Texas A&M claimed the first conference volleyball championship in program history Wednesday with a 3-2 victory against Missouri at the Hearnes Center in Columbia.
The Tigers, who would have clinched at least a share of the second SEC title in three seasons with wins against the Aggies and Friday against South Carolina, led by a set twice.
A&M, 22-6 and 15-2 in conference, proved too resilient in a 19-25, 25-20, 25-27, 25-22, 15-10 win behind sophomore setter Stephanie Aiple, who had 62 assists mere hours after being chosen as the SEC player of the year.
Fellow sophomore Jazzmin Babers finished with a match-high 21 kills to aid the Aggies’ cause, but things didn’t start brilliantly for A&M.
Junior Julia Towler finished with four kills and both junior Carly Kan and freshman Alyssa Munlyn powered down three kills as Missouri won the opening set 25-19.
Texas A&M responded by knotting the match 25-20 in the second set.
The Tigers, 25-5 and 13-4, jumped out to a 7-4 lead in the third set before the Aggies won 9 of 11 points to surge in front.
The set settled into a see-saw affair, which featured 12 ties before Missouri pulled out a 27-25 win and took control of the match again.
Towler, a Blue Springs South graduate, had three kills in the set, while Kan, Munlyn and sophomore Kira Larson each smacked two kills.
The Tigers led 22-20 late in the fourth set, but the Aggies won the final five points to force a decisive fifth set.
A&M, which outhit Missouri .257-.233 and overcame an 18-9 deficit in blocks, controlled the final set from the outset in securing the SEC crown outright.
Larson, a Nebraska transfer, led the Tigers with 17 kills, while Munlyn added 12 kills and eight blocks and Towler had 10 kills and five blocks.
Kan finished with a negative hitting percentage after managing seven kills against eight errors, though she led Missouri with 13 digs.