Visiting Puerto Rico will be a first for Texas A&M volleyball coach Laurie Corrbelli, but she knows exactly what to expect.
“We know we are going against honestly the best volleyball in the country,” Corbelli said. “We will get to see great volleyball, and they will challenge us to our core of how tough are we, how disciplined are we, how together are we, how united. All those things that really matter when it comes to being a championship team in a season.”
The No. 14 Aggies (2-1) will face No. 16 Florida State, No.6 Minnesota and Virginia Tech in the Puerto Rico Clasico.
A&M moved up two spots in the poll despite a first weekend loss to Ohio State. Another 2-1 weekend and the Aggies should at least remain about where they are, but it won’t be easy with Florida State having beaten A&M three times over the past two years and Minnesota made it to the NCAA semifinals last season.
The loss (32-30 in set 2 and 15-13 in set 5) to then No.15 Ohio State was bitter to swallow for the veteran Aggies, but A&M needed to learn one thing on the opening weekend and that was can sophomore Kaitlyn Blake help fill the void of middle blocker Shelby Sullivan.
It’s early but 13 blocks by Blake in the match after the loss would indicate she is well on her way to gaining the team’s confidence. They can’t help but enjoy her enthusiasm. The 6-foot-2 Blake wears her emotions on her sleeve and if she can keep that funneled to the positive the veteran Aggies will have little trouble staying energized.
“Her celebrations are giving our team such a boost and its fun for me as a coach to watch how excited she gets on every play, whether it’s point No. 1 or point No. 25,” Corbelli said. “It’s so genuine, the fist are pumped. She plays harder just so she can celebrate.”