Aggie volleyball heads to Sweet 16

After a dominating performance against Wisconsin in Round Two of the NCAA Championship tournament, confidence and enthusiasm on the Aggie volleyball team are at an all-time high.

Record: 23-9
Rank: #24 (AVCA); #16 seed in NCAA tournament
Last Action: W - 30-22, 30-24, 30-18 vs. Wisconsin (Round 2, NCAA Championships)
Up Next: at Lincoln, NE vs. winner of (#1) USC/Loyola Marymount
When: Friday, December 12, Time TBA

Of Note: Texas A&M is making its 11th consecutive appearance in the NCAA tournament and its fourth Sweet 16 appearance in Head Coach Laurie Corbelli's 11 years in Aggieland.

Who's Hot: Melissa Munsch and Beth Skypala. Both players led the Aggies with 11 kills each against Wisconsin. Munsch also had four blocks to lead A&M to an 8-4.5 block advantage.


Texas A&M Post-match Quotes:

Corbelli: "Obviously we're pretty excited, not only because of the victory, but because our performance has kind of peaked-out tonight. Every aspect of the game was clicking for us. We had players that came so solidly prepared to compete at their highest level, each one of them. And when they all put that together--we've talked all season about bringing at least your average to your match--every time you play. Bring that--what you have to offer and build on it."

Coach, you mentioned that in looking at the stats, things were very well spread-out tonight. You had a lot of support from a lot of different players.

"Exactly. In switching from the 6-2 to the 5-1occasionally offers a little bit more rhythm, an opportunity for hitters to get into rhythm with one setter. I've known all along that that can be important; but at the same time we've had a lot of success with our 6-2. But I think the distribution helped a lot. We were really working hard to get our middle established really quickly, even when we're not in great position. Because we tend to sometimes just want to run the middle when we've got a great dig, right at the target, and it's all set up for us. We've been getting a little out of our comfort zone with the middle, and it's been helpful with our speed, and we sped up the outside sets to Laura and Beth as well as getting Carol going as early as we can in the match, and so I think that puts a lot of pressure on the defense from antenna to antenna having to really figure out which attacker's going to come at them."

Beth [Skypala], in the first game you guys...you had a real long rally. It seemed like from there you guys just took over the game. Did y'all kind of sense there, did that kind of give you a little boost?

"I think so. It was that extra spark. Like whenever you battle for so long, then you take charge and win that rally. We just felt that whole team effort--everyone in that whole play--everyone did so well. And then just ended the rally, and that definitely gave us that extra spark."

Laura [Jones], at the end of the first game you turned it on a little bit there, you had a block, it seemed like from there you kind of got pumped up after that at the end of the first game. Did that kind of give you a little extra incentive?

"Oh definitely. Our team talked about celebrating as a team, for no matter who got the point at all times, whether you're on the bench or on the court. Stepping up the intensity as far as celebrating after points really helped my game out a lot."

Coach, could you talk about y'all's blocking. It seemed like that was a big part of the game tonight.

"Yeah. We scouted them pretty hard. I know they scouted us as well. But we've really been focusing on our blocking. Not only getting together with four hands over at the same time, but just the timing and the discipline that it takes to have a well-timed block. No matter how big it is, it needs to be really well-timed. And I think once we start a match with a good block, it may drift away for a little while, but we get it back faster. So we really wanted to start off blocking strong. We really focused on our left side blocking. We knew they would come at us with a lot of attacks from behind their setter. They have a really strong right side in number four, and they had the attack back there, so we really got our left sidesfocused on the block. And I think when they started slowing down some balls, and didn't let it shake them when the hitters got through their block, it gave confidence to the entire front line in terms of the block all across the net."

Beth, after y'all got the second game under your belt, did y'all talk about coming out and not letting them get back in the match ?

"Yeah, we focused on keeping our intensity. We've been talking about throwing the first punch, like going out there and just attacking them right off the bat and just keeping the teamness that we have."

I'm sure you know what's coming the next round...

[Laughs, Corbelli] "That's right." [Laughs]

I mean, we don't know yet, because they don't play until later...

Corbelli: "Right,"

But more than likely it'll probably be Southern Cal again,

"Yeah."

They swept y'all earlier in the year. Can you talk about going up against them again?

"Love it. You know, I feel like it's the kind of match that I love to coach, and our players love to play. Because it's a great team, and we're familiar with them. And they think they're familiar with us. I think we've improved a ton this season. We were a very different team back in August. If the players can come with the confidence and the belief that we can play great volleyball against a great team, who knows what the outcome will be? We're going to go for it. What a great story it could be for the Aggies. And we have to believe that you can't think that anything's impossible. I've seen it happen before. So we're just going to go for it. We're really comfortable, actually, in Lincoln Coliseum. We play there a lot, and it's a lot like G. Rollie, in terms of the set-up and the surroundings, so we're excited. You know, we're ready to go for it with nothing to lose. So we'll see what happens.

Do you look forward to maybe having a crowd cheer for you guys this time instead of cheering against you?

"That's a good thought. A Big 12 crowd. Lincoln fans are incredibly supportive of their conference, not only their home team. They cheer great volleyball, and I think that they will root for the Aggies. Honestly. So yeah, I think we can count on some of that as well"

How's that for y'all's players, already having seen USC this year? Y'all played a real strong year. What does that mean to y'all?

Skypala: "Like you said, we do know what to expect. We know that they're going to be strong. We also know that nobody is unbeatable. A lot of the girl's we've played against in high school, like in club. So we're just going to do our best to have our gameplan set-up to be better than their's."


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