Volleyball vs Ole Miss

Texas A&M’s Camille Conner, from left, Treyaunna Rush, Taylor Voss and Mallory Talbert celebrate a point in the first set as Ole Miss blocker Lauren Bars, center, walks off the court Sunday at Reed Arena.  A&M won 25-21, 23-25, 26-24, 25-20.

In a postgame video presentation honoring the Aggies’ four seniors at Reed Arena, outside hitter Hollann Hans was described by coaches and teammates alike as the Texas A&M volleyball program’s rock — always even-keeled and steady.

Sunday, in Hans’ final regular-season home match, A&M head coach Bird Kuhn said she talked with her senior leader during the game, more than any other game, to help quell the emotions that bubbled from within.

“I think I underestimated how much emotion they were feeling in this match, even during the match,” Kuhn said.

Fittingly, the player who holds over 40 program records slammed down her 20th kill for the final point in A&M’s 25-21, 23-25, 26-24, 25-20 win over Ole Miss Sunday, closing out the Aggies home regular season.

“It’s just a really special place to be,” Hans said through tears. “Growing up an Aggie and ending my last game here in Reed Arena was a really overwhelming but special moment, and I’m just so thankful for the time I’ve had here.”

With two regular-season games to play, Hans’ 1,546 kills are fourth all-time in school history, including the most during the 25-point rally era. She also holds the school records for aces, aces per set, kills per set and total points in the 25-point rally scoring era.

“She’s a natural volleyball player, but it’s the person she is that makes her even better,” Kuhn said. 

Alongside Hans, A&M celebrated senior libero Camila Gomez and defensive specialist Haley Slocum, as well as junior middle blocker Makena Patterson. Patterson is set to graduate in December and will try her hand at playing professionally abroad, she said.

Gomez joined the team as a JUCO transfer and has made a name for herself on the international stage playing with the Colombian national team. Sunday, Gomez closed out her regular-season home career with 19 digs and nine assists.

“We knew we needed to come through and focus, because they were a tough team,” Gomez said. “At least for me, I tried to keep myself together and not let the emotions get the best of me.”

Slocum, the granddaughter of former A&M football head coach R.C. Slocum, had her large Aggie family surrounding her on the court after the game, including the coach.

“It’s just so special,” said Slocum, an A&M Consolidated alumna. “It’s just a huge blessing that I got to stay here in the first place and go to school here and play volleyball. To have them still around and supporting me is really special.”

Since A&M (20-6, 12-4 in SEC) beat the Rebels (14-13, 6-10 in SEC) on Oct. 20, ending Ole Miss’ 14-game win streak, they have yet to win another game. Sunday, Ole Miss made a bid to end their current nine-game losing skid with four close sets.

Beyond the seniors, junior setter Camille Connor supported all of A&M’s offense, posting 52 assists and 10 kills with 17 digs. Her effort was the first triple-double in the SEC this season.

Also, freshman outside hitter Lauren Davis set a career high in kills with 19. 

Sitting at an RPI ranking of 15, A&M’s win over Ole Miss was another step toward the goal of hosting the first two rounds of the NCAA tournament — after concluding the regular season with trips to South Carolina and No. 15 Florida. Hosting would also give those four seniors another chance to play in Reed Arena.

“I think it just gives us a lot of momentum and confidence going into our last two games in the SEC and so, we’re going to do it,” Slocum said. 

And, it will allow Hans the chance to move up the record books a little more in front of the 12th Man.

“I think, she’s just a big deal,” Gomez said, summing up Hans’ career.

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