Battle of First Year Head Coaches Highlights OU Nike Invitational

  0 Wendy Mayer | September 14th, 2018 | Big 12, College - Women's Indoor, News, SEC

Courtesy: Texas A&M Athletics

COLLEGE STATION, Texas — Texas A&M (6-3) closes out its non-conference slate this weekend as the Aggies compete in the OU Nike Invitational, Friday-Saturday at McCasland Field House in Norman, Oklahoma. Texas A&M opens the tournament against the host Sooners on Friday at 7 p.m., and the match will be televised on Fox Sports Oklahoma.

The Aggies will play two matches on Saturday, facing Northwestern State at 11 a.m. and a re-match against Oklahoma at 5 p.m.

The complete tournament schedule is as follows:

Friday, Sept. 14

11 a.m.       Oklahoma (5-4) vs. Northwestern State (4-4)

7 p.m.         Texas A&M (6-3) vs. Oklahoma

Saturday, Sept. 15

11 a.m.       Texas A&M vs. Northwestern State

5 p.m.         Texas A&M vs. Oklahoma


  • Friday matches will be televised on Fox Sports Oklahoma
  • The Saturday match between Texas A&M and Oklahoma will be streamed on (subscription required)
  • Live stats of all matches will be available on
  • Twitter Updates: @AggieVolleyball

Most recently Texas A&M won its own tournament but had to rely on a tiebreaker to be awarded the trophy after falling to a scrappy Missouri State team, 3-2 (11-25, 26-24, 15-25, 25-19, 15-11) last Friday to finish the Texas A&M Invitational tied with the Bears and Pepperdine with a 2-1 record. The Aggies, who were playing their first five-set match of the season, were presented the tournament trophy based on most sets won amongst the tied teams.

Oklahoma is 5-4 entering its home season debut after going 1-2 at the Colorado Invitational in Boulder, Colo. The Sooners, who defeated SEC-foe Georgia in five sets in Boulder, closed out the tournament with a 3-0 loss (25-12, 26-24, 25-15) against then-No. 24 Colorado.

Northwestern State is 4-4 and looking to end a two-match losing skid after falling at Tulsa, 3-0 (25-23, 25-22, 25-20) last Saturday.



  • A&M is 35-7 against Oklahoma since the series began in 1976, including 15-3 in matches played in Norman.
  • The Aggies were 26-6 against the Sooners in Big 12 Conference matches only from 1996-2011.
  • In the most recent meeting, A&M extended its winning streak against OU to three matches, defeating the Sooners, 3-1 (24-26, 25-16, 25-22, 25-17) in the final meeting as conference foes on Nov. 19, 2011, at McCasland Field House in Norman.
  • Current Sooner assistant coach Megan Pendergast was a junior libero for the Aggies in the most recent meeting and anchored A&M’s back row with a team-high 19 digs as A&M held the Sooners to a .154 hitting percentage.


  • Texas A&M is 2-0 all-time and has never dropped a set in the series against the Lady Demons.
  • The teams first met in 1976 at the University of Houston Tournament, with A&M defeating NSU, 2-0 (15-0, 15-4).
  • The teams last met on Oct. 2, 1992, at G. Rollie White Coliseum in College Station. Texas A&M defeated the Lady Demons, 3-0 (15-1, 15-4, 15-9).


  • Texas A&M has gone 2-1 at each of its first three tournaments to open the season.
  • Most recently, the Aggies had a new head coach on the sidelines at a home match for the first time in 25 years as Laura “Bird” Kuhn  made her Aggieland debut and directed A&M to sweeps against both Pepperdine and Nicholls before falling to Missouri State, 3-2, in the final match of the Texas A&M Invitational despite leading in points (86-73), kills (72-60), hitting percentage (.292-.240) assists (72-57), aces (5-4), and digs (75-73).
  • Junior outside hitter Brookah Palmer was awarded MVP honors at the Texas A&M Invitational and Aggie sophomore setter Camille Conner joined Palmer on the all-tournament team. It was the second all-tournament team selection for both players this season.
  • Highlights from the match against the Bears include Palmer posting a career-high 24 kills while hitting .404 and also adding 10 digs to record the second double-double of her A&M career; Conner dishing out 61 assists, shattering her previous career high by 14; junior outside hitter Hollann Hans finishing with a double-double, tallying 17 kills and a season-high 12 digs; sophomore opposite hitter Morgan Davis recording a career-high 13 kills, and senior libero Amy Houser and freshman defensive specialist Allison Fields both setting career highs as they tied for match-high honors with 20 digs apiece.
  • For the season, A&M is 4-2 in three-set matches, 2-0 in four-set matches and 0-1 in five set matches.
  • The Aggies are still looking for their first true away win of the season after dropping 3-0 matches at both Ohio State and No. 6 Penn State.
  • For the season, A&M is outhitting its opponents, .255 to .162.
  • The Aggies are second in the SEC in assists (13.16) and kills (13.74) per set and third in the conference with 1.65 aces per set (through matches as of Sept. 12.)


