and Ailes had seven digs and Booth grabbed six.

Frame four would best be described as a game of tug-of-war between the two top-15 teams. No team gained a real advantage until the score tied at 20. With Tatum Ailes at serve, the Tigers scored five straight points, capped by an Ailes ace and a Yang kill. A&M came back with three straight of their own to make the score 25-23. The Tigers scored on five-of-the-seven remaining points to carry the match-win 3-1.

The Tigers did however end their streak of consecutive-games won at 21 with the game one loss. The Tigers came close to the 24 school-record consecutive-game wins.

The road trip continues Wednesday, as the Tigers will travel to Boulder, Colo., to take on Colorado. The match is scheduled to start at 8:00 p.m., central. The Tigers' next match at home is set for Saturday, September 24, when Mizzou will take on No. 22 Kansas State.

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