On a Friday night otherwise devoid of Mizzou athletics (that basketball game had to be a group hallucination, right? Right?), the Tigers (16-9, 8-6) took to the Hearnes Center court to attempt a season sweep of Texas A&M (15-9, 7-7). That’s exactly what Dawn Sullivan’s squad did (25-22, 28-26, 22-25, 25-22), and by the same final score as their first matchup this season in College Station.
After a back-and-forth beginning to set one, Mizzou moved ahead 10-6 on a 4-0 run which included back-to-back service aces from Jordan Iliff. A&M persistently worked away at the Tigers’ lead, using two runs of 3-0 and finally a 4-0 streak to seize the lead 19-18.
Mizzou quickly took back the advantage 23-21 with three straight points, and Janet deMarrais, who was held in check for much of the set, began to heat up.
The Tigers clinched set one 25-22 on a double block from deMarrais and Morgan Isenberg, fending off the late charge by A&M.
A major factor in the outcome of the first set was, surprisingly enough, service aces. Mizzou piled up six aces as the Aggies played campfire defense far too often early on.
Neither squad put up impressive numbers on offense, with Texas A&M hitting .242 and the Tigers hitting .179. However, the Mizzou front line was able to rack up four blocks.
After a short Aggies advantage to begin set two, the Tigers took a 7-4 lead with a 5-0 run. A&M tied it up at 11 on a 3-0 run and briefly took the lead before Mizzou responded with a 3-0 streak of their own for the 15-13 lead.
The Aggies continued to show they wouldn’t go away easily, retaking the lead 16-15 with another 3-0 run, and the two squads engaged in a back-and-forth duel. A&M broke out to force set point, 24-22, before the Tigers battled back to tie it up.
What followed was an incredible show of talent and effort from both sides as they pushed each other to their limits. The Aggies forced set point before Mizzou battled back twice.
Finally, the Tigers found the extra gear they needed, and somehow, incredibly, came out with the set two victory 28-26 on a Dilara Gedikoglu kill that sent the Hearnes Center into a hysteria.
Texas A&M quietly but surely built a lead to begin the third set, maintaining a 2-3 point cushion for much of the first half of action while thwarting any Mizzou attempts to gain momentum. The Tigers managed to briefly tie it at 16, but the Aggies quickly reasserted themselves and rode out the rest of the set, winning 25-22.
Both teams posted hitting percentages above .400 in set three. Mizzou’s defense had no answer for the A&M attack as they hit .481.
The Tigers took the early advantage for a change in set four, leading 7-4, before A&M put together a 5-0 run to seize a 12-11 lead. After a temporary deadlock, the Aggies broke out again to take an 18-15 advantage.
Momentum was not Mizzou’s side, and it looked like the fourth set would end similar to the third. However, the Tigers managed to find one last trick up their sleeve, and put their foot on the gas when it mattered most to finish the match on a 6-0 run for the come-from-behind 25-22 victory.
Mizzou’s offense was very up-and-down in this match, finishing sets one and four with a hitting percentage below .200 and achieving a percentage above .325 in the middle sets. Overall, they ended the night with a .268 hitting percentage.
Jordan Iliff once again led the team in kills with 18, hitting .268, followed by Janet deMarrais with 16 (.143) and Dilara Gedikoglu with 10 (.409).
Sierra Dudley ended the night with 50 assists, and Maya Sands led the Tigers in digs with 23, followed by Dilara Gedikoglu with 10.
Was this a perfect match? No. Did Mizzou still find a way to win, and show plenty of resilience, grit, and ability to come up in the clutch while doing so? Yes, absolutely.
The Tigers have moved up to 5th in the SEC with an opportunity to overtake Auburn for 4th on Sunday when they face off at the Hearnes Center.