  • Hollann Hans leads the SEC and is ranked 12th in the nation with 5.21 points per set.
  • The junior from Corpus Christi is third in the SEC and 15th in the nation with 4.54 kills per set.
  • Hans is tied for second in the SEC with 0.50 aces per set. She has had at least one ace in six of eight matches played and has posted three aces three times.
  • Camille Conner is fourth in the SEC with 10.58 assists per set.
  • Conner, Palmer and freshman middle blocker London Austin-Roark have started every match this season and Conner has appeared in all 31 sets.
  • Senior Amy Houser has been the libero in 30 of 31 sets and leads the team with 3.57 digs per set.
  • Freshman defensive specialist Allison Fields, who played libero in the final set in the sweep against Nicholls, has started seven of nine matches. She has posted double-figure digs four times, including 20 digs against Missouri State to tie for the most digs by an A&M player this season. Fields is second on the team with 2.93 digs per set.
  • Freshman middle blocker Mallory Talbert, who has started five of the last six matches, leads the Aggies with 0.94 blocks per set.



  • Oklahoma will be playing its first home matches of the season after playing its first nine matches on the road.
  • The Sooners are 5-4 entering a match against Northwestern State at 11 a.m. on Friday before hosting the Aggies at 7 p.m.
  • Most recently the Sooners fell to No. 24 Colorado, 3-0 (25-12, 26-24, 25-15) in the final match of the Colorado Invitational in Boulder.
  • The Sooners went 1-2 at the tournament with two matches going five sets—a 26-24, 20-25, 21-25, 25-16, 17-15 loss to North Carolina and a 25-22, 17-25, 25-23, 18-25, 15-13 victory over Georgia of the SEC.
  • Senior outside hitter Alyssa Enneking leads the Sooners and is third in the Big 12 with 4.26 kills per set. She also leads OU and is fourth in the conference with 4.60 points per set.
  • Sophomore libero Keyton Kinley leads OU and is second in the Big 12 with 4.21 digs per set.
  • As a team, the Sooners are outhitting their opponents, .213 to .188.
  • Oklahoma is under the direction of first-year head coach Lindsey Gray-Walton, a former assistant coach at Kentucky and the 2017 AVCA Assistant Coach of the Year. She was a freshman on the Georgia Tech volleyball team when A&M first-year head coach Laura “Bird” Kuhn was a senior for the Yellow Jackets.


  • The Lady Demons are 4-4 entering their Friday morning match against the Sooners.
  • NSU will be looking to end a two-match losing skid after falling to Oral Roberts, 3-1 (20-25, 25-21, 25-18, 25-19) and 3-0 (25-23, (25-22, 25-20 at Tulsa last weekend. The Lady Demons had entered the weekend having won four consecutive matches.
  • Senior outside hitter Reagan Rogers leads NSU with 3.66 kills per set but is hitting .167.
  • The Lady Demons return 14 of 15 letterwinners, including seven starters, from last year’s team that went 15-17 overall and finished tied for fifth in the Southland Conference with a 10-6 league record.
  •  Coach Sean Kiracofe (Texas Tech, 1999) is 38-64 in his fourth season at NSU.

TOURNAMENT commonalities

  • Texas A&M coach Laura “Bird” Kuhn and Oklahoma coach Lindsey Gray-Walton are both in the first year of their head coaching careers.
  • Kuhn and Gray-Walton were teammates at Georgia Tech in 2004, with Kuhn being a senior when Gray-Walton was a freshman.
  • Both Kuhn and Gray-Walton are former recipients of the AVCA Assistant Coach of the Year award, with Kuhn winning the honor in 2015 as the associate head coach at Kansas and Gray-Walton, an Oklahoma native, being presented the honor in 2017 as an assistant coach at Kentucky.
  • Gray-Walton coached current A&M volunteer coach Ashley Dusek, who graduated from Kentucky in May and was a three-time SEC Libero of the Year.
  • Oklahoma assistant coach Megan Pendergast was a libero for the Aggies from 2011-12 and graduated from Texas A&M in 2013. Pendergast, who played her first two seasons at Nebraska, led A&M in total digs and digs per set in each of her two seasons at A&M, and her 4.03 digs per set as a junior ranks seventh in the A&M all-time season records. Pendergast holds the A&M record for digs per set in an SEC season only with 4.10 in 2012.


The Aggies open SEC play next week, playing host to the Arkansas Razorbacks on Wednesday, Sept. 19 at Reed Arena. First serve is at 7 p.m., and the match will be televised nationally on SEC Network. Several promotions will be offered:

  • Season Ticket Holder Bring a Friend Night: Each STH can bring an additional person to the match for free. Issued GA tickets. Only available as a walk up sale on the day of the event. No advance purchases.
  • Corps Match: Approximately 100-200 Corps of Cadets in attendance at the match.
  • Student Appreciation Match/WINSDAY: ALL A&M students receive free admission. Only available as a walk up on the day of the event. No advance purchases. A&M student prizes to be awarded throughout the match.
  • Bring Your A Game: Free admission for any kid who presents a report card with an A. Only available as a walk-up sale on the day of the event. No advance purchases. (Season long)
  • Concessions: $1 hotdogs during the match.
  • Post-Match Autographs: Fans are invited to the court to get autographs from the team.

Leave a Reply


About Wendy Mayer

Wendy Mayer

Wendy Mayer has worked in athletics media relations for the last 20 years. The Northwest Missouri State alumna is currently senior writer for after spending the last 15 years with Purdue athletics.

Read More »

Don't want to miss anything?

Subscribe to our newsletter and receive our latest updates!