NEWARK, Del. – Texas A&M senior outside hitter Tori Mellinger led all players with 13 kills while hitting a career-high .478 to lead the Aggies to a 25-13, 25-15, 25-16 victory over Xavier in the opening match at the Delaware Invitational at Frank Acierno Arena.
It was the fifth consecutive win for the Aggies, who improve to 6-1 overall. Xavier, which upset A&M, 3-2, at the Michigan/adidas Invitational last year, falls to 5-4.
Mellinger's effort was only one of many solid performances by the Aggies throughout the match.
"I would call that one of the best performances we've had in quite a while just in terms of its consistency, in terms of the intensity and just overall execution," said A&M 20th-year head coach Laurie Corbelli, who was coaching her 600th match at the helm of the Aggies. "I thought it was really sharp and I was especially proud because it was 10 a.m. in the morning after a really long, hard day of travel. They didn't let it affect them. They were just very well prepared."
Senior opposite Alisia Kastmo celebrated her 21st birthday by taking match-high honors with a career-high 13 digs and also pitched in nine kills, and senior middle blocker Lindsey Miller tied her season high with five blocks as A&M outhit Xavier .340 to .062, posting 47 kills to the Musketeers' 25.
Just like it has done in every match this season, A&M opened the match by winning the first set. The Aggies set the tone early, scoring the first four points and then continued to add to their lead throughout the opening frame. Holding a 12-7 lead, A&M scored six unanswered points behind the serving of senior libero Megan Pendergast and kills by Kastmo and Miller to go up, 18-7.
A&M, which outhit Xavier .448 to .030 in the set, would build its largest lead at 20-8 on a kill by junior setter Allie Sawatzky. She later posted her fourth kill of the set, and senior middle blocker Stephanie Minnerly followed with a kill as the Aggies doubled-up the Musketeers, 24-12. Xavier got a kill before Mellinger's fifth kill capped the Aggies' 25-13 win.
In the second set, Kastmo had three kills during a 5-0 run to give A&M a 7-3 lead. The Aggies never let go of the lead and closed out the set by reeling off eight unanswered points to win the set, 25-15, and take a 2-0 lead in the match.
Xavier equaled its biggest lead of the match at 10-7 in the third set before Mellinger's kill from the back row began a four-point run for the Aggies. A Xavier kill tied the score at 11-11, but junior outside hitter Heather Reynolds gave A&M the lead for good with one of her seven kills in the match.
The Aggies went on to build a 16-12 lead before Xavier cut the margin to 17-15. The Musketeers would get no closer as Minnerly and Kastmo's block began a six-point run that put the Aggies ahead, 23-15. A Musketeer kill ended the streak, but Reynolds countered with a kill to put the Aggies at match point. Mellinger then blasted a ball from the back row that went through the block and fell in for the match-winning point.
"We served so tough that it was hard for them to get into any kind of a rhythm," Corbelli added. "We had a lot of balls that came at us that were not too difficult to handle, so we were able to do quick transition plays. They started coming at us in set 3 very hard with their serving and sped up their attacking even more, and that challenged us for a while. We had a few unforced errors then, but as soon as we settled down and really got going I thought it was a group that was really determined. That was my focus was our team's mentality and keeping it consistent and aggressive, and that is what they had."
A&M returns to the court at 6 p.m. (CT) today to take on host Delaware.
Live video of the A&M-Delaware match will be provided to subscribers of 12thManTV on AggieAthletics.com.